Michael Hartnett was born in County Limerick in 1941 and died in Dublin in 1999. ‘Eigse Michael Hartnett’, an annual commemorative festival established in 2000 takes place each year in Newcastle West, County Limerick, in his honour.
He wrote in both English and Irish and published translations from many languages. Like many others, he emigrated from rural Ireland to England in the 1960s. He returned to West Limerick in the mid-’70s and moved to Dublin about 10 years later.
The Gallery Press has published his major collections — A Farewell to English and A Necklace of Wrens (poems in Irish with translations into English), as well as Poems to Younger Women (1989), The Killing of Dreams (1992), Selected Poems (1994) and his acclaimed trilogy of translations of the 17th century poets O Bruadair, Haicéad and O Rathaille. Collected Poems appeared posthumously in 2001, A Book of Strays in 2002 and Translations in 2003.
Michael Hartnett was poetry editor of The Irish Times for a period. He was a member of Aosdána and received, in his lifetime, many awards including Poetry Ireland Choice, Irish Poetry Prize, the American Ireland Literary Fund Award in 1975, 1980 and 1990 and the Irish-American Cultural Institute award.