August 13-16, 2020

August 13-16, 2020

print this page Share This Page

2019 Poetry Contests

Milwaukee Irish Fest offers two poetry prizes annually; each award is $100. Winners will be announced at Irish Fest during the poetry events on Sunday afternoon, August 18, in the Hedge School in the Cultural Village on the south end of the grounds. Only the winners will be notified of the contests’ outcomes, during the first week of August; the winners’ names will be posted online by September.

The poetry awards will be given to the entries best reflecting Irish or Irish-American poetry traditions. Although the poems do not necessarily need to have direct Irish or Irish-American themes, the winning entries should have a culture/literary relation to either Ireland, Irish-America, or to Irish poetry.

  • The Donn Goodwin Prize is named after a Wisconsin poet, linguist, and educator who was active in supporting poetry events at Irish Fest. This contest is open to all.
  • The Joseph Gahagan Prize is awarded in the memory of the man who served as poetry consultant to the Fest for many years. This contest is limited to current residents of Wisconsin, only.

Rules for Submitting Entries

Please read all instructions before submitting your form. Submissions that do not follow these instructions will be omitted from consideration.

  • Each contestant may submit no more than one poem. However, Wisconsin residents may submit one poem for each contest.
  • Each entry should be the poet's original work and should not have appeared previously in publication.
  • Entries will be accepted only between June 1 and August 1, 2019. They must be received by August 1, 2019 to be considered.
  • All entries must be typed and mailed. No handwritten, faxed or e-mailed subbmissions.
  • All entries should be mailed to:
         Milwaukee Irish Fest
         1532 Wauwatosa Ave
         Wauwatosa, WI 53213
  • Each entry should have a cover sheet stapled to the entry that contains
    • The poet's name, address, telephone number and e-mail address
    • The poem's title and a label indicating which contest the poet is entering.
    • The poet's name or other identifying information should appear only on the cover sheet.

Due to the large number of submissions, entries will not be acknowledged nor returned. Contestants are urged to write the mailing address clearly and to use a return address on the envelope.

On The Grounds Limerick Contest 

Information on the Limerick Contest is located in the Information Cottage on the South end of the grounds in the Cultural Village. Entries will be available to fill out and drop off. Winner will be called following the festival.

2018 Poetry Contest Winners

The Donn Goodwin Prize of $100

Awarded to Bart Cournane

My Singing Bird
In the field west of his mountain lair stood a quiet sally hold
And there he'd cut strong cipins smoth and build a sturdy fold
He needed music in his life to stir his lonesome soul
He would own the sweetest singing bird
And his heart might, again, be whole

He hung the cage outside the door
That the lark might think 'twas free
And from that perch the bird looked out
O'er river, peaks and sea
He was pleased with his handiwork
And the summer days stretched on
His life seemed somehow fuller now
His heart somehow less wan

Lying against a ditch one day resting bog-weary limb
He waited for his singing bird to pour forth a trilling hymn
But the sally cage was silent now
No song nor flitting wing
He had stripped her of her liberty
And had expected her to sing

Just then her little mate cried out from a withered elder tree
"Come out, come out; we'll fly away and you'll sing again with me"
Life's twists and turns teach many things
On this we all agree
Your beauty love, my singing bird,
Is now you ever will be free


The Joseph Gahagan Prize of $100

Awarded to Kathleen Hayes Phillips

At the Pyle Art Show

It was the grass that slowed me down...grass
so green it seemed unreal, the verdant field squared off
into a checkerboard dotted with toy sheep
and whitewashed cottages, the artist's remembering
of a place and time held in an ornate frame,

a difficult tast at best, for memories are known to be
will-o-the-whisps, hiding behind the flower, the three,
the smile...hard to catch, and when captured,
impossible to own...slipping away
only to reappear when you least expect them,

She was at the Healy Pass, the passage through
the rugged Caha Mountains. She stood at the top
where you are able to see in the distance the waters
of the Kenmare River. And Bantry Bay. 

What you cannot see is what she did not paint:
the road you must travel to reach this spot, the way up
turning in twisting spirals like a snake intent
on biting its tail...which is why I can picture

my husband's tight face, his hands clutching the wheel,
both of us breathless, afraid to look too far ahead, 
fearing what the next turn might bring, ignoring
the scenery, the vistas were told not to miss.

I am old now. And he is gone. Standing in the stillness,
I let myself return to the Healy Pass, seeing
as if for the first time, what was once right in front of me. 

It seems the mist is blowing away; yellow gorse
and purple heather aside the road, hint at more gentle
return to the valley, the turns and breathing, easier.

And I can see us together, finally enjoying the view.


  • Aer Lingus Milwaukee Irish Fest Sponsor
  • Arena Americas at Milwaukee Irish Fest
  • Catholic Financial Life
  • CiderBoys Milwaukee Irish Fest Sponsor
  • Epic Creative Milwaukee Irish Fest Sponsor
  • Five Farms Irish Cream
  • Habush Habush Rottier
  • Jameson
  • Fill Your Heart with Ireland - Milwaukee Irish Fest Sponsor
  • Lakefront Brewery
  • Miller Lite
  • Northwoods Web Solutions
  • Potowatomi
  • Sprecher



  • Center: 1532 N. Wauwatosa Ave, Milwaukee
  • Festival Grounds: Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee
© 2018 Milwaukee Irish Festival. All rights reserved.
This site is powered by the Northwoods Titan Content Management System