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Celebrated poet Brendan Kennelly dies aged 85

During his lifetime, Kennelly wrote over 20 books of poetry, along with plays, novels and criticism.

Brendan Kennelly
Brendan Kennelly
Image: Trinity College Dublin

CELEBRATED POET AND novelist Brendan Kennelly has died aged 85.

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 Kennelly, 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.

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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”.

- Additional reporting from Adam Daly

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