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Poetry Aloud

Visitors are seated in the Reading Room at the National Library of Ireland, watching a woman speak during a Poetry Aloud event

Poetry Aloud is an annual poetry speaking competition open to all post-primary students on the island of Ireland which is organised by the NLI and Poetry Ireland and supported by UCC.

Poetry Aloud celebrates the joy of speaking and listening to poetry among post-primary students on the island of Ireland. 

Poetry Aloud engages students with spoken poetry, building confidence and pride in our written heritage. 

Participants from three categories (Junior, Intermediate and Senior) learn one prescribed poem and one poem of their choosing from selected anthologies and compete at regional heats, semi-finals and the national final in the National Library of Ireland.

Past participants in Poetry Aloud are included in recorded pieces reading letters and poems in the library’s exhibitions, have participated in commemorative events in the NLI and events organised by Poetry Ireland, and have gone on to pursue careers in acting and become published poets.


History of Poetry Aloud

The national competition began as Yeats Aloud in 2006 becoming Poetry Aloud in 2007 and has attracted thousands of entries since then.

The late Seamus Heaney was a supporter of Poetry Aloud stating “it brings poetry into the memory and affections of the young in a way that will make it a lifelong possession and value” when he nominated it for the accompanying Clarissa Luard Award. When he won the David Cohen Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Literature, he nominated Poetry Aloud for the accompanying Clarissa Luard Award. 


How it works

Poetry Aloud runs from September to December.

The three categories are:

  • Junior: 1st and 2nd year from Republic of Ireland and years 8, 9 and 10 from Northern Ireland
  • Intermediate: 3rd and 4th year from Republic of Ireland and years 11 and 12 from Northern Ireland
  • Senior: 5th and 6th year from Republic of Ireland and upper and lower 6th years from Northern Ireland

The competition involves regional heats, semi-finals and the national final.

In 2020 and 2021 Poetry Aloud was run as a virtual competition.
In 2022, the first round of the competition is a virtual competition.

The closing date for submission is Friday 29 September.

See below on how to enter.

For further information, email poetryaloud@nli.ie

  • Participating teachers are to select students to represent their school from all or any of the three categories (Junior, Intermediate, Senior).
  • Teachers will submit a phone video recording of the students speaking the prescribed poem from memory (professional recording is not required).
  • Adjudicators representing Poetry Ireland and the National Library of Ireland will adjudicate the entries.
  • Guidelines for entries below must be consulted and entries submitted by email only to poetryaloud@nli.ie

Students speak one poem according to their category

Junior Category: Overhead by Jamie O’Halloran
Intermediate Category:  The Lookout by Jane Clarke
Senior Category: At the Court of the Curlews, Magheramore by Martin Dyar

Only the prescribed poem for each category will constitute a valid entry.

The judges’ decision is final, and no correspondence of any kind will be entered into consideration.

Videos submitted will only be viewed by the adjudicating panel and will not be retained once the adjudication process in the first round is completed.

  • Film with a portrait orientation. 
  • Face the camera from a 2-metre distance minimum.
  • Students must cite the name of the poem and the poet before speaking the poem.    
  • All poems must be spoken from memory.
  • Each poem should be filmed in one single shot from one static angle. 
  • The sound and picture must be clear. 
  • Do not add music, graphics, titles, virtual backgrounds, or computer animation.
  • Use of professional recording studios is prohibited
  • Entries must be accompanied by the following:

    Teacher name
    Name and address of school
    Teacher contact email 
    Names and category of students

What is Poetry Aloud?

Poetry Aloud Final 2022

Poetry Aloud Final 2021 (Virtual competition)

Poetry Aloud 2020 Results