PATRICK KAVANAGH Biography - Famous Poets and dancers


Biography » famous poets and dancers » patrick kavanagh


Patrick Kavanagh was born in October 1904 in Mucker, Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan.           
His father was a shoemaker, and Patrick also entered the trade after leaving           
school. Kavanagh never got beyond 6th class -"I majored in kicking a rag ball",         
but his education continued as he sat at his father's side and as he carried out       
the routine chores on the little farm. For twenty years he lived the life of the       
ordinary young Irish farmer of the period, toiling for a few shillings' pocket         
money in fields he expected some day to inherit. Like all the other local               
farmers, he bought and sold at fair and market, went to Sunday Mass, attended           
wakes, funerals and weddings of neighbours, played pitch and toss at the               
crossroads, cycled to dances. He was also goalie for the Inniskeen Gaelic               
football team. It was through these every day moments that something of life           
revealed itself to Kavanagh.                                                           
He began to write verse in his early teens -"I dabbled in verse and it became my       
He began submitting poems to local and national newspapers. In 1928 he walked to       
Dublin to meet and make his first contact with the literary world. Macmillan's         
of London published his first book of poetry "Ploughman and Other Poems" in 1936.       
They also gave Kavanagh an advance on a book about rural life thus "The Green           
Fool" was born.                                                                         
He became increasingly dissatisfied with life as a small farmer, and in 1938 he         
left Inniskeen for London and remained there for about five months. In 1939 he         
finally settled in Dublin. There he was welcomed into the literary community as         
"The Ploughman Poet", but when it became clear that he had ambitions of being a         
great poet he soon lost his popularity. He eked out a living as a journalist,           
where his refusal to tell anything less than the whole truth made him an enemy         
of many.                                                                               
During his journalistic career Kavanagh continued to write poetry.                     
His epic poem "The Great Hunger" was published in 1942 and his classic novel "Tarry     
Flynn" was published in 1948 (- the only true account of rural life in Ireland),       
both books were initially banned on publication.                                       
In 1954 two major events changed Kavanagh's life: firstly he embarked on a libel       
action and ended up being torn apart in the dock himself, then shortly after he         
lost the action (which was subsequently won on appeal) he was diagnosed with           
lung cancer and was admitted to hospital where he had a lung removed. It was           
while recovering from this operation by relaxing on the banks of the Grand Canal       
in Dublin that Kavanagh rediscovered his poetic vision, which had first captured       
him as a young man in Inniskeen, and a new and wonderful phase of poetry               
followed. Kavanagh was now receiving the acclaim, which he had always felt he           
deserved. He gave lectures at UCD and in the U.S.A. He represented Ireland at           
literature symposia and became a judge of the Guinness Poetry Awards. Seamus           
Heaney was the recipient of this award in 1967.                                         
The Abbey Theatre had a major success with their stage version of Kavanagh's "Tarry     
Flynn" which they also staged at Dundalk's Town Hall. This was the triumphant           
return of a prophet to his own land.                                                   
Patrick Kavanagh took ill at the opening performance and he died later that week       
in a Dublin nursing home on November 30th 1967.