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'The foremost female poet of her generation': Eavan Boland has died aged 75

Boland published her first book of poetry in 1962 and went on to become a writer-in-residence at Trinity College Dublin and UCD.

Updated Apr 27th 2020, 10:32 PM

WELL-KNOWN IRISH poet Eavan Boland has died.

She was 75.

President Michael D Higgins led the tributes to the poet this evening, describing her as “one of the most insightful inner sources of Irish life, not only in life as expressed but as sensed and experienced”.

“Over the years, through her poetry, critical work and teaching she displayed an extraordinary ability to invoke Irish landscapes, myth and everyday experience. She became one of the pre-eminent voices in Irish literature, noted for the high standard she sought and achieved,” he said.

“The revealing of a hidden Ireland, in terms of what was suffered, neglected, evaded, given insufficient credit, is a part of her achievement.”

Born in Dublin in 1944, Boland published her first collection of poems in 1962.

Her work was a staple on Irish Leaving Cert English curriculum for many years, and she had been working at Stanford University for the past 20 years.

She was formerly a writer-in-residence at Trinity College Dublin and UCD.

Dr Mary McAuliffe, an assistant professor in gender studies at UCD described Eavan Boland as a “great woman, a great writer, a great educator and an immense poetic voice”. 

Her position as one of the foremost feminist voices within Irish poetry has solidified through her over 10 volumes of poetry, her 1995 memoir and through her teaching.

In an interview with the website A Smartish Pace, Boland said: “I wanted to put the life I lived into the poem I wrote. And the life I lived was a woman’s life. And I couldn’t accept the possibility that the life of the woman would not, or could not, be named in the poetry of my own nation.”

President Higgins added: “She will be missed by all who have read her work and by students who have had the privilege of learning from her in any one of the academic institutions to which she made such a distinguished contribution, including Trinity College, University College Dublin and Stanford University.

To all of us who had the privilege of knowing her, her passing is a source of great loss and sadness.
To her husband Kevin, their daughters and the members of her extended family, her colleagues in poetry and her wide circle of friends, Sabina and I send our deepest condolence.

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan said: “Eavan had a stellar career and was undoubtedly the foremost female poet of her generation.  Eavan was such an inspiration in her work as a poet, as a reviewer for the Irish Times and as a professor at Stanford University all of which continued right up to her death. I would like to offer my condolences to her husband Kevin Casey and her daughters. 

Love will heal

What language fails to know.

Poetry Ireland said: “We are absolutely devastated to learn of the loss of Eavan Boland. This is a staggering loss to the Irish poetry community. Wishing peace & comfort to all who loved her, and whose lives have been changed by her work.”

The Women’s Council of Ireland also sent its condolences.

“Eavan Boland was a remarkable poet who wrote so powerfully about women, and the role of women throughout Irish history,” it said. “May she rest in peace.”

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Sean Murray

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