Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Irish book awards

Newbies, celebrities, and one turkey: These Irish books are in the running to be named the best of 2017

The nominees for the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book awards were announced today.

AUTHORS OF THE year’s best Irish books have been named as nominees in the 2017 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards.

A mixture of new and established names from across the book world – including the history, cookery, and sport worlds as well as fiction and non-fiction – all feature in the shortlist. Oh, and there’s also one turkey.

The nominees include Marian Keyes, Emer McLysaght (former editor of and Sarah Breen, Paul Howard, Niall Kelly (deputy editor of and Ruth Fitzmaurice.

In the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2017 there are 15 categories, including Novel of the Year, Children’s, Cookery, Crime Fiction, Popular Fiction, Nonfiction, Sports, Short Story, Poetry and the new Teen and Young Adult book of the year category. (You’ll find a full list at the end of this article).

It’s the 12th year of the awards, which were founded to celebrate and promote Irish writing to the widest range of readers possible.

Larry Mac Hale, Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards Chairperson, said that its an exciting time of year for publishers, booksellers and readers.

“In June, the trade journal, The Bookseller, dedicated an entire edition to the Irish books market, applauding the general buoyancy in the trade and noting a ‘return to form over the past two years’,” he said. “It augurs well for bookstores across the country and with books like these to promote we’re confident of having a bumper 2017 Christmas.”

The nominees

IrishBookAwards15 Patrick Bolger Patrick Bolger

At today’s launch we caught up with some of the nominees, many of whom were on the list for the first time.

One of those is Ruth Fitzmaurice, author of I Found My Tribe and wife of Simon Fitzmaurice, the filmmaker who sadly died last week. Her nonfiction debut is about her life with Simon, their family, and the ‘tribe’ she found while swimming in Greystones.

“As surreal as my life is in general, to be honest with you, it was ‘oh yeah another mad thing’s happened’,” she joked about her nomination.

The book came about after an essay she wrote for the Irish Times struck a huge chord with readers. Why does she think her work connected with people so much?

“I think it’s a combination of circumstance and I think that thing they talk about, finding your voice as a writer,” she said. “Ironically it was the tragedy or the harsh circumstances we were living with, it just channelled everything and it was really important – the writing just came out, it was raw inside me.”

IrishBookAwards14 Patrick Bolger Dave Rudden Patrick Bolger

One of last year’s winners, Dave Rudden, is nominated again for his second book, The Forever Court.

“It’s really lovely  – second books are always scary and difficult, and to get the vote of confidence like this is really nice,” he said. With the publishing of his third book in the trilogy imminent, Rudden has been delighted to see the response of young readers eagerly anticipating the novel.

“You build this giant structure of a trilogy, and the third book is where you bring it all home – no one is going to read the third book if they don’t already love the first and the second,” he pointed out. “And you put so much effort into building this huge thing, all these dominoes, and then they all come down in the third book. And to have 200 kids yell their hearts out because they’re as excited as I am is so good – I am so delighted.”

Another YA/teen nominee is Moira Fowley-Doyle, author of Spellbook of the Lost and Found. The YA (young adult) book world has become a hugely popular one, and the category highlights this.

“It’s so exciting – I wish when I was a teenager that YA was what it is now. It’s such a rich category and you have so many different genres and so many different types of books,” she said.

One of the loudest cheers at the nominations announcement was for Oh My God What A Complete Aisling. It’s no surprise to hear then that the authors, Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght, have signed with an agent and are keen to begin work on book two.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be nominated and amongst such amazing books in our category as well, we know it’s going to be very stiff competition,” said Breen.

Added McLysaght: “I remember us joking about ‘imagine if we got to go to the book awards’, and then ‘ha – imagine we were nominated’. Completely joking; we thought it was the most hilarious thing ever – and here we are, mam!”

IrishBookAwards06 Patrick Bolger Nominees PJ Lynch and Ryan Tubridy Patrick Bolger

Another debut writer is Alan McGonagle, whose novel Ithaca is nominated. He echoed the thoughts of many of the writers present when he said that the awards are a chance to get out of the writing ‘cave’ and connect with peers.

“I suppose to a certain extent it’s a little overwhelming as far as the work goes. You spend so long in the cave, it’s a solitary preoccupation, writing, per se,” he said of his book’s success. “And suddenly then to hear first of all it’s good enough for publication, and then all of a sudden you walk into bookshops and see it on shelves… It’s great. I just try and savour it, people close to me are saying ‘don’t forget to enjoy it’.”

One of the nominees in‘s sponsored category, best Irish Published Book of the Year, is Helen James. Her book A Sense of Home is aimed at people wanting to make their home as comfortable and beautiful as it can be.

“It’s my first book and it’s a really personal project, so it’s really about my life and my thoughts on your home and design,” she said. “So it just feels so lovely to be nominated for an award, a bit of recognition.”

“More and more with all of this technology and all that’s going on, our homes have to become such a haven and a cocoon, and with all of your senses you can make it so much more personal, more of a sensory experience.”

IrishBookAwards17 Patrick Bolger Caroline Foran and Helen James Patrick Bolger

Caroline Foran‘s Owning It stands out from the pack as it’s a non-fiction book about anxiety. “It was beyond my wildest expectations,” she said about her nomination.

“I think what my book did was help people who were talking about anxiety, who knew they were dealing with anxiety, my book helped people understand what that is and what’s going on, and really clearly break down that kind of thing,” she said.

When I was writing I was thinking of myself as someone who was really struggling at that time, thinking ‘what would that person want to read?’

In the children’s category, we have father and daughter pair Fatti Burke and John Burke, with Foclóiropedia: A Journey Through the Irish Language from Arán to Zú. With Fatti in Dublin and John in Waterford, theirs is a particularly interesting collaborative process.

“We started off just with one book and we thought that would be a one-off thing. Now that it’s a trilogy it’s so fun, it’s very unexpected,” said a delighted Fatti (the pair are set to take a little break from their work for the time being).

They were happy to be ending the trilogy of books on one about the Irish language. “There’s a movement towards lightening up the subject and making it more fun for children and adults,” said John. “Just getting more out of it, rather than having the exam idea of swotting for something.”

There are also a number of people who self-published in this year’s nominees list, like Helena Duggan for A Place Called Perfect. Her book was later picked up and published by Usborne. She described her journey:

“In 2012 I self-published with Amazon, in e-book and in printed book. And then I went out, put it into the shops locally and it got great sales. And off the back of that I approached an agent and got an agent, and then Usborne in the UK.”

“I just took a punt on it because it’s so hard anyway, so I had nothing to lose and when you can design yourself it doesn’t cost,” said the author and designer.

IrishBookAwards12 Patrick Bolger Dustin and Stefanie Preissner Patrick Bolger

A self-published cookery book on the shortlist was Fearless Food, written by Lynda Booth of Dublin Cookery School.

“At the end of the day there’s so much work that goes into the book. I choose to be self-published, so I’m totally involved in every aspect, from the writing to the food styling to the design,” she said. “I love the creative process, so it’s wonderful to be nominated.”

“The writing would be very important – I would put a lot of work not just into the recipes but extra pages that would be written about my philosophy about food, or food trends, my views on that,” added Booth.

I take the writing just as seriously as I do the recipes so it’s nice that that would be recognised. I want everybody to bring my cookery book to bed – I want to engage my reader, and the way I do that is through the writing outside the recipe, not just the recipe itself. And I love to tell the reader the background story behind the recipe. I think that makes it more intriguing and makes people want to cook them.”

There’s also a short story category in the awards. June Caldwell is one of the nominees, for her story ‘Upcycle: an account of some strange happenings on Botanic Road’ from her collection Room Little Darker.

“I’m really delighted and I’m also delighted that it’s the most normal story in the book – and I’m just delighted because the longlist was really tough, it was full of stars so I can’t believe I’m on this,” she said.

She’s just starting work on her debut novel. “To me a lot of modern novels are ultimately written in short story format and whether they know it or not they are written in sequence,” she said. “So I am not too intimidated by the idea, it’s just the length of it. I’m missing short stories, I have a hankering to get back to them. It is one of those forms that you have a fling with or not. ”

Speaking of flings, the BGEIBAs also has the honour of having one turkey amongst its nominees – Dustin the Turkey.

“It’s been absolutely brilliant, it’s amazing to be nominated – in other words there’s no money in music anymore so I decided to writ’ a book,” the feathered scribe told

But the event might have some repercussions for his personal life.

But it’s a bit problematic because when I heard the nominees, it went Maia Dunphy and I went ‘yep’; Vogue Williams ‘yep, yeah’; Stefanie Preissner ‘yeah’; Caroline Foran ‘yeah’…. so, I’m basically going out with all of them so it’s going to be weird on the night because they don’t know about each other, you know what I mean? [To's reporter]: So you won’t be putting this out of course?

Sorry about that, Dustin…

Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2017 Shortlist: Best Irish Published Book of the Year

  • The Woodcutter and His Family – Frank Mc Guinness (Brandon)
  • Atlas of the Irish Revolution – John Crowley, Donál Ó Drisceoil, Mike Murphy and John Borgonovo (Cork University Press)
  • A Sense of Home – Helen James (Hachette Books Ireland)
  • Tangleweed and Brine – Deirdre Sullivan illustrated by Karen Vaughan (Little Island)
  • Connemara & Aran – Walter Pfeiffer (Artisan House)
  • De Valera Volume 1: Rise (1882 – 1932) – David McCullagh (Gill Books)

National Book Tokens Children’s Book of the Year (Junior)

  • Rabbit and the Bear: The Pest in the Nest – Julian Gough and Jim Field (Hodder Children’s Press)
  • Socks for Mr. Wolf – Tatyana Feeney (The O’Brien Press)
  • A Sailor went to Sea, Sea, Sea – Favourite Rhymes from an Irish Childhood – Sarah Webb illustrated by Steve Mc Carthy (The O’Brien Press)
  • Patrick and the President – Ryan Tubridy illustrated by PJ Lynch (Walker Books)
  • The President’s Glasses – Peter Donnelly (Gill Books)
  • Foclóiropedia: A Journey Through the Irish Language from Arán to Zú – Fatti Burke and John Burke (Gill Books)

National Books Tokens Children’s Book of the Year (Senior)

  • Illegal – Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin illustrated Giovannie Rigano (Hodder Children’s Books)
  • The Forever Court – Dave Rudden (Puffin)
  • A Place Called Perfect – Helena Duggan (Usborne Publishing)
  • Star by Star – Sheena Wilkinson (Little Island)
  • A Dangerous Crossing – Jane Mitchell (Little Island)
  • Stand by Me – Judi Curtin (The O’Brien Press)

Dept 51@Eason Teen / Young Adult Book of the Year

  • Spellbook of the Lost and Found – Moira Fowley-Doyle (Corgi Childrens)
  • Perfect – Cecelia Ahern (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
  • Moonrise – Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
  • Like Other Girls – Claire Hennessy (Hot Key Books)
  • Tangleweed and Brine – Deirdre Sullivan illustrated Karen Vaughan (Little Island)
  • The Girl in Between – Sarah Carroll (Simon & Schuster UK)

Eason Book Club Novel of the Year

  • Mrs Osmond – John Banville (Viking)
  • When Light is Like Water – Molly Mc Closkey (Penguin Ireland)
  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne (Doubleday)
  • Smile – Roddy Doyle (Jonathan Cape)
  • Midwinter Break – Bernard MacLaverty (Johnathan Cape)
  • he: A Novel – John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton)

Specsavers Popular Fiction Book of the Year

  • Orange Blossom Days – Patricia Scanlan (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Break – Marian Keyes (Michael Joseph)
  • Operation Trumpsformation – Ross O’Carroll-Kelly (Penguin Ireland)
  • The Good Mother – Sinéad Moriarty (Penguin Ireland)
  • The Woman at 72 Derry Lane – Carmel Harrington (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Keep You Safe – Melissa Hill (HQ)

Irish Independent Crime Fiction Book of the Year

  • Can You Keep A Secret? – Karen Perry (Michael Joseph)
  • Here and Gone – Haylen Beck (Harvill Secker)
  • Let the Dead Speak – Jane Casey (HaperCollins Publisher)
  • One Bad Turn – Sinéad Crowley (Quercus)
  • There was a Crooked Man – Cat Hogan (Poolbeg Press)
  • The Therapy House – Julie Parsons (New Island Books)

Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year

  • I Found My Tribe – Ruth Fitzmaurice (Chatto & Windus)
  • Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber)
  • The Gospel According to Blindboy – Blindboy Boatclub (Gill Books)
  • Oh My God What A Complete Aisling The Novel – Emer Mc Lysaght and Sarah Breen (Gill Books)
  • Montpelier Parade – Karl Geary (Harvill Secker)
  • Harvesting – Lisa Harding (New Island Books)

Onside Non-Fiction Book of the Year

  • In America: Tales from Trump Country – Caitríona Perry (Gill Books)
  • After Ireland – Declan Kiberd (Head of Zeus)
  • Alfie – Trevor White (Penguin Ireland)
  • Brexit and Ireland – Tony Connelly (Penguin Ireland)
  • Wounds: A Memoir of War & Love – Fergal Keane (William Collins)
  • I Am, I Am, I Am – Maggie O’ Farrell (Headline)

Ireland AM Popular Non- Fiction Book of the Year

  • The M Word: – Maia Dunphy (Gill Books)
  • WikiBeaks – Dustin the Turkey (Transworld Ireland)
  • Why Can’t Everything Just Stay the Same? – Stefanie Preissner (Hechette Books Ireland )
  • Everything – Vogue William (Hachette Books Ireland)
  • Owning It: Your Bullsh*t-Free Guide to Living with Anxiety – Caroline Foran (Hachette Books Ireland)
  • Motherfocloir – Darch Ó Séaghdha (Head of Zeus)

EUROSPAR Cookbook of the Year

  • Cook Well, Eat Well – Rory O’ Connell (Gill Books)
  • Neven Maguire’s Perfect Irish Christmas – Neven Maguire (Gill Books)
  • Fearless Food – Lynda Booth (DCS Publishing)
  • Half Hour Hero – Roz Purcell (Penguin Ireland)
  • Home Baking – Rachel Allen (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • The Cookery School, Donnybrook Fair – Niall Murphy (Mercier Press)

Bord Gáis Energy Sports Book of the Year

  • The Choice – Philly McMahon with Niall Kelly (Gill Books)
  • The Ascent: Séan Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation – Barry Ryan (Gill Books)
  • Shay: Any Given Saturday – The Autobiography– Shay Given (Trinity Mirror Sport Media )
  • The Warrior’s Code: My Autobiography – Jackie Tyrell with Christy O’ Connor (Trinity Mirror Sport Media)
  • Gooch: The Autobiography – Colm Cooper (Transworld Ireland)
  • Form: My Autobiography – Kieran Fallon with Oliver Holt (Simon & Schuster UK)

RTE Radio One’s The Ryan Tubridy Show Listener’s Choice Award

  • Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family– Kathy Mc Keon (Simon & Schuster)
  • he: A Novel – John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Ithaca – Alan Mc Monagle (Picador)
  • The Word is Murder – Anthony Horowitz (Century)
  • Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery – Henry Marsh (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
  • Francis Brennan’s Book of Household Management – Francis Brennan (Gill Books)

Listowel Writer’s Week Irish Poem of the Year

  • Points – Amanda Bell (From the Irish Times)
  • Seven Sugar Cubes – Clodagh Beresford (From the Irish Times)
  • Bride and Moth – Tara Bergin (From the Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx)
  • Ledwidge in Manchester – John Mc Auliffe (From the Irish Times) Short Story of the Year

  • Back to Bones – Christine Dwyer Hickey (Longlisted for Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award)
  • Consolata – Nuala O’ Connor (From Joyride to Jupiter – New Island Books)
  • Dogs – Helena Mulkerns (From Ferenji and other Stories – Doire Press)
  • Hollow – Paul Mc Veigh (From Numéro Cinq Magazine)
  • In the Event of an Emergency – Patricia Mc Adoo (From Books Ireland Magazine)
  • Upcycle: an account of some strange happenings on Botanic Road – June Caldwell (From Room Littler Darker – New Island Books)

David Walliams, the best-selling children’s author, has been announced as the recipient of the 2017 ‘Bord Gáis Energy International Recognition Award’ at this year’s awards.

While there is a judging panel, the public are now being asked to cast their votes online for the best books of the year on the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards website. This year, anyone who casts their vote on the website, will be in with the chance of winning a €100 voucher from National Book Tokens.

You can cast your votes until midday on Thursday 23 November, and the winners will be announced at the gala ceremony in The Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road on Tuesday, 28th November. This year, the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards will be presented by Keelin Shanley and will be televised on RTÉ One at 9.30pm the following day.

Find out more on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Read: ‘I didn’t realise I was grieving and I didn’t realise that it would help. It was huge’>

Read: Irish filmmaker Simon Fitzmaurice has died aged 43>

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel