Novelist Eoin Colfer was announced as the third Laureate na nÓg on Thursday 8th May 2014, Ireland’s laureate for children’s literature, by Minister Fergus O’Dowd.
The title of Laureate na nÓg acknowledges Irish writers or illustrators with internationally recognised bodies of high quality children’s writing and/or illustration. The recipients will also have made particularly significant contributions to the field of children’s literature in Ireland, having had a considerably positive impact on readers as well as other writers and illustrators.
The inaugural Laureate na nÓg was author Siobhán Parkinson, while the second was author and picture-book maker Niamh Sharkey.
Speaking about his appointment as Laureate na nÓg, Eoin Colfer said: ‘I feel incredibly honoured and incredibly petrified to be taking on the Laureate mantle after Niamh and Siobhán. I feel I am representing my family and my county and indeed all book people in Ireland which is not something I mean to take lightly. I intend to spend my time spreading stories to every nook and cranny in the country. Nobody is safe. It doesn't matter where you hide – I will find you and tell you a story.’
Eoin Colfer was born in Wexford in 1965. Having qualified as a primary school teacher, he worked in Wexford before travelling and working in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Italy. His first book, Benny and Omar, was published in 1998, based on his experiences in Tunisia; it has since been translated into many languages. A sequel followed in 1999. He attained worldwide recognition in 2001, when the first Artemis Fowl book was published and became a New York Times Best Seller, as did some sequels. Among his other popular works are Half Moon Investigations, The Wish List, The Supernaturalist, and a series of Eoin Colfer's Legends. In January 2008, Colfer published a book titled Airman, another best-seller. His latest novel, Warp The Reluctant Assassin has been nominated for the CBI Book of the Year 2014. To date more than half of his books have reached the New York Times list at least once. Eoin Colfer currently lives in Wexford, Ireland with his wife, Jackie, and two children, Séan and Finn.
Laureate na nÓg is an initiative of the Arts Council with the support of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Children’s Books Ireland, Poetry Ireland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The honour was established to engage young people with high quality children’s literature and to underline the importance of children’s literature in our cultural and imaginative lives.
For the first time this year, the Laureate na nÓg team will be inviting invitations during the month of June from arts organisations and groups to suggest projects for the new Laureate. Further details of the submission process will be available on the Laureate website, www.childrenslaureate.ie
Sheila Pratschke, Chair of the Arts Council, said: ‘To date, Laureate na nÓg has been a tremendous success, and the stellar work of Eoin Colfer's predecessors, Siobhán Parkinson and Niamh Sharkey, has broadened and deepened the imaginative worlds of young people across the country. The Arts Council is delighted to award this honour – the highest to be awarded to a children's writer or illustrator in Ireland – to an artist of such high achievement and with such generosity of spirit. We have no doubt that the Eoin Colfer's term will be exciting and inspired, and we very much look forward to the two years ahead.’