28 January 2009: Arts Council congratulates Sebastian Barry on winning the Costa Book of the Year Award

The Arts Council extends its warmest congratulations to writer Sebastian Barry on the news that he has won the 2008 Costa Book of the Year Award for his exquisite and compelling novel The Secret Scripture.

The novel, which was also shortlisted for this year’s Booker prize, was one of a five-strong list for the award which is chosen from the winners of the other Costa categories.

Following the announcement Sarah Bannan, head of literature at the Arts Council said, "Sebastian Barry is a gifted writer, who has turned his hand to every form of writing - poetry, prose, drama - and has done so with tremendous success. The Costa Book of the Year Award is richly deserved for this lyric and dramatic novel and in recognition of Barry’s unwavering commitment to the craft of writing. Barry is a writer who connects with his readers, and while his work speaks of history, it speaks perhaps more forcefully of humanity."

She continues: "Ireland is renowned for its rich literary tradition and its dynamic contemporary writers. International awards such as the Costa Book Award are further testament to Ireland’s standing as a centre of literary excellence.  The Council has awarded a number of grants to Mr. Barry over the course of his writing life; his success today speaks of the importance of investment in our artistic community."   

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Yelemba dance troupe from the Ivory Coast - Clonmel Junction Festival.

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