Patrick Kavanagh

(1904-1967)

'And pray for him
Who walked apart
On the hills
Loving life's miracles'

Patrick Kavanagh is buried in St Mary's churchyard, Inniskeen, County Monaghan, Ireland.

 

Patrick Kavanagh's Grave (Photo horslips 5)

 

Kavanagh, the son of a shoemaker, was born in Inniskeen in 1904 - the fourth of ten children. He left school at the age of 13 and followed his father into the family business. He then took up farming and for a number of years eked out a meagre living. His talent for poetry appeared early on and his work was published in a number of literary magazines. His first full collection Ploughman and Other Poems appeared in 1936.

His experience of farming coloured much of his work - capturing the hard realities of life on the land - particularly in poems such as Stony Grey Soil where he states: 'You clogged the feet of my boyhood'. He is probably best known forThe Great Hunger (1942) - which again dealt with subsistence farming in County Monaghan.

In 1939 he moved to Dublin where he launched his own journal called Kavanagh's Weekly. After WW2, when jobs were scarce, he took up work as a barman in Belfast - before returning to the capital 1949.

In 1954 he suffered from cancer and had a lung removed. Sitting by the Grand Canal in Dublin after his operation he seems to have rediscovered his poetic voice. He said of the moment: "As a poet I was born in or about 1955, the place of my birth being the banks of the Grand Canal."  There is now a statue of Kavanagh by the canal - to mark the spot.

Kavanagh's work is extremely popular in Ireland - and he is often ranked as the country's second most popular poet behind W.B.Yeats. His work was definitely an influence on Seamus Heaney. He also re-wrote the words to the traditional song On Raglan Road - which has been covered by many artists including Van Morrison and the Chieftains. His only novel Tarry Flynn (1948) - was also inspired by his early years as a farmer.

There is a visitor's centre at Inniskeen dedicated to his life and work.

'On Pembroke Road look out for my ghost,
Dishevelled with shoes untied,
Playing through the railings with little children
Whose children have long since died.'

Links:

Patrick Kavanagh Trust

 

 


 

 

 
 
 
 

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