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Loyola alumna receives prestigious writing award

Loyola press release - June 29, 2009

Claire Keegan, a 1992 Loyola University New Orleans College of Arts and Sciences graduate, was awarded the 2009 Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award and €25,000, approximately $40,000, on Monday, June 22. The award, honoring the long-standing tradition of short story writing in Ireland, was bestowed at the Davy Byrnes Gourmet Pub and Restaurant in Dublin, a favorite hangout of Irish writer James Joyce.

Keegan’s winning short story, “Foster,” was chosen from a pool of 800 entries by American fiction writer Richard Ford. Caroline Walsh, literary editor of The Irish Times, presented the award.

“‘Foster’ is a child’s rapt and eloquent vision of life-in-tumult between two families,” said Ford. “In lifting a homely rural life to our moral notice, the story exhibits a patient attention to life’s vast consequence and finality, and does so through a lavish, discriminating appetite for language and its profound capacity to return us to life renewed.”

Keegan was raised on a farm in Wicklow, Ireland. She completed her undergraduate studies in English and politics at Loyola, and subsequently earned a Master of Arts degree in writing from the University of Wales at Cardiff, and a Master of Philosophy degree from Trinity College, Dublin.

“Foster” is not the first of Keegan’s stories to win acclaim. “Antarctica,” was a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year and earned her the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, and “Walk the Blue Fields” won the Edge Hill Prize. Keegan is a member of Aosdána, a 240-person council formed to honor artists whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland. She now lives on Ireland’s Wexford coast.

For more information, contact Sean Snyder in Loyola’s Office of Public Affairs at smsnyder@loyno.edu or call 504-861-5882.

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