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Notes on the Poets of Clare by Thomas F. O’Rahilly


All through the centuries, and down to the Great Famine, Clare holds an honourable position in the literary history of Ireland. During the eighteenth century when learning had practically died out of the neighbouring province of Connaght - and to a large extent also out of the border county of Tipperary - Clare continued to be a centre of literary activity, and produced a band of Irish poets and scholars whose work need not fear comparison with even that of the writers of Desmond. Unfortunately the growing anglicisation of the last half-century seems to have made the people of Clare, perhaps even more than those of other counties, incuriosi suorum; and it is a deep reproach to Clare, and to Ireland, that, with the exception of Brian Merriman, the works of all these poets have been left to moulder in MSS., unknown and unappreciated save by a few.

In the hope of calling attention to this long neglected literature of Clare, I have put together some concise biographical notes on the principal Clare writers and scholars from about 1700 to 1850. In the compilation of these notes I have made full use of the available printed material; but my chief sources of information have been the works of the poets themselves, together with MS. accounts left by Eugene O’Curry, Micheál Ó Raghallaigh, Brian O’Looney, and Seamus MacCuirtín. I am fully conscious of the imperfections of these brief sketches, but such as they are they will, I hope, be found to be more accurate and reliable, and generally also fuller, than any biographical notices of these poets that have hitherto appeared in print.



Aindrias Mac Cuirtín