Northern Ireland

Belfast born poet and academic Gerald Dawe has died aged 72

The award-winning poet often drew on his northern roots in his work

Belfast poet Gerald Dawe. Picture by Bobbie Hanvey
Belfast poet Gerald Dawe. Picture by Bobbie Hanvey

President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to poet Gerald Dawe who died after a long illness “fought with bravery and conviction”.

Born in Belfast in 1952, Dawe died aged 72 at his home in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin on Thursday.

In a statement President Higgins said: “Ireland has lost a great poet and so many of us a warm and valued friend.

“I will miss him deeply, as will Sabina and all our family.”

He published 13 collections over the course of his life, often drawing on his northern roots.

In May he was awarded the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Prize for Poetry.

He studied English at the Ulster University before later becoming a lecturer at Galway University, where he published his debut collection in 1978.

Posting on social media, a spokesperson for the university said: “Devastated to hear of the passing of one of our most significant literary alumni, and dear friend, Gerald Dawe.”

Dawe was a professor at Trinity College Dublin until his retirement in 2017 and during that time he co-founded the first master’s programme in creative writing in Ireland.

University Provost Linda Doyle said he “would be greatly missed” at the university.

Fermanagh-born poet and arts broadcaster John Kelly, who’s work featured in Dawe’s 1991 anthology, said: “I’ll always be grateful to him for his encouragement and good humour.”

He is survived by his wife Dorothea, daughter Olwen and stepson Iarla.

In the death notice his family extended a special thanks to the oncology unit at Saint Vincent’s Private Hospital, as well as the public health and palliative care provided to Dawe during his recent illness.

A celebration of Dawe’s life is due to take place in the National Maritime Museum of Ireland, in Dublin at 2pm on Thursday, June 6.