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