December 8, 2022 | Press Release

‘My Fourth Time, We Drowned’ by Sally Hayden named as the An Post Irish Book of the Year 2022

My Fourth Time, We Drowned’ by Sally Hayden has been announced as the ‘An Post Irish Book of the Year 2022’.

The book was among six titles competing for the accolade, all of which were category winners at the 2022 An Post Irish Book Awards. Sally Hayden’s book was unveiled as the winning title during a one-hour special television show aired on RTÉ One this evening, hosted by Oliver Callan. Her book won the ‘Odger’s Berndtson Non-Fiction Book of the Year’ at the recent An Post Irish Book Awards.

‘My Fourth Time, We Drowned”,  the first book written by Hayden, was triggered by a Facebook message the writer received asking for help from an Eritrean refugee held in a Libyan detention centre. The title is a staggering account of the migrant crisis across North Africa, including dozens of first-hand narratives from people currently living in Libyan detention centres, revealing that they were all incarcerated as a direct result of European policy. This book is about people who have made unimaginable choices, risking everything to survive in a system that wants them to be silent.

The overall ‘An Post Irish Book of the Year 2022’ winner was decided by a distinguished panel of judges, including a bookstore chain chief executive, two literary editors, a bestselling novelist and the CEO of Children’s Books Ireland.


The judging panel consisted of:


Maria Dickenson – General Manager of Dubray, Board Member of the An Post Irish Book Awards and Council Member of the Bookseller’s Association

Madeleine Keane – Literary editor of the Sunday Independent, lecturer at University College Dublin and Board Member of Children’s Books Ireland

Ronan Hession – Author of An Post Irish Book Awards shortlisted books Leonard and Hungry Paul and Panenka, fiction reviewer with The Irish Times and musician known as Mumblin’ Deaf Ro

Laura Hackett – Deputy Literary Editor of The Sunday Times

Elaina Ryan – CEO of Children’s Books Ireland and Co-Artistic Director of Tower and Tales Children’s Books Festival in Co. Wexford


Maria Dickenson, Chair of the Judging Panel, said:

My Fourth Time, We Drowned is a moving, compelling and vitally important book. Sally Hayden is an outstanding Irish journalist who has taken her place on the global stage with her incisive journalism, and she has written a book that is as ground-breaking as it is humane. In it, she gives a powerful voice to vulnerable refugees, and holds the highest offices accountable for their plight. The judging panel was unanimous in its praise for My Fourth Time, We Drowned, and is very proud to recognise it as the An Post Irish Book of the Year”.


Currently the Africa Correspondent for the Irish Times, Sally Hayden is an award-winning journalist and photographer who is currently focused on migration, conflict and humanitarian crisis, all of which are reflected in this winning book. Hayden has also worked with VICE News, CNN International, BBC and the Guardian. She has also had stories and photojournalism republished on six continents by outlets including National Geographic, Forbes and the Economist.

Sally Hayden has a law degree from University College Dublin and a Master’s in International Politics from Trinity College, Dublin, where her thesis was centred on post-conflict societies and theories of civil war resolution. Throughout her years working as a journalist, and now an author, she has earned an extensive list of awards and honours, including Forbes ’30 Under 30’ in 2019, the ‘Journalism Excellence’ award at the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards 2019, and the ‘Orwell Prize for Political Writing’ in 2022.


The six nominated titles for the ‘An Post Irish Book of the Year 2022’ were:

Time and TideCharlie Bird, with Ray Burke

Kellie Kellie Harrington, with Roddy Doyle

My Fourth Time, We Drowned Sally Hayden

Trespasses Louise Kennedy

Again, Rachel – Marian Keyes

Girls Who Slay MonstersEllen Ryan, illustrated by Shona Shirley Macdonald


In case you missed it, you can now watch the ‘An Post Book of the Year’ TV programme on the RTÉ player



David McRedmond, CEO of An Post, said:

Sally Hayden’s book can take its place as one of the great non-fiction books for many years. She never strays from her journalistic discipline but underpins the story of migration with profound empathy"


Previous winners of this esteemed ‘Irish Book of the Year’ award are:

We Don’t Know Ourselves – Fintan O’Toole

A Ghost in the Throat – Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Overcoming – the late Vicky Phelan

Solar Bones – Mike McCormack

Atlas of the Irish Revolution – John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil, Mike Murphy and Dr. John Borgonovo

Asking for it – Louise O’Neill

Academy Street – Mary Costello

Staring at Lakes – Michael Harding

The Spinning Heart – Donal Ryan

Solace – Belinda McKeon




Breda Brown

Key Events Manager

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