Shaun Traynor



THE HARDENING GROUND (Martin Brian and O’Keeffe)

“In this his first collection Shaun Traynor takes his place amongst his peers from the he North of Ireland and the South. His dramatic Meditations on the Suspension of Stormont deserves its place in the canon.

(Desmond O’Grady, Hibernia Review of Books)

“The last poem in the book, the magnificent Mediations on the Suspension of Stormont, changed my thinking about Ireland.”

(Mary Hardy, Irish Post)

“Strongest are the more formal pieces like The Child and the Thrush where the influence of Patrick Kavanagh is for once happy.”

(Edna Longley, The Irish Times)

“His poetry is open, direct, unedged, his feelings immediately and clearly rendered, his dictions and rhythms simple to a point of an attractive naiveté.”

(Terry Eagleton, The Tablet)

“Love is this young man’s concern, but he is also aware of the harsher necessities as in A Labourer’s Lament.

(John Montague, The Times Literary Supplement)


There are several new notes in this second book which bode well for Shaun Traynor’s future work. All the signs of maturity are here. The rhythms are stronger, the images have a more telling precision, his romanticism is more controlled.

(Shirley Toulson, The Ulster Tatler)

Shaun Traynor’s new book is a delight, the writing is fresh and exact, he is in touch with the old spring, the old jauntiness of language, its resilience, its lasting singing power. His poetry is an act of faith, his rhythms a gift of grace. Traynor takes chances, there is a sense of risk in his poetry, a sense that this business of writing poetry actually matters.

(Robert Welch, Literary Review)

On a first reading I enjoyed every poem – especially Soyland, Affirmation, Journey to Work, The Rooks Song, Long Walks toward Pubs, The Magician, The Joke, Failing, Wedding Anniversary (a marvellous little poem!) Nocturne, Isle of Dogs, Maureen’s Cat, In Ireland Once …

(From a letter from Ted Hughes 19 Sept 1980)


HUGO O’HUGE, THE CHILDREN’S GIANT. (Methuen and Poolbeg Press)

Portrush man, Shaun Traynor has produced a first book of real character.

(Martin Waddell, Irish news)

There are many pleasing inventions in this story of a giant who had been left behind including the wind that loves to gossip, the bubble that stole a house and a time when there were two suns shining in the sky and no bedtime.

(Gordon Snell, The Irish Times.)

A touch of magic at bedtime is provided by Hugo O’ Huge, the Childen’s Giant who fell asleep when all, the other giants were leaping up into heaven. Discovered centuries later, he awakes to delight children with his stories of long ago.

(Liz Cregan, Morning Star)

Children befriend a giant and he takes them on a journey to meet Ursula, the Queen of Wishes. The book concludes with Hugo living on in the children’s memories. Recommended.

(The Teacher)

THE GIANTS’ OLYMPICS (Methuen and Poolbeg Press)

... is instantly successful, a very funny book by an accomplished storyteller.

(Mike Maran, The Guardian)


This is a memorable book which all six reviewers (7–11 yrs) loved.

(Lesley Reece, Books Ireland)

Shaun Traynor’s writing for children exudes love and tenderness towards children and their earth. His modern fairytales with their contemporary settings capture children’s imagination from the beginning.

(Irish Children’s Book Trust Guide to Children’s Books.)


Traynor’s book tells the story of Kate’s time travels into Irish history. Kate digs a hole in her back garden and discovers some stone steps leading to the Irish famine of 1845, the Siege of Derry in 1688 and the Battle of the Boyne river in 1690. In one poignant scene Kate tells Protestant King Billy that the Protestants are on one bank of the river Boyne and the Catholics on the other, but when they are all dead “the blood that would flow in the river would be Catholic blood and Protestant blood but neither river nor sea would be able to tell the difference.

(Linda Blackburne, The Times Educational Supplement.)

A group of children gathered in the Linenhall Library yesterday to see the final outcome of their summer search for The Lost City of Belfast. The children from throughout the city had taken part in a Playboard educational, anti-sectarian project examining (from their points of view) the history that has shaped their communities. Working with Shaun Traynor’s novel about an eight year girl who travels back in time to witness such events as the Battle of the Boyne, the Famine and Ireland’s emigration, the thirty young people scripted and acted out a play on the theme. Protestant children played historical Catholic figures and vice versa. James McCann (9) from Sandy Row who has since passed an audition for the Young Lyric Players, played a Catholic mother during the famine. “The part I liked best was the Siege of Londonderry when it showed them eating rats.” He said.

(Mary McCollum, Irish News)


As Editor:


Best selling anthology of Poetry for Children in Ireland 1999/2000

Guardian Children’s Book of the Week 1999

The traditions of poetry are so deeply founded in Ireland that it is easy to assume it is a natural birthright. And, indeed, there is a wealth of wonderful poetry written for children by Shaun Traynor in this anthology. The task he set himself was to find the poems in the Irish literary canon that could be thought of as suitable for children or - even better - written expressly for them. His search led him to look differently at the poetry of WB Yeats, Patrick Kavanagh and Seamus Heaney. Both familiar and surprising, this is a very attractive anthology with its roots firmly in Ireland but its appeal stretching far beyond.

Julia Eccleshare, Guardian, 15 June 1999

Irish Post Book of the Week 1999


Irish Post:

Readers young and old will be captivated by this charming book.

Irish World:

Well put together in three sections, there are poems from ancient times, poems from the great poets of the past, poems written in the present day. This book does a real educational service to children and teachers alike. An enjoyable and very worthwhile volume.

Times Educational Supplement:

Irish Ayes!

Geraldine Brennan

This delightful anthology was put together by Shaun Traynor with the assistance of nine and ten year old pupils he was teaching. For the first time the works of Irish poets from the 7th century to the present day and which are accessible to children (and beyond primary age) have been anthologised. Traynor has found relatively unknown works from the traditional giants of Irish poetry such as Yeats and it is tempting to put together a football series from recent entries: see Sean O’Brien’s Cantona, Seamus Heaney’s Markings and Brendan Kennelly’s The Big ‘Un.

Ireland 20 Rest of the World Nil!

Sunday Independent:

An intelligent selection by poet and children’s novelist, Shaun Traynor.

North Belfast News:

Shaun Traynor has done us a considerable educational service and I congratulate him on it!

(Tom Morgan)

Books Ireland

An excellent choice of poetry, pleasantly presented and with useful notes on all the poets.

About the Editor

(Press Release 1999)

Shaun Traynor is from Northern Ireland. He is a poet, critic, children’s novelist, storyteller and teacher. He has published two major collections of poetry for adults and several novels for children. He lives and works in London. Teaching experience includes primary, middle and secondary schools in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the South and West of England and the Isle of Wight; in London, Lambeth, Camden, Hammersmith & Fulham and Brent. As a children’s author, Shaun has visited hundreds of schools and colleges all over England and Ireland. He was Writer in Residence with the Wiltshire Libraries and Museum Service and Poet in Residence at Derbyshire Sixth Form College. He is currently working on Kate in England, a sequel to his highly successful The Lost City of Belfast.

Sequel commissioned by Poolbeg Press.


Arts Council England Award 2008



Van Gogh in Brixton A new collection of poetry.

Sit on the Mat A new collection of poems for children.

Kate in England A new novel for children, a sequel to The Lost City of Belfast.

Brother Troll and the Supply Teacher A new and very frightening story for children.

Animal Lover An allegorical tale for children and adults.

The Auction (Young/Adult Version) A new Novel.

The Auction (Junior Version) A new novel for children.