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Trinity College Dublin
brendan kennelly

Funeral of Brendan Kennelly takes place in Kerry

Tributes have poured in for the celebrated poet and novelist, who died peacefully on Sunday.

LAST UPDATE | 20 Oct 2021

THE FUNERAL OF celebrated poet and novelist Brendan Kennelly has taken place today.

Tributes have poured in for Kennelly, who died peacefully on Sunday after a long illness.

President Michael D Higgins was among mourners gathered for the funeral mass at the Church of St Michael the Archangel, Ballylongford, Co Kerry. 

The congregation heard a reading of Kennelly’s poem Begin.

A public service to celebrate the life of Kennelly will be held in 2022.

Born in Ballylongford in Co Kerry on 17 April 1936, Kennelly wrote over 20 books of poetry, along with plays, novels and criticism.

Some of his most famous works include Cromwell (1983/87), Poetry me Arse (1995) and more recently Reservoir Voices (2009).

He was also a Professor of Modern Literature at Trinity College Dublin for 30 years until his retirement in 2005.

Paying tribute to the late poet, President Michael D Higgins said: “As a poet, Brendan Kennelly had forged a special place in the affections of the Irish people. He brought so much resonance, insight, and the revelation of the joy of intimacy to the performance of his poems and to gatherings in so many parts of Ireland. He did so with a special charm, wit, energy and passion.”

“Delivered from the flux of transacted life, ordinary words of the everyday had their beauty revealed for audiences and, in their recovery, the public shared life being celebrated.”

“Brendan’s poetry is infused with the details and texture of life, its contradictions and moments of celebration including the wry experiences of football and politics.
With more than 30 collections, he leaves a major body of work, a legacy of teaching as Professor of Modern Literature at Trinity College Dublin, and the gratitude of so many younger poets whom he encouraged with honest and helpful critical advice.”

President Higgins concluded: “There are many for whom an insightful and twinkling intelligence has left us, but it will endure in the lines of the poems as he wished.”

Sabina and I offer our condolences to his sister Nancy, his brothers, Sean, John, Alan and Paddy, his granddaughters and the extended family as well as his wide circle of friends, all of whom treasured his presence among them, a friendship he valued.

Provost of Trinity College Dublin Linda Doyle described Kennelly as “an inspiring teacher, a talented poet and a warm and good humoured presence on campus”.

With reporting from Hayley Halpin and Adam Daly

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