The Annie McHale Debut Novel of the Year Award


Annie McHale was a wonderful, warm, inspiring and creative lady who entered the hearts of everyone she met. Her smile reassured, cast worries aside and for those fortunate enough to receive it, stranger or friend, their lives were the better for it.

Annie loved anything creative and instilled in me a sense of thinking outside the box. If you can imagine it, then you can create it or at least have great fun trying. All my endevours as a child were not exactly bankable, but she always told me they were great and exactly what I set out to achieve.

As you have probably figured out by now, Annie McHale is my mother. I always remember her with a book in her hand. She had one in every room, kitchen, sitting room, bedroom. She could have three novels going on at the same time, and she knew each one individually.  It was her west of Ireland upbringing that brought the love of storytelling.  I hope I received at least a pinch of her creativity.

It was to honor her memory that I created this award. She always admired anyone who took a chance on their beliefs and kept going towards their goal. It is extremely hard to get a first book published, to find that one person who sees your dream and runs with it. So this award is to spur you on in your challenge and your goals.


All new debut novels launched in 2017 through a recognised publishing house will be eligible to enter. Please send your personal details and novel information to my email: 

A longlist will be published in December 2017, short list in January 2018 and winner announced in February 2018

Best of luck

Here are past winners of the award.

2016  ‘THE MEMORY OF MUSIC’  by Olive Collins

The Memory of Music is a story spanning three generations of an Irish family over 100 years beginning with 1916. Betty Fogarty longs to escape rural live so elopes with her husband Seamus to Dublin. She is horrified when she discoversall they can afford is thepoverty stricken  tenements. Believing in her husband Seamus’ talent as a violin maker she vows to take them out of the hovel and make a better life for them. Seamus however, becomes interested in the revolution and she gives birth to her first born among the gunfire. One hundred years on, secrets from Betty’s past find their way to the surface where her grandchildren and great grandchildren realise just how ruthless she was in her bid for a better life.


2015 ‘THE HERBALIST’ by Niamh Boyce

The Herbalist is set in the 1930’s where a dark stranger arrives in a small Irish town with his potions and lotions. The women of the town see him as the answer to their problems saving them from public disgrace, of abuse, of sordid death, of being carted off to a laundry. The herbalist remains mysterious and becomes the talk of the town, entwined in each woman’s story. While the characters are fictional, the story is based on real life event of the herbalist that caught the attention of Boyce. The subject matter is dark but dealt with,at times, in a light humourous way while still maintaining the seriousness of the subject matter.

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