A special exhibition is being held in Galway on the Irish language poet, Máirtín Ó Direáin, thirty years after his death in March 1988.
The free exhibition, titled ‘Máirtín Ó Direáin – Fathach File / Reluctant Modernist’ is on display in the Hardiman Building at NUI Galway from March to July.
It was curated by Síobhra Aiken, a PhD researcher in the Centre for Irish Studies, and draws on University, State and private archives, with many materials on public display for the first time.
It is a highlight of the University’s celebration of Seachtain na Gaeilge 2018.
Síobhra Aiken said that while Ó Direáin is considered to be the ‘father of modern Irish poetry’, his legacy has arguably been overlooked and his life story has never been written.
“I hope that the exhibition will provide new biographical information, which enlightens our understanding of Ó Direáin work and will encourage further academic research on his life and his poetry,” she said.
The exhibition draws on a range of archival and private material, as well as resources and art collections from within the University and beyond to give a fascinating insight into this iconic literary figure.”
The exhibition offers new information on aspects of Ó Direáin’s life, such as the respect he earned as a young actor in An Taibhdhearc theatre, the steps he took to promote the rights of post office workers, and his position as President of Cumann na Scríbhneoirí (The Writers’ Association) in Dublin.
Members of the extended Ó Direáin family were present at the launch and gave personal insights into the poet’s life and inspirations. Máirtín Ó Direáin’s only daughter, Niamh Sheridan, spoke at the launch, and was joined by her partner Don, daughter Gráinne McCann and grandson Shane.
Also present at the launch were the Mná Fiontracha group from Árainn, who helped source material for the exhibition, and Peadar Mac Mághnais, who has donated art and manuscripts connected to Ó Direáin to the University in recent years.
Máirtín Ó Direáin’s poetry has been a core part of the Irish language Leaving Certificate syllabus, and the exhibition will be of particular relevance to fifth and sixth year secondary school students seeking to gain further insight into his poetry.