Bard of Armagh



   Ireland’s biggest annual gathering of poets takes place in Armagh City Hotel on 20 November when the celebrated Bard of Armagh Festival of Humorous Verse reaches the remarkable milestone of 21 years of bardic revelry and satire. Prior to that, the last recorded gathering of bards was on Sieve Gullion in 1774!  £3000 in prize money will be shared amongst the top performers.

As the frolics of summer diminish and the darker evenings descend, aspiring poets and bards begin to rumble through the creative chambers of the imagination to seek out and craft new rhymes and compositions.  The Bard shoots are beginning to appear and will reach the point of ripeness on 20 November.  Last year’s winner Seamus Carolan from Roslea has had a busy year performing his winning ode ‘Agony Aunt Frankie’ to appreciative audiences in such places as New York and London.

“People find it easy to identify with the theme which was based on the very popular Frankie Byrne’s programme on Radio Eireann in the sixties, when it seemed that the whole population of Ireland listened to Frankie solving the problems of the country.   Getting started with the poem was the hardest bit then with a bit of tweaking it sort of wrote itself” said Seamus


With 1 October as the closing date, there is already a huge bag of entries, and a miscellany of themes ranging from ‘sledging and diving’ to ‘tattoos beards and crewcuts’ to ‘sneerin’ at Shearin’.  The Bards are well able to radiate that special energy that connects with the audience and enable them to become absorbed into the poem.  They are facilitators of fun, crafters of laughter, purveyors of puns and rascals of rhyming.


People travel from every corner of Ireland and from abroad to savour this unique cultural event and rare sense of occasion.  John Costello, from making his first appearance with a group from Cork last year had this to say:


“I heard so much about the Bard that I decided to attend the November Finals and do my own objective evaluation.   I can now make an informed judgement.  I was really bowled over by the sheer quality and stage-craft of all the sixteen performers, the audience was totally immersed in the atmosphere of it all and most importantly I laughed like I never laughed before.  I am now fully  hooked into this irresistible event and can’t wait until I make the pilgrimage again in November”



So the call goes out to one and all, seize the moment of inspiration and craft it into a masterpiece and follow in the footsteps of the great and good that have graced the lectern over the years.  Details can be found on and tickets for the finals are  available at the following venues in early September


Armagh City Hotel, Friary Rd Armagh.

Mona McEntee, Supermarket, Main St. Crossmaglen.

Sally Carolan, House of Gold, Dawson St Monaghan.

The Tommy Makem Arts and Community Centre, The Square Keady.

Stewart’s Music Shop, Irish St Dungannon.


Or through the website.

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