Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin et al
To celebrate the wonders of her work on the occasion of her 80th birthday an array of international writers have selected a poem by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and provide an essay on their choice. Edited by Peter Fallon
Michael Augustin l Tara Bergin l Sujata Bhatt Colette Bryce l Kimberly Campanello l Aingeal Clare l Gerald Dawe l Sasha Dugdale l Anne Enright l Martina Evans l Peter Fallon l John FitzGerald l Tom French l Kevin Graham l Lavinia Greenlaw l Vona Groarke l James Harpur l Seán Hewitt l Eleanor Hooker l Maria Johnston l Victoria Kennefick l Frances Leviston l Aoife Lyall l Thomas Lynch l Seán Lysaght l Aifric Mac Aodha l John McAuliffe l Thomas McCarthy l Frank McGuinness l Audrey Molloy l Paul Muldoon l Caitríona Ní Chléirchín l Annemarie Ní Churreáin l Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh l Mary O’Donnell l Bernard O’Donoghue l Olivia O’Leary l Carl Phillips l Leeanne Quinn l Billy Ramsell l Peter Sirr l Gerard Smyth l Karen Solie l Colm Tóibín l Molly Twomey l Rosanna Warren l David Wheatley l Grace Wilentz l Vincent Woods l Enda Wyley
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin is a Fellow and Professor of English (Emerita) at Trinity College, Dublin. She served as Ireland Professor of Poetry from 2016-2019. In May 2022 she was elected Saoi by the members of Aosdána, the highest honour of that affiliation of artists.
The Thankless Paths to Freedom
In her Irish Times review of Medbh McGuckian’s most recent collection, Marine Cloud Brightening, Martina Evans described her as ‘more relevant than ever, eerily prescient, [she] continues her unique mining of verbal language’. Riffing on and repeating words the majority of the poems in The Thankless Paths to Freedom were conceived in the hiatus between Ireland’s centenary celebrations for the 1916 Rising and the hundred year anniversary of the setting up of the Northern Irish state in 1921. Images of cells and privation, isolation and penitentiaries, abound.
The poetic persona itself seems to form a prison; landscape and environment are equally enslaved. The dominant Yeatsian muse is Constance Markievicz in her paradoxical history of privilege and sacrifice. As this constantly inventive poet writes, ‘the only way I could // achieve an intentional fall was / to become plural, to reassemble . . . and haunt myself’.
The Gallery Press has published Medbh McGuckian’s Selected Poems and sixteen collections. Her recent title, Marine Cloud Brightening (2019), was shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award.