Meath County Council Cultural Services is delighted to announce Jim McElroy as the Francis Ledwidge Poetry Award winner 2020.


Based in Belfast, Jim McElroy grew up on a farm in the Mournes, County Down. Following a life in business and technology his poetry was first published in 2018.


Recurring themes in his work include the rural environment, climate, war, technological change and ageing.


He was selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions 2019 with poet Martina Evans describing his writing as a ‘fiercely visceral voice’. His poem ‘Hoor’ won second prize in the 2019 international Bridport Poetry Award and a further three poems were shortlisted in 2020.


This year, his work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, shortlisted for the Cúirt New Writing Prize, longlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize, and three of his poems were shortlisted for the Fingal Poetry Prize.


Esteemed poet and writer Mary O’Donnell described his writing as ‘tensely wrought’ work about the city of Belfast that is both ‘elegiac and celebratory’ as well as ‘quite wonderful and memorable’.


McElroy received an Individual Artist’s Award from the Arts Council NI and the National Lottery in support of his first collection. A subset of his manuscript has recently been shortlisted for The Rialto Pamphlet award 2020.


Adding to this list of accolades is now the Meath County Council Francis Ledwidge Poetry Award 2020. Named in honour of the famous Irish war poet and soldier: Francis Ledwidge ‘Poet of the Blackbirds’; this award, supported by Creative Ireland, seeks to support Irish poets both financially and creatively.


Jim McElroy as recipient of the Francis Ledwidge Poetry Award will be gifted a week- long residential stay at the prestigious Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, Co Monaghan, and a cash prize of €1,500.00.




Upon accepting the award McElroy stated:


‘I am honoured to receive this award. Having witnessed 30 years of unrest in Northern Ireland, I feel an affinity to the work of Francis Ledwidge who, as a poet and a soldier offers a unique perspective to the complexities of Irish conflict. I plan to draw on this literary heritage for inspiration as I write a themed pamphlet exploring the impact of ‘The Troubles’.


The Tyrone Guthrie artists’ retreat centre nestled amongst the beautiful lakes and drumlins of County Monaghan will offer a tranquil backdrop for the development of this work.


Meath County Council Cultural Services is delighted to congratulate Jim on his award.