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Redline Festival

Red Line Festival Poetry Competition 2022

And the winners are...

Jessica Traynor

The Red Line Poetry Competition is in its tenth year and it attracts hundreds of entries from aspiring poets from all across the island of Ireland annually.

This year, Red Line Festival is honoured to have award-winning poet Jessica Traynor judge the competition entries.  We thank her sincerely for all her work.

Our 2022 winners are:  

First Prize Nuala Roche

Second Prize Winifred McNulty

Third Prize Ruth Quinlan

Here are their winning poems.

Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves

Nuala Roche

With his back to the camera, chin on railing, face tilted up, 

my brother studies the sandstone mural of the D-Day landings,

The pincer red arrows are synaptic tripwires

searing pathways through his plastic brain,

I call to him, Hey, family snap! He turns, 

and dwarfed by the bronze statue—

joins the line-up.

I steady the Autographic Brownie, 

cupping its melodeon-bellows to my belly

In the view-finder the parallax lens lops off 



it is carnage. 

My brother shuffles, left foot to right,

then steps out, 

leaving a gap the missing sibling, 

Much later, all this will be reassembled in the dark room.

Nuala Roche writes poetry and fiction. She won Dromineer Festival’s 2017 Poetry Prize and her chapbook was Highly Commended in the Patrick Kavanagh Competition. For stage, Nuala's one-woman play Bridie premiered at The Watergate Theatre, and she presented a women’s monologue show at Cleere’s Theatre. Nuala’s work is published in The Cormorant Broadsheets & Anthology, Doghouse Press, The Milk House, and Kilkenny Poetry Broadsheets. Her poem, Lumber, was nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize. She is a recipient of an Arts Agility Award and Irish Writers Centre mentorship for a recent piece of creative non-fiction.

When Lough na Suil Drains 

by Winifred McNulty

it leaves an eye, old seeds, a fissure 

of cracked earth. I feel its line widening 

and sparking as it tightens under my skin, 

an imaginary border stitched on emptiness

where the Leiomyomas grew. Unlike the lake

my womb will not fill, unless with moonlight.

The surgeon lifts the fibroid out

a Balor’s eye, dark taut layers of regret. 

The lake lies on its belly in rush and grass, silt 

gathers in its meadow. It fills, seeps back 

from limestone full of another world

until field orchid, bloom of tansy 

and seeds of old wheat surface 

on the ripples of its skin and float.

Winifred Mc Nulty lives in Donegal on Blissberry Farm she has won the iYeats, Boyle and Westport Poetry awards and published poems in the North, Cyphers, Mslexia and other magazines and in Local Wonders Anthology from Dedalus Press. 


Ruth Quinlan

In the dark, 

men came hunting 

through the pasture fields beside us.

Men we didn’t know, who growled

in accents thick as ditches.

And lean dogs, dragging at ropes

tethered to the men, sniffing, 

tasting air, their tongues already

lapping at the promise of silken fur.

My sister and I 

pressed against our window, watched

roving spotlights, cyclops glares

illuminating grassy mounds 

until – a rabbit was caught by the eyes. 

Then the dogs took flight, a streak of teeth 

and tails across the earth. Arrows

freed from gravity’s draw

just long enough

to loose the wolf inside them. 

And afterwards – 

proud men patted proud dogs,

ordered them away from the nexus of light

to lift a broken shape,

drop it into a hessian sack.

In the dark, 

I think of that sack, blood 

staining the cars as the men drove home,

how it dried beneath their fingernails

as they grunted in soft beds. 

Ruth Quinlan is originally from Kerry but now lives in Galway. She was selected for the inaugural Dedalus Press Mentorship Programme in 2021, a Heinrich Böll Cottage Writer Residency and the Cork Poetry Festival Introductions in 2020, the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2019 and was awarded an individual artist bursary in 2018 by Galway City Council. She won the 2018 Galway University Hospital Arts Trust Poems for Patience competition, the 2018 Blue Nib Summer Chapbook competition, the 2014 Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Award, and the 2012 Hennessy Literary Award for First Fiction.  She has been published in the Irish Times, Irish Independent, Stinging Fly, The North, The Cormorant, Crannóg, amongst others. She is also co-editor of Skylight 47, a poetry magazine based in Galway. 

Here is the list of 10 short-listed entries from the 2022 competition. 

His father goes out looking for a mink or pine marten by Monica Wang

My Mother and Shirley Bassey by Maeve McKenna

When Lough na Suil Drains by Winifred McNulty

Portrait #2: Oscar by Colm Brennan

No Use Crying Over Spilt Feelings by Lea McCarthy

Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves by Nuala Roche

Zillionth Honeymoon by DM O'Connor

Lamping by Ruth Quinlan

Anchor Stitch by Eilín de Paor

Niamh Waits for Oisin's Return by Ger Duffy

Jessica Traynor is a poet, essayist and librettist, and poetry editor at Banshee. Her debut poetry collection, Liffey Swim (Dedalus Press, 2014), was shortlisted for the Strong/Shine Award. The Quick (Dedalus Press, 2018) was an Irish Times poetry choice. Awards include the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary and Hennessy New Writer of the Year. Operas include Paper Boat, a commission from Irish National Opera and Music for Galway, and The Wanderer, commissioned by Irish Modern Dance Theatre. Residencies include Yeats Society Sligo, Seamus Heaney Home Place and the DLR LexIcon. Pit Lullabies (Bloodaxe, 2022) is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

The Competition Rules are available here.