Michael McLaverty Short Story Award 2023 Winners Announced

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19 March 2024

Tenaya Steed has won the prestigious Linen Hall Michael McLaverty Short Story Award for her story ‘Heavenly Mutha’. The two runners-up are Helena Close for ‘Under the Bridge’ and Ciarán Folan for ‘The Quiet of the Lake’.

On Wednesday, March 13th, a prestigious award ceremony unfolded at The Linen Hall, enhanced by prominent literary figures from across Ireland. It was during this event that the winners’ names were announced.

The winner will receive £2,000 and the winning story will be published in a limited-edition anthology along with the stories of the runners-up, who also receive £250 each. The anthology entitled Heavenly Mutha and Other Stories is available to purchase in The Linen Hall.

The Michael McLaverty Award was set up to foster and encourage the tradition of the Irish short story. It has run biennially since its inception in 2006. Michael McLaverty (1904 – 1992) was one of the foremost proponents of the Irish short story. His archive was donated to The Linen Hall by the Literary Executors of Michael McLaverty in 2005. Adjudicators for this year’s competition were critically acclaimed writer Bernie McGill (This Train is For, The Watch House and The Butterfly Cabinet) and Emma Warnock, Editor at No Alibis Press.

The winner, Tenaya Steed, said: “When I got the email saying I was a finalist for The Michael McLaverty Short Story Award, I was on cloud nine all day. I kept re-reading the message. It took all I had not to print it out, laminate it, glue gun it to the wall. Despite my joy for making the shortlist, I had no real expectations of winning; I joked to friends that I was going for ‘Best Dressed’ instead. To have won this, then, is to have been confronted with the reality that my work can and should be taken seriously. For my story to have been chosen by Bernie McGill and Emma Warnock is especially meaningful; I truly admire Bernie’s work and No Alibis Press.  

Heavenly Mutha is my first published story, so you can imagine what this means to me as a new writer. And if you can’t imagine it, try to imagine the sound of my own mutha sobbing soap opera style in the Linen Hall audience when I was announced as winner. That should do it.

Bernie McGill, adjudicator of the competition, said: “Michael McLaverty would exhort his pupils to ‘Look for the intimate thing’, would praise the ‘note of exile’ that is redolent in the stories of the Russian writers he so admired. I would vouchsafe that all three of these excellent stories contain both the intimacy and the exile that McLaverty so passionately advocated for. 

The Linen Hall Librarian Samantha McCombe said: “From a high volume and calibre of entries, the winning stories reflect the richness and diversity of the short story form. We are delighted that the Michael McLaverty Award is celebrating and supporting the flourishing art of the short story in the name of one of its foremost proponents.

For more information about the 2023 Michael McLaverty Short Story Award, please visit The Linen Hall website www.linenhall.com