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.

Keep scrolling to view recordings of past competitions.


For further information, email poetryaloud@nli.ie

Poetry Aloud Final 2022

Poetry Aloud Final 2021 (Virtual competition)

Poetry Aloud 2020 Results