Despite how some people might view the work of a custodian, this janitor has just been given one of Ireland’s most prestigious awards by the school that she cleans.
Caitriona Lally was named the recipient of the 2018 Rooney Prize for Literature in recognition of “Eggshells”, her first and only novel.
The award can be given to an Irish writer under the age of 40 who shows “exceptional promise” in their body of work.
According to Trinity College, the school that distributes the award, Lally’s book is “a work of impressive imaginative reach” that is “witty, subtle and occasionally endearingly unpredictable” that also “reveals an artistic vision which is distinctive in contemporary Irish writing.”
The news of Lally’s award could not have come at a better time, either – she told Trinity College that she had not been in a great mental state when the prize committee gave her the call. Every morning, she would wake up at 4:45AM so she could get to the school in time for work. After cleaning for three and a half hours, she would immediately rush home to take care of her 14-month-old daughter.
“It was a Monday, I’d been having a rough day, up early for my cleaning job, tearing home to mind the baby, baby wouldn’t nap and was making her feelings known — so hearing [someone] say down the phone: ‘You’ve won the Rooney’ — it was surreal,” says Lalley. “It felt completely at odds with the day I was having.”
Lalley was so stunned to hear the news, she had to ask for elaboration. On top of how she had been having a bad day, she had also hit a rough spot with her literary career.
“I’d virtually given up on ever finishing my second novel, it all seemed so pointless,” says Lalley. “Finding out I’d won the prize gave me a confidence I’d lacked the past couple of years, and sent me back to the desk to really knuckle down and finish my second novel.”
The triumphant author says that she plans on using the $11,500 prize money to make some repairs around the house and get her daughter into day care.
“The feeling that your work has been acknowledged is unbeatable,” says Lalley. “And the cash isn’t unwelcome either.”
Make Sure Your Friends Can Read The Good News By Sharing It To Social Media – Photo by Trinity College