Ted McNulty Prize

Ted McNulty Prize


About the Prize

The Ted McNulty Prize is awarded in memory of poet Ted McNulty, who was a popular and highly-regarded figure on the Irish poetry scene.  The prize is awarded to the best poem published by an Irish or Irish-resident poet in Poetry Ireland Review at the end of an editorship.  Winners of the prize receive a cash prize of €1000 plus the Ted McNulty Trophy.  Both the prize donor and this year’s adjudicator wish to remain anonymous. 

Congratulations to Nerys Williams, the latest winner of the Ted McNulty Prize. Nerys is a lecturer in the School of English, Drama and Film at UCD.  Her poem, The Dead Zoo, was published in PIR 85 in 2005 under the stewardship of Peter Sirr

The Dead Zoo
-for John Peel


In the dead zoo we walk an afternoon
touching the giraffe with a sutured stomach

and the bull seal with a broken ear
the gazelles too are thinking

about the jungle kings sun kissed and light bleached
making a performance of their anger

All hips and grimaces the hyenas
pass silent commentary on our clothes

And I remember finding the bat in daylight
on the schoolyard wall, its cape and hooks

trembling, broken by the colourwash of light
it hated being stroked.

We had a bat funeral ceremony that summer
which followed other rituals

wreath laying for roadkill, bouquets for robins
and elegies for tame jackdaws

Stranger to find oneself here with these exhibitionists
teasing us that they are alive still.


Music is a skin.
Notes at the tips of my fingers.
Fingertips at the edge of my song.

After the elegies and the websites
after the obituaries and the radio stories
after the musicians and magazines
after the bulletins and the brouhaha
there was nothing left but teenage kicks.


So I take you to the dead zoo
your own private Gethsemane
to curate the animals into action


I will use your words against mine with mine and on mine
I will play all your records at the same time

the unreleased singles and demos
causing cacophony on the dance floors

rhythm is a bright confusion
I will say that music is homesickness

And you can give me your unheimlich
as an elegy of recognition.


Previous Winners of the Prize

Cathal Ó Searcaigh
Tom French
John F Deane
David Butler
Vincent Woods
Thomas Kinsella


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