NOTHING if not a major source of encouragement for the writers of the future, this year's festival proved a stepping stone for some of Kerry's most talented young scribes.
Now, between the pages of the 2009 Winners Anthology the work of these promising artists is collected — part of the dizzying array of talent recognised by the judges from submissions received from home and abroad. All prizes in the youth categories were sponsored by Kerry County Council.
Ballybunion's Gráinne Heaphy was the first young Kerry writer feted on awards night, for her remarkable ability to create suspense and heighten tension at only the tender age of nine.
Gráinne's narrator found herself the unwitting star of her own scary movie in My Halloween Horror; second prize in the Creative Writing Nine and Under category.
Young Tralee poet, John Cullen, was awarded first prize in the Creative Writing 12 and under category for his impressive way with iambic pentameter in Bully
Jack O'Connor from Fenit received second prize in the category for his poem The Navigator — in which the poet rolls back the centuries to celebrate the deeds of his home and school's patron saint.
St Michael's College Listowel student Kevin Cremin took first prize in the Creative Writing 14 and under for A Shout Shook the Silence. Kevin's imagination put him right in the head of an Iraqi soldier on the brink of the American invasion in a thrilling and unusual take on the first days of the war.
Lest the Irish language be overlooked in a county rich in its nuances, there was Duais Foras na Gaeilge won by West Kerry poet Áine Uí Fhoghlú for the affecting ' Dán Grá na hEatharlaí'.