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Liam Ó Muirthile

Liam Ó Muirthile is a poet and writer. Born in Cork City in 1950, he learned Irish at school and in the Irish speaking region of West Kerry. His first collection of poetry was Tine Chnámh in 1984 which received the Irish-American Cultural Institute’s literary award and the major Oireachtas prize for poetry.

He received the Butler Award in 1996 for his novel Ar Bhruach na Laoi, and both the Arts Council Prize and Gradam Chló Iar-Chonnacht for his third collection of poems Walking Time agus Dánta eile. Liam has also written for the stage. Amharclann de hÍde produced his play Tine Chnámh in the Project Theatre in Dublin in 1993. His play Fear an Tae was produced in the Andrew’s Lane Theatre, Dublin in 1995, and Liodán na hAbhann was staged in the Crypt Theatre in Dublin Castle in 2000. He wrote a weekly column, An Peann Coitianta, for the Irish Times from 1989 to 2003.

His published works include: Tine Chnámh (1984), An Peann Coitianta (1991), Dialann Bóthair (1992), Ar Bhruach na Laoi (1995), An Peann Coitianta 2 (1997), Liodán na hAbhann (1999), Fear an Tae (1999), Walking Time agus Dánta Eile (2000), Gaothán (2000), An Seileitleán (2004), Sister Elizabeth ag Eitilt (2005), Ar an bPeann (Winter 2005), Dánta Déanta (Winter 2005), ÁÉÍÓÚ (Spring 2006).

Translations of various Ó Muirthile poems are in the following publications: An Tonn Gheal/The Bright Wave, Dermot Bolger (editor), Jumping Off Shadows, Selected Contemporary Irish Poets, Greg Delanty & Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (editors), Introductions, Modern Poetry in Translation, Series Three, No.1,(Bernard O’Donoghue) and Anthologie de la poésie Irlandaise du xxe siècle, Jean-Yves Masson (editor). Various single poems have been translated in German, French, Italian, Hungarian and Romanian collections.

Statement 18 May 2018

It is with deep regret and sadness that the Toscaireacht and members of Aosdána learned of the death of the Cork poet, Liam O Muirthile. A poet of infinite patience and meticulous craft, of immense, multilingual reading and scholarship, O Muirthile was one of the most brilliant intellectuals of his generation. He was a poet of the legendary Inntí generation at University College Cork, poets who fell under the spell of both Seán O Ríordáin and Seán O Riada, yet combined their influence with a modernising and modernist impulse. This Inntí generation was an urbanising conduit, a youthful and flourishing re-location of sensibilities within the Irish language. Linguistic expectations and possibilities were widened into new themes and a new signature was inscribed into the Irish world; a world that would now explore both Bob Dylan and Peig, or Apollinaire and Prévert as well as Nioclás Tóibín. Born in Cork in 1950, O Muirthile went on to study French and Irish at UCC, reaching a depth and fluency in both languages that few of his contemporaries could match. His first collection Tine Cnámh (1984) won a major Oireachtas prize as well as the Annual Literary Award of the Irish American Cultural Institute. Ar Bhruach na Laoiwon the Butler Prize in 1996, while his third collection, Walking Time agus Dánta Eile was awarded both an Arts Council Prize and Gradam Chló Iar-Chonnacht. O Muirthile’s wide, fantastical and magnificent imagination has found full-flow in work like Liadan na hAbhann, while in Dialann Bóthairhe weaves the destiny of Wolfe Tone into his own imaginative return to West Cork. For many years he also wrote a weekly column, An Peann Coitianta, for the Irish Times.

A warm and loyal friend to poets in both Irish and English, a passionate Corkman equally at home in Dún Laoghaire or Paris, his presence will be deeply missed but his immortal work will never be forgotten.

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