Republic of Ireland news

Tributes paid to Irish language poet Máire Mhac an tSaoi

Máire Mhac an tSaoi has died aged 99.
Paul Ainsworth

ACCLAIMED Irish language poet and scholar Máire Mhac an tSaoi has died aged 99.

The Dublin-born writer and academic, who was the daughter of Belfast-born Easter Rising rebel and former Tánaiste Seán MacEntee, died at her Dublin home at the weekend, her family have said in a statement.

Among her achievements throughout her long life was becoming the first woman to be called to the bar in Ireland in 1942, going on to work in the Department of External Affairs.

However, she became best known for her passion for the Irish language and her body of poetry. Her poems have been cited as among the most influential of the mid-20th century in Ireland, and among the plaudits for her work were the O'Shaughnessy Poetry Award of the Irish American Cultural Institute.

Ms Mhac an tSaoi married politician and writer Conor Cruise O'Brien in 1962. She is survived by children Margaret and Patrick, and step-daughter Fedelma.

Paying tribute to Ms Mhac an tSaoi, Irish president Michael D Higgins said: "She made a profound and distinctive contribution to our society in terms of literature, diplomacy and above all poetry.

"Her fearless, powerful and intriguing personality led her to defy established convention and expectations in a unique way. A prolific writer, she had a lifelong, and contagious, passion for the Irish language, and for the people of the Gaeltacht."

Meanwhile, tributes have also been paid to Kerry poet Brendan Kennelly, who has died aged 85.

A former Professor of Modern Literature at Trinity College Dublin, Mr Kennelly wrote over 50 poetry books, including 1991's best-selling The Book of Judas.

Fellow Kerry poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice said Mr Kennelly had an "understanding of the Irish people and psyche, which manifested itself in his poetry".

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