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The RTÉ Short Story Competition 2021

Writing.ie | Magazine | Writing Competitions

By Writing.ie

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Competition deadline: 7th May 2021

The RTÉ Short Story Competition 2021 in honour of Francis MacManus is now open for entries…

Entrants have until Friday 7 May to submit their short story to the competition, which will be judged by writers Lisa McInerney, Declan Hughes and Lucy Caldwell.

The 35-year-old literary prize, set up in 1986 to honour writer and broadcaster Francis MacManus, recognises and rewards the best new Irish fiction writing for radio. The top prize is €3000. Ten stories will be shortlisted and broadcast.

Free to enter, last year’s competition, which coincided with Ireland’s first lockdown, attracted record numbers of entries – over 4,000.

Judge for 2021, Lisa McInerney, says: “I’m delighted to join the judging panel for this competition, not least because it acknowledges the short story as oral as well as written tradition… What I love to find in a short story is a fresh twist in the telling, whether through a clever turn of phrase, or special clarity of character. And all the better if we can hear the heart beating in every sentence.”

Fellow judge, Lucy Caldwell says: “When you’re writing your story for the RTÉ Short Story Competition, you are writing for the listener, even more than for the reader. I still think it’s a kind of magic, that a stranger’s voice can travel over that mysterious thing called airwaves, and reach us, enter us, disarm or distract or maybe even change us. These are your superpowers. Use them wisely – use them well. I can’t wait to hear your stories.”

Declan Hughes adds: “The Irish short story is in rude health, with a vigorous infrastructure of literary journals and magazines, awards and independent publishers providing opportunities for writers at every level to place new work, produce collections and win prizes… I’m very much looking forward to reading the submissions for this award, which has played an important role in the development of Irish short fiction for over 30 years.”

A shortlist of ten stories will be announced in September, and the top prizewinners will be announced on an Arena special programme later in the autumn.

The overall winner will receive €3,000, while €2,000 and €1,000 will be awarded to the second and third place prize winners respectively. A further seven runners-up will receive €250 each, and all 10 shortlisted stories will be published on rte.ie/culture and broadcast in a season of new writing on RTÉ Radio 1 in the autumn.

Terms and Conditions

  1. To be eligible to enter this competition, you must be over 18 (on or before the competition closing date), and be resident on the island of Ireland, or, if living abroad, hold an Irish passport. Proof of nationality and/or residency may be requested of shortlisted writers.
  1. Only one entry per person is permitted. It is the responsibility of the author to make sure that there is not more than one of his/her stories submitted in total. If more than one story is submitted, only the first story received will be considered.
  2. Entries, in Irish or English, must (i) be original, fictional and entirely the author’s own work; (ii) not infringe the copyright or any other rights of any third party; (iii) not be defamatory of any person or corporate body, (iv) not have been submitted for another competition or have been previously been broadcast or published, including online, and (v) be suitable for broadcast to a general audience by RTE (so excessive use of bad language, for example, should be avoided).
  3. Your story’s wordcount must be between 1,800 and 2,000 words, excluding the title. If entering by post, please put the wordcount under the title.
  4. Entries should be written in the knowledge that each of the shortlisted stories will be recorded and broadcast exactly as submitted beyond obvious typographical errors, without any opportunity for further revision from the entrant.
  5. You can enter the competition by two means only: by post or at the online Submittable form available at rte.ie/writing. Neither email entries nor hand delivered entries will be accepted.

Postal entries must be accompanied by an entry form which you can download at rte.ie/writing. Alternatively, email fmacmanusstories@rte.ie, or leave a message at (01) 208 3277 with your name, phone number and postal address and request to be sent a printed entry form.

Please provide your name, email address, telephone number and postal address on the entry form if entering by post, or on the online form as indicated.

The competition is judged anonymously, so you must ensure that your name and contact details do not appear anywhere on your story.

RTÉ will only ever use personal details for the purposes of the competition.

  1. Postal entries should be typed, double-spaced on one side only of A4 paper, with pages numbered, and each page ending on a full stop, and sent to:

The RTÉ Short Story Competition (in honour of Francis MacManus)

Radio Centre,



Dublin 4.

You should retain a copy of your entry as RTÉ cannot return scripts.

For formatting for online entries, see the online form.

  1. The closing date is Friday 7 May 2021. Postal entries received by us up to and including that date will be accepted. The deadline for online entries is midnight Irish time on Friday 7 May. This is a strict deadline; no exceptions will be made.
  2. RTÉ will not acknowledge receipt of postal entries and does not accept any responsibility for late, lost or damaged entries. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt. Entries successfully submitted online will receive an automated acknowledgement to the email address provided.
  3. The judges’ decision is final and RTÉ will not enter into correspondence concerning any entry.
  4. By submitting an entry for the competition, the author hereby acknowledges and agrees that the winning entries and any other shortlisted entry may be read out and reproduced and broadcast (in whole or in part) on RTÉ’s radio services and via the RTÉ website and online services (including RTÉ Radio Player) as well as featured in an RTÉ podcast available for download from RTÉ and other third party platforms.

If an entry makes the top 10 shortlist, then the author will be asked to sign a contract before broadcast.

  1. The author also acknowledges that the winning entries may also be used by RTÉ for publicity purposes around the competition and published in full or as an extract in print or online (including without limitation RTÉ Guide, RTÉ website and other third party platforms). Entry to the competition constitutes acceptance of these terms.
  2. By submitting a story, the entrant agrees that in the event of being shortlisted or winning the competition, s/he will consent to RTE identifying him/her as the author for publicity purposes to promote the competition.
  3. Employees of RTÉ are not eligible to enter the competition.
  4. The winners of the top three winning stories will receive prizes of €3000, €2000 and €1000 respectively. These will be broadcast in the autumn on RTÉ Radio 1, along with seven other shortlisted stories, whose writers will each receive a runner-up prize of €250.
  5. The entrant acknowledges and agrees that to the extent permitted by law, RTE will not be liable for any loss or damage (whether such damage or losses were foreseen, foreseeable, known or otherwise) including financial and/or reputation and/or disappointment, suffered by an entrant for entering the competition or as a result of their story being a winning entry.

See here to submit your story.

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