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Anne Enright: Call Yourself George, 21 September 2017

... come in around the halfway mark. The Stinging Fly, founded in 1998 by Declan Meade and Aoife Kavanagh, moved quickly to parity and women writers were in a majority in 2016. The editor of the Dublin Review, Brendan Barrington, an advocate of ‘that under-recognised creature, the Irish non-fiction writer’ remains dissatisfied with the journal’s gender ...


Paul Muldoon: Hiberno-English Shenanigans, 1 July 1999

... the New Jersey Turnpike is too busy altogether. This use of altogether, I’m reminded by Terence Patrick Dolan in A Dictionary of Hiberno-English, means ‘wholly, completely’ and may be compared to the Irish phrase ar fad, particularly in its positioning at the end of a sentence.* There’s a world of difference between the phrase ‘you’re altogether ...

In a Dry Place

Nicolas Tredell, 11 October 1990

On the Look-Out: A Partial Autobiography 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 85635 758 8
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In Two Minds: Guesses at Other Writers 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 296 pp., £18.95, September 1990, 0 85635 877 0
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... David Wright, ‘a literary instrument of precision’, and a long-time friend and supporter; Patrick Kavanagh, who was to be approached ‘with a large whisky in one’s outstretched hand’; George Barker, first seen ‘wearing a check suit and cap, all very new, as if in the course of an attempt to prove that he was not a poet but a ...

In the Gasworks

David Wheatley, 18 May 2000

To Ireland, I 
by Paul Muldoon.
Oxford, 150 pp., £19.99, March 2000, 0 19 818475 1
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by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 64 pp., £7.99, February 1999, 0 571 19762 0
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The Birds 
translated by Paul Muldoon, by Richard Martin.
Gallery Press, 80 pp., £13.95, July 1999, 1 85235 245 0
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Reading Paul Muldoon 
by Clair Wills.
Bloodaxe, 222 pp., £10.95, October 1998, 1 85224 348 1
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... kept her own style lucidly straight-forward and informative, though not without the odd blunder: Patrick Kavanagh may have been the ‘leading poet of the Irish Republic after Yeats’, but the honour loses some of its lustre when we remember that Ireland did not become a republic until 1949, ten years after Yeats’s death. Yeats, incidentally, gets ...


Rosemary Hill: Rosamund Lehmann’s Disappointments, 8 August 2002

Rosamond Lehmann 
by Selina Hastings.
Chatto, 476 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 7011 6542 1
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... daughter, Sally, died suddenly of polio, in Java, where she had been living with her husband, Patrick Kavanagh. Just as Lehmann had at first faced the loss of Day-Lewis with disbelief, so she refused to accept Sally’s death, taking refuge this time in spiritualism. She became convinced that she was regularly in contact with her daughter. Her friend ...

Hillside Men

Roy Foster: Ernie O’Malley, 16 July 1998

Ernie O’Malley: IRA Intellectual 
by Richard English.
Oxford, 284 pp., £25, March 1998, 0 01 982059 3
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... It attracted an eclectic range of contributors: Elizabeth Bowen, John Hewitt, Louis MacNeice, Patrick Kavanagh, Hubert Butler, Flann O’Brien, Liam O’Flaherty and others. ‘Cannot we all meet, throwing in what we have?’ Bowen wrote in her essay ‘The Big House’, published in the Bell’s first issue. The magazine accordingly stood for ...

You’ve listened long enough

Colin Burrow: The Heaneid, 21 April 2016

Aeneid: Book VI 
translated by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 53 pp., £14.99, March 2016, 978 0 571 32731 7
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... Seamus Heaney so skilfully used in both his poems and his prose, he relates (in an essay on Patrick Kavanagh from 1985) that one of his aunts ‘planted a chestnut in a jam jar’ in the year of his birth. In due course the seedling was planted out and grew to a fine height. Heaney says that ‘over the years I came to identify my own life with the ...

The Excursions

Andrew O’Hagan, 16 June 2011

... changed, changed utterly.’ Later, as the fields rolled by, I asked him if he had known Patrick Kavanagh: ‘I only spent one afternoon with him,’ he said, ‘and I felt lucky to get out alive. I remember I asked him if he liked Thomas Hardy’s poems and of course he took that to be a kind of insult, as if I was asking a country poet if he ...

Peeping Tam

Karl Miller, 6 August 1981

... of Burns. In this respect and others, Burns is like a peasant poet of modern times, the Irishman Patrick Kavanagh, who spent many hard and lonely years as a farmer, and of whom Seamus Heaney, another Irish poet with close ties to the world of the countryside, has written: ‘he wrested his idiom bare-handed out of a literary nowhere.’ ‘I am ...

Pseud’s Corner

John Sutherland, 17 July 1980

by Dan Kavanagh.
Cape, 181 pp., £4.95, July 1980, 0 224 01822 1
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Moscow Gold 
by John Salisbury.
Futura, 320 pp., £1.10, March 1980, 0 7088 1702 5
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The Middle Ground 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 297 77808 0
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The Boy Who Followed Ripley 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 292 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 434 33520 7
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... there may be the good reason that the author has something important to lose if he’s recognised. Patrick Mann’s novels (Steal Big, Dog Day Afternoon) carry the front-cover information that ‘Patrick Mann is the pseudonym of a former US Army Intelligence agent who has for many years been a crime reporter for a nationwide ...

At St Peter’s

Colm Tóibín: The Dangers of a Priestly Education, 1 December 2005

The Ferns Report 
by Francis Murphy, Helen Buckley and Laraine Joyce.
Government Publications, 271 pp., €6, October 2005, 0 7557 7299 7
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... in Dublin and I see him sometimes on the street. We always stop and talk. He loves the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh and we talk about that. He remembers some of my family. And he misses it, he says, the diocese and the priests. He looks sad as he moves slowly back towards his lodgings. It would be easy to think as I watch him shuffle away from me that ...

We did and we didn’t

Seamus Perry: Are yez civilised?, 6 May 2021

On Seamus Heaney 
by R.F. Foster.
Princeton, 228 pp., £14.99, September 2020, 978 0 691 17437 2
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... own terms, setting them within an Irish imaginative space made habitable largely by the example of Patrick Kavanagh, and finding a thick, costive, consonantal music for the task (‘the squelch and slap/Of soggy peat’). He was especially struck by a book called The New Poetic (1964) by the New Zealand poet C.K. Stead that portrayed an Eliot very ...

Snail Slow

Colm Tóibín: Letters to John McGahern, 27 January 2022

The Letters of John McGahern 
edited by Frank Shovlin.
Faber, 851 pp., £30, September 2021, 978 0 571 32666 2
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... priest of Irish poetry: ‘a sentimentalist gone sour’.Among McGahern’s circle was the painter Patrick Swift, who in 1960 was in London, co-editing a magazine called X. The following year Swift published an extract from McGahern’s unpublished first novel. It was spotted by Charles Monteith at Faber, who went on to oversee the publication of many of ...


John Kerrigan, 18 July 1996

The ‘O’o’a’a’ Bird 
by Justin Quinn.
Carcanet, 69 pp., £7.95, March 1995, 1 85754 125 1
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Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time 
by Eavan Boland.
Carcanet, 254 pp., £18.95, April 1995, 1 85754 074 3
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Collected Poems 
by Eavan Boland.
Carcanet, 217 pp., £9.95, November 1995, 1 85754 220 7
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Captain Lavender 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Gallery Press, 83 pp., £11.95, November 1994, 9781852351427
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... early creativity to specific anxieties about locale. When she saw the bench in Dublin where Patrick Kavanagh used to sit, and read his sonnet about the spot, she was thrilled by ‘the idea of place as something language could claim even if ownership had been denied’. ‘Because I was starting to locate myself in language,’ she recalls, ‘I ...
... that I would present myself in the hospital the following Sunday afternoon. The Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh has a poem called ‘The Hospital’, which begins: ‘A year ago I fell in love with the functional ward/Of a chest hospital.’ This did not happen to me, but it was surprising how quickly the routines of the hospital became comforting and ...

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