Culture: UCC unveiled as major new partner for poetry competition favoured by Seamus Heaney

Photography: Paddy Barrett 

University College Cork has been announced as a major new partner for Poetry Aloud, the poetry speaking competition favoured by the late Seamus Heaney.

The 10-year partnership was unveiled this week by Poetry Ireland and the National Library of Ireland, which jointly present the annual competition run for post-primary students nationwide.

The only competition of its kind in Ireland, Poetry Aloud is a breeding ground for Ireland’s up-and-coming literary stars of the future.

Participants commit their chosen poems to memory before speaking them aloud at each stage of the competition. Those who successfully make it through the heats and the regional finals will tough it out at the national final, in the National Library of Ireland, in December.

UCC has a very rich connection with poetry."

Launched in 2006, Poetry Aloud has gone from strength to strength over the years, garnering close to 2,000 entries in its last run – along with the support of the late literary legend, Seamus Heaney, and Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, in Heaney’s memory.

Home to The Great Book of Ireland, and alma mater to Nuala Ní Dhomnaill and Paul Durcan, UCC has strong ties with Irish poets past and present. According to UCC’s President, Professor Patrick O’Shea, the university’s affinity with poetry is at the centre of this new partnership.

Sandra Collins, Maureen Kennelly and President Patrick O'Shea.

“UCC has a very rich connection with poetry, dating back to one of our early innovators George Boole, who as well as being one of the world’s finest mathematicians, was also a very well-regarded poet,” said Prof O’Shea, at the unveiling.

“The tradition of stellar poets emerging from UCC continues to this day, and we are proud of ongoing achievements of contemporary poets Graham Allen, Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh, Leanne O’Sullivan and Martin Veiga, who teach here at UCC and cultivate the next generation of poets across many languages.

“These connections to poetry make our association with Poetry Aloud even more meaningful for us.”

For information on Poetry Aloud 2018, simply visit and


Did you know?

Among UCC’s collection of national artefacts is The Great Book of Ireland, an anthology of artwork from Ireland’s most celebrated poets, musicians and artists.

The book contains work by Nobel laureates Seamus Heaney and Samuel Beckett, including what is believed to be Beckett’s final poem.

Office of Marketing and Communications

Margaíocht agus Cumarsáid

East Wing, Main Quadrangle, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland