Five Less Famous (but still brilliant) Irish Poets That You Should Probably Know About

1674272_b_1226Adomnan was born in 524 and in addition to being an Abbot, hagiographer, a keen traveler and the friend of kings, this guy also managed to find time for poetry writing. The pieces attributed to Adomnan were written in Gaelic and fairly holy in nature.

Emily Lawless contributed a great deal to the canon of Irish literature, including novels, nature studies, biographies and shorter fiction. You can find her complete collection of papers at The Marsh Library in Dublin, and many of her writings are available here via the invaluable Project Gutenberg.

Catherine Walsh is the founder of hardPressed Poetry Press and a prolific poet. Walsh is a great example of contemporary Irish women poets.

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (or, you know, just Oscar Wilde) often goes unrecognized for his contributions to the genre of poetry. “On The Sale By Auction Of Keats’ Love Letters” is particularly striking, exhibiting Wilde’s remarkable command of language:

These are the letters which Endymion wrote
To one he loved in secret and apart,
And now the brawlers of the auction-mart
Bargain and bid for each poor blotted note,
Aye! for each separate pulse of passion quote
The merchant’s price! I think they love not art
Who break the crystal of a poet’s heart,
That small and sickly eyes may glare or gloat.
Is it not said, that many years ago,
In a far Eastern town some soldiers ran
With torches through the midnight, and began
To wrangle for mean raiment, and to throw
Dice for the garments of a wretched man,
Not knowing the God’s wonder, or his woe?

Colmán of Cloyne was the first Irish poet to write in Irish verse using the Latin alphabet. Preserved verses date from 565 and 604 AD and exhibit what is considered exceptional poetic capability.


I admit to being devoted to the voluminous writings of Seamus Heaney who possessed an indelible gift with poetry. Weaving words, Heaney consistently managed to make even the boggiest of Irish peat a thing of beauty. Do tell me if you have a favorite Irish poet.

How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? If you’re still looking for ideas, Vienna’s Write Now writer’s group is hosting a “Whiskey & Poetry” event later this evening.

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