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December NUI Galway Academic Wins Inaugural Michel Déon Prize for Non-Fiction
Dr Breandán Mac Suibhne, a Senior Research Fellow with NUI Galway’s Moore Institute, has won the Royal Irish Academy’s inaugural Michel Déon Prize for non-fiction for his book The End of Outrage: Post-Famine Adjustment in Rural Ireland. The award was announced this week at a ceremony held in Dublin.
Dr Mac Suibhne receives a prize of €10,000 and will deliver ‘The Michel Déon Lecture’ in France in early 2019. His book was selected from a group of 76 nominated titles and a shortlist of six books. The category of non-fiction encompassed by the prize includes works of autobiography, biography, cultural studies, history, literary studies, philosophy and travel. Eligibility was open to authors of any nationality currently living on the island of Ireland who had published a non-fiction book in the period July 2016 to July 2018.
The End of Outrage: Post-Famine Adjustment in Rural Ireland, published by Oxford University Press, tells a story of struggles over land, and acts of duplicity, informing and violence that took place in a small community in nineteenth-century Donegal. The narrative focuses on a schoolmaster who turned informer on a secret society – ostensibly in order to protect a farmer, James Gallagher, who had acquired land from his neighbours in the immediate aftermath of the Famine. It is at once a history and a memoir as the author’s forebears were among those who had lost land to Gallagher, and Dr Mac Suibhne probes how his own people came to terms with their loss. The End of Outrage was The Irish Times Irish Non-fiction Book of the Year in 2017, and in 2018 the American Conference for Irish Studies awarded it the Donnelly Prize for Books in History and Social Science.
Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, was among those who nominated the book for the Michel Déon Prize. Professor Carey, said: “The End of Outrage is a remarkable achievement – a brilliantly written and researched book that gives a hugely compelling account. It brings a new dimension to the writing of Irish history. As a work of style and storytelling it is worthy of Michel Déon.”
Speaking after winning the inaugural award, Dr Breandán Mac Suibhne from NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway has a remarkable tradition in the study of nineteenth-century Ireland—its economy, its politics, and its literature, in Irish and English. I was lucky to have been a Fellow of the Moore Institute when working on the book and to have had access to the wonderful resources and staff of the Hardiman Library, as well as the support and advice of colleagues in different departments and the Centre for Irish Studies. Galway is such a great place to think.”
Professor Michael Cronin, Chair of the Royal Irish Academy’s judging committee commented: “We were absolutely delighted with the calibre of entries for this inaugural prize and feel that Breandán is a very worthy winner and one that Michel Déon would be proud of. The judges felt that The End of Outrage was a beautifully written, well told, compelling narrative and a very interesting way to look at a period of history.”
Helen McEntee T.D., Minister of State for European Affairs, said: “I would like to join in congratulating Breandán Mac Suibhne and all of the shortlisted authors. The Michel Déon Prize supports modern writers of non-fiction and new artists who seek to develop and strengthen their cultural work. I am delighted that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has funded this prize, and I look forward to it growing as a key moment in our shared cultural calendar.”
The prize, sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, reflects the work and interests of the French writer Michel Déon, a member of the Académie française, who made his home in Ireland from the 1970s until his death in 2016.
The late Michel Déon was Adjunct Professor and honorary graduate of NUI Galway. Over many years, through his association with the discipline of French as Adjunct Professor in the University, he showed generous support for students there, and shared his vast collection of books (7,000) with the University Library in a gesture of great philanthropy and friendship.
For full details of the prize visit: www.ria.ie/michel-deon-prize.