Máire Mhac an tSaoi was born in Dublin in 1922. Her father, Seán MacEntee, a native of Belfast, was a prominent politician who had served in the 1916 rising against British rule in Ireland. Her mother was a teacher and scholar. Her uncle, Monsignor Pádraig de Brún, was a distinguished and influential schlolar of the Irish language. From the age of two she spent up to five months a year in his house in Dún Chaoin, in the heart of the Munster Gaeltacht, or Irish-speaking area, so that, the poet says, she can never remember a time when she was not bilingual. Her debut collection of poetry was published to acclaim in 1956 and subsequent volumes established her as a unique and revolutionary voice in Irish-language poetry.

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