bfriel2Brian Friel RIP

It is with immense sadness that members of Irish PEN learned of the death of Brian Friel, a winner of the Irish PEN Award in 2000, Brian was President of Irish PEN from 2003 onwards. He was an outstanding playwright and shed lustre on the Irish literary scene for many years. He will be greatly missed by his friends and admirers worldwide and not least by members of Irish PEN.

Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin (Chair)



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Irish PEN Award 2015

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne was presented with the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature 2015 at the Irish PEN Award Dinner on Friday 20th February 2015. The dinner is held each year at The Royal St George Yacht Club, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin and open to both members and non members of PEN, was a packed house.

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne said, ‘It’s a great honour and a great delight to receive this award from Irish PEN and to find myself in such illustrious company as Edna O’Brien, Maeve Binchy, Jennifer Johnston & Frank McGuinness’

With the award presented by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD, Minister of State for Equality, New Communities & Culture, the evening was a true celebration of Éilís’ contribution to Irish Literature.

The 2015 award trophy is sponsored by the national online writing magazine & resources website founded by Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin of The Inkwell Group. Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, current Chair of Irish PEN said, “ is delighted to be sponsoring this prestigious trophy again this year. Éilís is an extremely popular recipient and it was lovely to see such huge support for her on the night.”

Irish PEN is the Centre in Ireland for PEN, an international association of writers which promotes literature and defends freedom of expression. Anyone can sign the PEN Charter on and associate membership is open to all. Full membership is open to all qualified writers who sign the charter. PEN, which stands for poets, playwrights, editors, essayists and novelists, is a non-political organization with special consultative status at UNESCO and the United Nations. Founded in 1921, it has from its earliest days in Ireland been associated with Lady Gregory, W.B. Yeats, and Lord Longford. The President of Irish PEN is the acclaimed playwright Brian Friel.

About the Award

In 1998 Irish PEN set up an award to honour an Irish writer who has made an outstanding contribution to Irish Literature. This Award is for a significant body of work, written and produced over a number of years, and is open to novelists, playwrights, poets, and scriptwriters. Full and associate members of Irish PEN, as well as previous winners, nominate and vote for the candidate. The writer is presented with the Award in the company of other writers at our annual dinner.

About Éilís Ní Dhuibhne 

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne was born in Dublin in 1954 and is a graduate of UCD. She studied at UCD – studying Pure English for the BA, doing an M Phil in Middle English and Old Irish, and finishing in 1982 with a Ph D in Folklore. From 1978-9 she studied at the Folklore Institute in the University of Copenhagen as a research scholar, while researching her doctoral thesis.

She published her first story in the New Irish Writing Page in the Irish Press, in 1974. Her first book was published in 1988, Blood and Water, and since then she has written about 24 books, including  novels, collections of short stories, several books for children, plays and non-fiction works. She writes in both Irish and English.

She has won several awards for her writing over the years including The Bisto Book of the Year Award, the Readers’ Association of Ireland Award, the Stewart Parker Award for Drama, the Butler Award for Prose from the Irish American Cultural Institute and several Oireachtas awards for novels and plays in Irish. The novel The Dancers Dancing was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her stories are widely anthologized and translated. Her latest novel for young people, Dordán, was published in autumn 2010, and the last collection of short stories, The Shelter of Neighbours, was published in 2012. She was elected to Aosdána in 2004.

Previous winners of the Irish PEN Award:

1999 John B.Keane

2000 Brian Friel

2001 Edna O’Brien

2002 William Trevor

2003 John McGahern

2004 Neil Jordan

2005 Seamus Heaney

2006 Jennifer Johnston

2007 Maeve Binchy

2008 Thomas Kilroy

2009 Roddy Doyle

2010 Brendan Kennelly

2011 Colm Tóibín

2012 Joseph O’Connor

2013 John Banville

2014 Frank McGuinness

About Irish PEN

PEN was founded by novelist Catherine Amy Dawson Scott who envisaged a dinner club where well-known writers could meet socially. The first dinner was held at the prestigious Café Royal in London in October 1921 with 41 writers in attendance, including Joseph Conrad, John Galsworthy and D.H. Lawrence.

Galsworthy became PEN’s first president and persuaded a reluctant George Bernard Shaw to join. Shaw complained about the irritation of the guinea-a-year fee and told Galsworthy to take twenty guineas and make him a life member.

Lady Augusta Gregory, the dramatist, folklorist and translator, set up the first branch of Irish PEN. However Irish writers of the time proved solitary and wary of discussing their work and it wasn’t until 1934, under the auspices of Lord Longford, Sean O’Faolain and Bulmer Hobson that it began to thrive. Learn more here about Irish PEN and the PEN Charter.

Today Irish PEN provides a monthly meeting point for writers of all levels of experience and genres and works with International PEN on areas of international concern to writers. We meet at the United Arts Club in Fitzwiliam Street, Dublin 2.

The Irish PEN Lifetime Achievement Award is one of the most prestigious given to a writer in Ireland. Read more about the Award here.

Irish PEN currently has no state support or funding and is run by a voluntary committee. Membership fees are vital to our survival so please contact us to become a member!