The €1,000 prize is awarded for a collection of poems by an Irish author or long-term resident of Ireland who has not been previously published in collected form.
It was presented to Mr FitzGerald last night by President Michael D Higgins at the Patrick Kavanagh Weekend in Inniskeen, Co Monaghan.
Previous winners of the award include Paul Durcan, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Thomas McCarthy, Peter Sirr, Sinead Morrissey and William Wall.
Mr FitzGerald, aged 52, who lives in Lissarda, Co Cork, has been writing poetry for the past four years. He came second in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award last year. He now hopes his prize-winning collection will be picked up by a publisher.
Writing poetry “was always at the back of my head,” says Mr FitzGerald, an arts graduate of UCC and postgraduate of UCD and the University of Wales. “But coming out of college, one is pitched into the working world. There are always projects and commitments and demands on one’s time. Four years ago, I had a sense of having reached the mountain top. Writing just started without any warning or expectations.”
Shortlisted for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award 2015, he is a jury member for ‘A Poem for Ireland’ campaign launched yesterday on RTÉ’s John Murray Show.
He says that his winning collection is influenced by landscape, place and travel. “I’m lucky with my job, going over and back to China, Australia and the US. I’m involved in fundraising for the library and have been to the US on a number of occasions to fundraise for The Great Book of Ireland,” he said.