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Journalist Eileen Battersby who died in a car crash over the weekend. ICDublin

'A critic relied upon by so many readers has been taken from us': Tributes pour in for former Irish Times literary journalist Eileen Battersby

During her career, Battersby wrote about all aspects of art and culture, and had a particular focus on literature.

TRIBUTES ARE BEING paid to former Irish Times literary correspondent, Eileen Battersby, who was killed in a car crash on Saturday. 

Battersby was seriously injured in the single-vehicle collision in Co Meath, and taken to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda where she later died. 

It is understood her daughter was also injured in the incident. 

The incident happened on the Oldbridge to Donore road, 4km outside Drogheda, at around 2pm that afternoon. 

During her career, Battersby wrote about all aspects of art and culture, and had a particular focus on literature.

President Michael D Higgins said in a statement:

News of the death of Eileen Battersby, literary critic, award winning journalist, novelist, animal lover and enthusiast for natural beauty, will have been heard with both shock and enormous sadness by those familiar with her work.
They will have been impressed over the years by the sheer breadth of her interests, her insatiable curiosity for what was being produced in writing in both English and lesser known languages, which she reviewed in translation.
Among all those, including Sabina and I, who have read her unique pieces over the years, there will be a feeling that criticism of fiction in particular has suffered a great loss. Indeed, to all those in the world of books, there will be a sense that a critic relied upon by so many readers, and respected by writers, has been taken from us.
All of us owe her a debt of gratitude for her unstinting efforts to bring the best writers from around the world to our attention, her unflinching standards, and for the enthusiasm with which she brought her celebration of all aspects of the arts to so many different audiences.
Sabina and I send our deepest condolences to her daughter Nadia, and the members of her family.

In a tribute published to the journalist in today’s edition of The Irish Times, Battersby is described as being as a four-times winner of the National Arts Journalist of the Year award. She also won the accolade of Critic of the Year.

In that article, Irish Times writer, columnist and former literary editor Fintan O’Toole writes:

Everything Eileen wrote was marked by a passionate curiosity. She had an insatiable interest in art, in architecture, in archaeology and of course in literature, especially fiction.
That curiosity extended to fiction in translation: she wanted to know what was being written in Korea or in Bangladesh just as much as in Ireland or Britain.

The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan said in a statement:

“I was very saddened to hear the news of the passing of Eileen Battersby.  Eileen was an immensely well-regarded arts critic and journalist – winning numerous awards during her career including the National Arts Journalist of the Year award – as well as publishing a number of works of both fiction and non-fiction.

“She will be greatly missed.  I would also like to offer my sincere condolences to Eileen’s family and friends at this sad time.”

Other tributes include the Book Editor of The Irish Times, Martin Doyle, who tweeted: 

“Shocking news. A terrible tragedy. My heart goes out to Eileen’s daughter Nadia. Eileen was a fearless and forthright critic and a great champion of literature, particularly in translation.”

Her colleagues from the newspaper have also been paying tribute to Battersby. 

“Such a sad night to be at work in The Irish Times newsroom,” tweeted journalist Bernice Harrison. 

Broadcaster Sinéad Gleeson said: 

“Awful news for Eileen’s family. RIP. Wishing her daughter Nadia a swift recovery.”

New Island Books also tweeted: 

We are deeply shocked and saddened by the death of Eileen Battersby. A fierce and uncompromising critic, a talented novelist and a friend to many, it is a great loss to the world of Irish literature. We are thinking of her daughter Nadia and the rest of her family at this time.

Today, RTE’S Morning Ireland programme played a clip of Battersby on the Christmas Sunday Miscellany, which is due to be broadcast between 9am-10am tomorrow morning. 

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