Cathal Ó Searcaigh is one of the most significant poets of modern Irish. He was born in the Donegal Gaeltacht, studied at the National Institute for Higher Education in Limerick, and worked for a time in radio and television in Dublin before returning home to live and work as a full-time writer in Gort an Choirce.
His earliest work, of the ‘70s, explores the tension between alienation and liberation for a rural emigrant in the anonymity of a large city, a tension resolved in the more mature work that followed in the ‘80s, where the rural homeplace provides a sense of community and tradition, an intimate connection with the natural world, and a meaningful public role for a poet, in keeping with the older Gaelic tradition.
Although his more recent work is leaner and occasionally harsher, there is an exuberance of language and feeling throughout most of Ó Searcaigh’s work, an openness to the world and a broad range of acknowledged and submerged influences, including William Wordsworth and John Clare, the Liverpool poets and the Beats, Asian poetry, both ancient and contemporary, and Irish poetry in both languages.
—Poem from Leabhar na hAthghabhála / Poems of Repossession, Bloodaxe Books, 2016