The winners

6th place: Maria Taaffe from Thurles, Co. Tipperary. ‘To Risketh or Not To Risketh’.

Two schoolboys want an adventure so they plan an escape for after school. They keep on walking into the wild unknown. One boy wants to run away but the other boy misses his cat so they both return home to get the cat. Getting a job poses another problem but the cat loving boy wants to do his maths test first which means the journey must be postponed for another week. They then realise that they won’t be 17 for a few weeks. To risketh or not to risketh – that is the question.

5th place: Alena Healy Lloyd. ‘Tough Choices’

A 1950s couple show a mix of empathy and worry as they are subjected to shame because their teenage unwed daughter has given birth to a baby. A compromising situation arises when the Garda Sergeant advises the young mother, in her own home, to contact the nuns and that seeing to the welfare of this child is his duty. A broken young mother is rescued by her dad who trusts in her ability to rear her own son. He financially supports her by securing the help of a neighbour who can get them both on the ship safely for America the next day. In a tearful embrace she agrees. A tough choice for all but a happy bonding relationship opportunity.

4th place: Sinéad Ní Bhaoighill from Ballinteer, Co. Dublin. ‘Song of Ghosts’

A traumatised twin girl, who has lost her twin sister and her dad in a car accident that she survived, remains like a ghost to her mother who blames her late arrival for causing her father to speed. In her violent tantrums mother forbids her daughter to play the piano. Her on-going collapsed drinking state was the only safe opportunity for her daughter to get to play the piano and speak her feelings into a tape recorder. Writing music pieces and uploading them online gained her a competition recognition by the Association of Irish Music Societies for her classic piece ‘Aftermath’ – a lifetime prize that jumpstarted her career and healed her hurting giving her a home in music. Tape recorded messages from her mother were the only words of apology, love and recognition that she got. Home for mother was no more.

3rd place: Aoife Fingleton from Ballinteer, Co. Dublin. ‘Mr. Piddles’

An upmarket resident group try to distance themselves from gossiping but they feed themselves right into the middle of it at the local grocers’ shop. One resident is well known for her fondness of cats even though she doesn’t own one because of her husband’s allergy. A new resident has lost her tabby-cat Mr Piddles and the resident with a fondness for cats is her first stop. This call is not welcome so the visiting resident tells her how complimentary residents were towards her for placing a dainty dish of full cream beside the coal bunker for visiting cats to drink. A shock faced denial by the cat loving resident who mentions that the same group accused her of indulging herself by eating two chocolate cakes regularly. Just then the delivery boy arrives calling out the contents – “full cream, ham, bread and two chocolate cakes” – blowing her cover. The visiting resident asks “Do you care to explain?”

2nd place: Lucy Johnson from Kenmare, Co. Kerry. ‘A Place not a Home’

A nursing home scene of elderly people, some sleeping, some staring into space or at one another or waiting for visitors. One resident is visited by her granddaughter who brings her a Sudoku book, in which she has no interest, creating an uneasy feeling. A phone search for ideas leads to resentment again by grandma who accuses her of having no imagination and lacking creativity. A creative meaning is found when granddaughter explains her poetry storage on her phone and reads from it a poem she has written about her grandma called ‘A place not a home’. A shared feeling of interest and belonging is found when Grandma tells her about her book of poems, at her old house, and that one poem is about the day her granddaughter was born – a promised home visit search.

1st place: Amelia O’Donnell. ‘Gan Dídean’

A homeless girl feels invisible as she wishes the passers by ‘A Merry Christmas’ and calls out “Any change for the homeless?” She ponders on her so called home that was – a roof over her head but not a refuge. Now street teenagers ridicule her and trample on her paper cup. She is attacked by an aggressive male homeless person who delivers a punch to her face. Her notebook is her whole world home escape as she likes to write. She questions her heart feelings as to what life her soul will lead and if it will be fulfilling. “Am I just a lesson for other people or will this life be the making of the breaking for me?” A supermarket worker who cared for her found her a source of comfort and guidance. She valued her literary writing pieces left behind on paper napkins. These writings she kept alive in her memory after an unsympathetic Garda orders the homeless girl to move, handcuffing her for disturbing the peace.