Read DL Poetry Competition Winners

Read DL 2020 has now drawn to a close not with the bang they had hoped for but not with a whimper either!

The Closing Ceremony which was due to take place in the Balor Theatre, Ballybofey on the 26th March had to be cancelled due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Despite the enforced closure of all schools, the pandemic did not deter our budding poets in Donegal and 90 entries were received for the Creative Writing Competition organised by the project. Indeed, some were inspired by their experiences of living through the pandemic to write poems on the subject.

The Read DL “One Book, One Community” initiative is designed to bring local people together through reading and discussing the same book. This has the dual effect of building a sense of community while promoting literacy. In a departure from previous years and to mark the 10th year of the Read DL Project a poetry book was chosen for the first time – “Hopscotch in the Sky” by Lucinda Jacob.

Not without some trepidation and feeling well outside our comfort zone, Read DL 2020   embarked on their poetic journey inspired by a partnership with the outgoing Laureate na nÓg and award-winning poet Sarah Crossan. This partnership offered the opportunity to 5 schools across the county to undertake poetry workshops with local poet Denise Blake. 

Approximately 120 Pupils from Dromore N.S. Killygordon; Cloontagh N.S. Clonmany; Scoil Eoin Baiste Carrigart; Killaghtee N.S. Dunkineeley and Letterkenny Educate Together created their own poems in these workshops with the help of Denise. These were to be read at the planned Closing Ceremony in March. Unfortunately this did not take place but the poems are now housed in the National Laureate na nÓg archive.  

Over 2000 books – the purchase of which was  financed by Letterkenny Institute of Technology and Donegal  Education and Training Board – were distributed to 53 Primary Schools, 15 Secondary Schools, 6 Youthreach Centres, all ETB Learning for Living Centres, 2 Community Groups and 2 individuals/families over the course of this year’s project. The figures illustrate the astonishing growth of the initiative since its inception 10 years ago when 2 schools took part and less than 100 books were needed.

Lucinda Jacob writes in her introduction to Hopscotch in the Sky that “Ideas for poems are all around us; all we have to do is keep our ears and eyes open.” In a video message posted to the Read DL website she encouraged the students to use their imaginations and keep writing. It was apparent from the entries to the Creative Writing Competition that the young people took her words to heart and submitted poems on a wide variety of topics  and themes ranging from the seasons, colours, animals, friendship, football, families and a subject that no one had heard of when the Read DL Project was launched –  Covid 19.

In the absence of a Closing Ceremony a 10 to 15 min video will be compiled for the website with contributions from Lucinda Jacob, Denise Blake, poetry winners, artwork by schools etc. This will be available to view in September.

The winners of the Creative Writing Competition were announced on Around The Northwest by John Breslin on Highland Radio. In the Primary School category winners from 1st place to 3rd were Chloe Doherty St. Patrick’s Girls National School, Carndonagh; Eiran and David from Ballymore National School, Dunfanaghy. Secondary school winning entries from 1st place to 3rd were Hurrera Simon from Letterkenny Youth Reach, Aishling Doherty from Carndonagh Community College and Conor Cleary from Crana College, Buncrana. Irish Language poetry winners were Aisling Ní Dhochartaigh from Carndonagh Community School and Fionnuala de Brún from Pobalscoil Bhun an Phobail. Many congratulations to all winners. 

Links to Video & Poetry Toolkit

Links to Audio Book

A special message…

Today we were supposed to be celebrating #ReadDL2020, but now we have to do that safely indoors! As a special way to mark the day, writer Lucinda Jacob has a very special message for you all…

Important announcement for our readers…

It’s with a heavy heart that we have to cancel all remaining Read DL events. We’ll review what we can do regarding hosting a closing ceremony at a later date. In the meantime, we encourage all our readers to keep reading our chosen book this year, and to write as much you can (we have waivered the deadline for our writing competition this year).

Thank you so much for all your support.

The Read DL team.

Poetry Top Tips!

Every week, Read DL will be posting up a series of tips to help you write poetry. This will be very useful for all of those thinking of taking part in our Creative Writing competition (updates on that very soon!). In the meantime, here’s our first pro-poetry tip:

Are you wanting to write poetry, but don’t quite know where to start? Well the first thing you need is INSPIRATION, so make sure to bring a notebook and pen with you wherever you go. It’s important to start to see the world around you, and really see it: if you notice some birds huddling together, jot that down; if you hear an interesting word, or phrase, or see the sunlight dance off a shiny new car, make note of it. The world is really interesting when you start to look! Then read what you have written aloud, and don’t be afraid to make changes if necessary. Remember your first scribbles are the idea-generators, and then you revise and make it the poem you want it to be!

Read DL 2020

Over 2,000 people across Donegal are setting off on a poetic journey this spring with the launch of Read DL 2020. The “One Book, One Community” reading initiative has teamed up with the office of the Laureate na nÓg to deliver a twist to their annual reading adventure with an aim to spark an interest in poetry. The current Laureate na nÓg, Sarah Crossan is a renowned poet and fiction author for children and young adults with Donegal roots. Under the partnership, 5 workshops will be delivered in primary schools across Donegal where local author Denise Blake will work with children to create their own poems. A select number of these poems will be read aloud to the audience at the Read DL closing ceremony at the Balor at the end of March. 

This year, Read DL is celebrating 10 years of partnership between the stakeholders involved. It operates under a multiagency committee led by coordinators from Errigal College, Letterkenny Educate Together NS, Donegal ETB, LYIT and Donegal County Council Library Service. The success of the Project can be attributed to the strength of the cooperation between these organisations. Good working relationships have been established with the common aim of building a sense of community while promoting the value of reading and literacy. 

Leas Cathoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Niamh Kennedy paid tribute to the successful partnership approach of all the stakeholders involved in the initiative. “By bringing together local agencies to support literacy and reading development we are able to deliver a coordinated, sustainable and standardised approach to providing services in the community.” 

She continued by praising the great work of the Read DL committee by highlighting it as “a great example of how a community focus and partnership approach to lifelong learning and social inclusion can be applied to have a positive impact on so many lives.” 

This year’s chosen book is ‘Hopscotch in the Sky’ by Lucinda Jacob which is a beautifully written accessible collection of poems. Lucinda is a poet, illustrator and author of fiction for young people. She has written and illustrated a number of picture books and storybooks for new readers, scripts for the national broadcaster RTÉ and poetry for older children and has been published in numerous collections. This beautiful book also includes a rainbow of enchanting illustration by award-winning artist Lauren O’Neill, winner of the Children’s Books Ireland Award for Illustration in 2016.  

Speaking on behalf of the Read DL committee at the launch, Karen Sheehy Staff Officer with Donegal County Library Service encourages participants to seek out poems that resonate with them. “This year’s book was selected not just for its wonderful poems and beautiful illustrations, but also because it is a wonderful introduction or re-introduction to poetry in a way that is simple and accessible for everyone. Let it be a stepping stone for further exploration.” She continued by emphasising the community aspect of the initiative by inviting everyone to delve into poetry this spring. “There is a huge range of poetry available in libraries either in your local branch or online. Your library card enables you to borrow up to 12 books at a time, so you can borrow a few to help find something that resonates with you. There is also an opportunity for budding poets to enter the Read DL writing competition and attend a series of community based events county-wide so there’s plenty to get involved in. 

Getting involved 

Registration for group participation in this year’s programme is now closed, but individual copies of the book are available at your local library. Visit to reserve your copy. You can also visit for further information and learning activities to accompany ‘Hopscotch in the Sky’ and previous READ DL titles. Stay up to date by following Read DL on Facebook @readdlsocial and Twitter @ReadDonegal

Registration has now opened!

Registration for Read DL 2020 has now opened! Click here to get involved.

The closing date for receipt of registrations is 4pm on Wednesday 15th January 2020 – no registrations accepted after this date please as you will not be included in the project this year.

Important note: The amount of books requested by each school can impact on the participation of another. With this mind, please choose carefully the amount of books you need, and potentially consider sharing books between class groups. Thank you!

Read DL 2020 – Call for Schools!

Its that time of year again when we are thinking of READ DL 2020 – our 10th Anniversary Year!

This year we have teamed up with The Laureate Na Nóg Sarah Crossan on her poetry project called #WeAreThePoets which will host a workshop for one lucky primary school in each Electoral District in the County. Please see the points below before your consider your response. 

One school will be selected from each municipal district and a poetry workshop will be delivered at the school.

The workshop will take place at the selected school in January. Please do not put your schools name forward if you cannot facilitate a workshop at this time

The Workshop will consist of 2 x 1.5hr sessions in the day with 15 pupils max in each session. In the event where there are more than 30 pupils in the class participating in Read DL pupils will need to be nominated to take part.

This lottery is only open to schools who will be participating in this year’s Read DL (registration for Read DL 2020 will take place shortly).

Participants in workshops will be expected to read their poems to an audience at the closing ceremony which will take place on 26th March 2020 in The Balor Theatre, Ballybofey.

Please email if you wish to be included in the lottery for each Electoral Area by 2pm on Wednesday 27th November

Read DL 2019 Events

We had a fantastic time for Read DL 2019, as events were hosted across the county inspired by the book Mr Stink.

Read DL committee members and LYIT Library staff at the end of the daly-long Reading Event

Thank you to all who attended these events, as well as Donegal County Library Service, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and their Library staff, and Insomnia Coffee Company for kindly hosting these events throughout the six-week reading period.

Our very own Mr Stink (and The Duchess!) at the performance event at Insomnia Coffee Company, Letterkenny

Read DL 2019 Closing Ceremony

Some volunteers from Letterkenny Educate Together, who did a great job helping out on the day!

Participants of Read DL 2019 received a welcome surprise as Mr David Williams sent the students a special video to thank them for choosing his book, Mr Stink, to read this year. In response, the group made sure to send him a very special message back.

Special message from David Walliams to everyone at Read DL
Participants of Read DL 2019 thanking David Walliams for his book, Mr Stink!

Also, each participating school got the opportunity to showcase their wonderful projects inspired by the story, and the winners of the Creative Writing Competition, the biggest so far with over 192 entries, were revealed.

Courtesy of the LYIT and ETB, a total of 2285 books were distributed throughout the county and 100 copies were made publically available through the library network. In addition, new dimensions were added; such as the development of a Read DL app, 3 library family events, 2 public reading events and an exhibition of artwork at the LYIT.

Speaking at the closing ceremony Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr. Seamus O’Domhnaill congratulated all those who participated in this year’s initiative explaining to pupils how “reading is a pastime that will reap long term rewards”. He also thanked the committee for their “collaboration and dedication to making this years’ initiative one of the best yet.”