Patrick Kavanagh

Patrick Kavanagh Biography

Kavanagh was born on the 21st of October 1904, in the village of Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan, Ireland. His father was a shoemaker and had a small farm of land. At the age of thirteen Kavanagh became an apprentice shoemaker. He gave it up 15 months later, admitting that he didn't make one wearable pair of boots. For the next 20 years, Kavanagh would work on the family farm before moving to Dublin in 1939.

Kavanagh's writing resulted in the publication of some poems in a local newspaper in the early 1930's. In 1939, his brother Peter, who was a Dublin based teacher, urged him to move to the city to establish himself as a writer. The Dublin Literary Society saw Kavanagh as a country farmer and referred to him as "That Monaghan Boy".

Kavanagh spent the lean years of the war in Dublin, where his epic poem The Great Hunger was published in 1942, presenting the Irish farmer's grinding poverty and sexual inhibition. This found him in trouble with his publishers. In 1947, his first major collection A Soul for Sale , was published. These poems were the product of his Monaghan youth. After the war he published the novel Tarry Flynn (1948) which is a about a small time farmer who dreams of a different life as a writer and a poet. In the early 1950's, Kavanagh and his brother Peter, published a weekly newspaper called Kavanagh's Weekly , it failed because the editorial viewpoint was too narrow. In 1954, Kavanagh became embroiled in an infamous court case. He accused The Leader newspaper of slander. The newspaper decided to contest the case and hired John A. Costello, as their defense council. Kavanagh decided to prosecute the case himself and Costello destroyed him. The court case dragged on for over a year and Kavanagh's health began to fail. In 1955, he was diagnosed as having lung cancer and had a lung removed, Kavanagh survived and the event was a major turning point in his life and career. In 1958, he published Come Dancing with Kitty Stobling . In 1959, he was appointed to the faculty of English in UCD. His lectures were popular, but often irrelevant to the course. In the early 1960's, he visited Britain and USA. In 1965, he married Katherine Malony. He died in 1967 from an attack of bronchitis. Kavanagh's reputation as a poet is based on the lyrical quality of his work, his mastery of language and form and his ability to transform the ordinary into something of significance

Patrick Kavanagh died in Dublin on 30th November 1967, bringing to a close the life of one of Ireland's most controversial and colorful literary figures.

Patrick Kavanagh Quotes

11 November 2014

It is impossible to read the daily press without being diverted from reality. You are full of enthusiasm for the eternal verities—life is worth living, and then out of sinful curiosity you open a newspaper. You are disillusioned and wrecked.

11 November 2014

Actors are loved because they are unoriginal. Actors stick to their script. The unoriginal man is loved by the mediocrity because this kind of "artistic" expression is something to which the merest five-eighth can climb.

11 November 2014

Malice is only another name for mediocrity.

11 November 2014

A sweeping statement is the only statement worth listening to. The critic without faith gives balanced opinions, usually about second-rate writers.

11 November 2014

What appears in newspapers is often new but seldom true.

11 November 2014

A man is original when he speaks the truth that has always been known to all good men.

The Best Poem Of Patrick Kavanagh

In Memory Of My Mother

I do not think of you lying in the wet clay
Of a Monaghan graveyard; I see
You walking down a lane among the poplars
On your way to the station, or happily

Going to second Mass on a summer Sunday -
You meet me and you say:
'Don't forget to see about the cattle - '
Among your earthiest words the angels stray.

And I think of you walking along a headland
Of green oats in June,
So full of repose, so rich with life -
And I see us meeting at the end of a town

On a fair day by accident, after
The bargains are all made and we can walk
Together through the shops and stalls and markets
Free in the oriental streets of thought.

O you are not lying in the wet clay,
For it is a harvest evening now and we
Are piling up the ricks against the moonlight
And you smile up at us - eternally.

Patrick Kavanagh Comments

Alice Sinnott 09 October 2003

I would like a copy of the poem A View of God and the Devil by Patrick Kavanagh. Your help would be much appreciated.

11 16 Reply
Paul carroll 10 October 2018

Every month Patrick has poem to announce that month , this Oct and I love his poem

3 0 Reply
lolfam 19 December 2017

dis gucci poet i subskribe on utube

7 5 Reply
Ralph Wigg 20 February 2012

A beautiful poem set to a beautiful melody. I've listened to dozens of versions and while those listed here by others are fine, the wonderful, haunting track by Joan Osborne with the Chieftains is the one that gets me every time.

24 7 Reply
Cam Lyttle 16 April 2010

On Raglan Road was actually set to music by Kavanagh himself and the lead singer of The Dubliners, Luke Kelly. It is set to the music of the traditional Irish song 'Fainne Geal an Lae' (The Dawning of the Day) . This original version is by far the best of the numerous versions now on offer, truly capturing the feel of the poem (So much so it is used as a learning aid in Leaving Certificate English) , and i would wholly recommend anyone to give it a listen.

31 8 Reply
Michael Walsh 20 April 2008

Canadian singer Loreena McKennitt does an incredible job with Kavanagh's 'On Raglan Road' which she has set to music in her new album 'Nights from the Alhambra'. I mean this dame sings like a thrush! If one buys only one music CD a year, this would be it.

19 12 Reply

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