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Poetry Contest Winners 


The Donn Goodwin Prize - 2023

Awarded to Seamus C.



There you are -
gentle, illuminated
under the corner of the beer tent.
Flanked by country men
of Kerry, Cork, and Wexford -
Holding court
as Paddy Reilly,
The Dubliners
or The Wolfe Tones
as my Mother and her sisters
carry the tunes
and the crowd,
along the front row.
For thirty years
I was the son of a celebrity
each Irish Fest weekend.
But, you were a butcher from Belfast
who may as well
have never left.
You were young,
personifying Irish America.
years after Ellis Island,
years after the Belfast Blitz,
years after making Milwaukee
your final home.
All those fests,
as I gallivanted the grounds
your friends pulling me aside
curious of your whereabouts,
I began to keep close to your side
to us heading down for an afternoon
to the moments receding
and to finally now -
where I compose a poem
of your presence
and accept condolences
under the halo
of the beer tent.



The Donn Goodwin Prize - 2022

Awarded to Andrea P.


When Asked Why Do I Keep Wanting to Return to Ireland

I could begin with the silky pour

of the Guinness beside a peat fire in

a centuries-old pub with dark timbers;

I could say how the word Connemara

conjures my heart into a nest, 

how wind and sky and breaking surf off the coast

of Mullaghmore make me lean toward wild joy

alongside bogs and stones, and the remembrance

of the last phone call with my mother before she died--

across the wild Atlantic, our crackling connection

from Kylemore Abbey where I stood by the shore 

of the tiny lough. . . some days it is all 

I know to remember, Ireland allowing me

to deepen and stand so near the gate

to the Otherworld, its misty latch shining. 




2021 Poetry Contest Winner


The Donn Goodwin Prize

Awarded to Phoebe M.

Barely Irish

We make the soda bread with the
Currants because Mom says
We’re Irish, like it’s more than
Bone-dry scones and spiked
Coffee in the middle of March. We
Slather on Kerrygold and the Celtic
Cross like we actually go to church,
But we’re not Catholic and we’re
Not Protestant, just dressed
In layers of basil-sage-shamrock
With plastic beads and kiss me
On either cheek, clinking pints
One day out of each year like
We even know our genealogy. I
Guess it’s not appearances, my
Mom’s got emerald eyes but mine
Are just mucky brown, maybe
German with some thin-lipped
English and a useless ten or
Twelve percent green-blooded
Blonde Irish that doesn’t show.
Like, we’re not really Irish, just
A flurry of alleles marked Atlantic
European, unmarked by lines
Of green and orange and white satin.
But Dad plays the Irish whistle,
Dawning of the Day, Wild Rover,
Some dozen jigs about roses,
We’ve got ghillies decaying on
The wall and Galway crystal
trophies piled on the dresser
Drawers—do you know how
Many medals you can get for
Bouncy hair, lip-sticked smiles,
A Trinity Knot-riddled dress?
Maybe it’s American-Irish,
Muddled traditions like, I only
Tried Colcannon last year,
Claddagh rings against spray
Tans and a couple Eire authors
Forgotten on our bookcase. Fake
Irish, like we traveled old sod
Some seven years ago, Dublin
Galway-Killarney like bloody
Tourists, a full Irish and live
Music at pubs with the photos
To prove it. We toured the castles,
Graveyards, family crest crap in
Gift shops, bought t-shirts with
Dancing sheep and clovers and
Everything real Irish would howl
At, I can wear one with thick wool
Sweaters and obnoxiously tell
Strangers that I can’t wait to go
Home to Sligo, and they might
Not know it but I’ll still never be
Irish. It’s here and there then,
Guinness shirts hanging in Dad’s
Closet, the pantry, butter, snack
Names and a few novels by
Sally Rooney, commercialized
Pieces of a culture and drinking
Songs stuck in the Toyota's CD
Player. I grew up chasing the
Rainbows’ ends, smelling
Whiskey, reading about the
Kildare Pooka like I wasn’t
Just barely Irish, like I even
Knew the difference between Gaelic and Celtic or that a
Sham isn’t a pillowcase. But
Then Saint Paddy’s rolls back
Around and there’s about fifty
Something beer-guzzling
Neighbors and relatives with
Camp elf ears and pinching fingers,
Sonorously butchering folk
Songs over corned beef and
Cabbage, so I choke down a cut
Of the bread and try to blend in:
I guess I’m Irish.


Ireland Bluffs

Aer Lingus Milwaukee Irish Fest Sponsor

Arena Americas at Milwaukee Irish Fest

Associated Bank Milwaukee Irish Fest Sponsor

Audio Biz

Catholic Financial Life

CiderBoys Milwaukee Irish Fest Sponsor

Epic Creative Milwaukee Irish Fest Sponsor

Five Farms Irish Cream

Habush Habush Rottier


Tourism Ireland - Milwaukee Irish Fest Sponsor

Lakefront Brewery

Miller Lite

Northwoods Web Solutions

Parkview-Senior Living Community Center

Vizzy Hard Seltzer

  • Artist
  • Paddy
  • Celtic Canine & Kid
  • Artist with Violin
  • Crowd
  • Irish Fest Fans
  • Young Irish Dancers
  • Young Kid and Dad
  • Wisconsin Irish
  • Young Kids Dancing

Milwaukee Irish Fest Logo

1532 N. Wauwatosa Ave
Milwaukee, WI
Festival Grounds
Henry Maier Festival Park
Milwaukee, WI


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