An File (The Poet), Mícheál Ó Gaoithín, The Blasket Painter

By: Mícheál Ó Gaoithín

Edited by: Maria Simonds-Gooding

Publication Date: 3 November 2022


An File (The Poet), Mícheál Ó Gaoithín, The Blasket Painter by Mícheál Ó Gaoithín, edited by Maria Simonds-Gooding
Mícheál Ó Gaoithín (1904–74), poet and writer, was born 3 January 1904 on the Great Blasket island, one of the six surviving children of renowned storyteller Peig Sayers and her husband, Pádraig ‘Flint’ Ó Guithín, a small farmer and fisherman.

Mícheál Ó Gaoithín became a fisherman after finishing primary school and worked on the family farm until around 1930 when he decided to follow his other siblings to Springfield, Mass., in the USA, in search of work. Lacking a job and being in poor health, he soon returned to the Blasket Islands. His interest in literature and folklore began at an early age and like his mother, Peig, he was a renowned storyteller.

Approximately six years before he died he took an interest in painting and drawing with the encouragement of the artist Maria Simonds-Gooding. A number of his paintings appeared in an exhibition on the Dingle peninsula entitled ‘An ghaeltacht bheo’ which opened in Dunquin National School on Easter Sunday, 1974. He entrusted his paintings to Simonds-Gooding and they are now held at the Muckross House Folk Museum outside Killarney.

An File (The Poet), Mícheál Ó Gaoithín, The Blasket Painter is a selection of 55 out of Ó Gaoithín’s paintings and drawings from his collection of 200 is accompanied by written responses to the work by novelist Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and art historian Catherine Marshall. This book is published to coincide with a special exhibition of Peig Sayers at the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) in 2022.

Maria Simonds-Gooding in Sunday Times: ‘We put a few more sods of turf on the fire to mark the start of an enduring and close friendship’– The artist talks about her collaboration with Mícheál Ó Gaoithín that led the Blasket Island poet to become a painter. Read here.

‘[An] elegant edition … Ó Gaoithín’s art documented the subsistence living of the Blaskets, as he painted scenes of night fishing, seal clubbing, cattle moving and mending of nets, and relived events such as Halloween and island funerals. There were more representations of Peig, and also of the fauna of the Blaskets, including goats and puffins. As President Michael D Higgins says in the introduction, this was “beautifully primitive artwork that celebrated a yearning for the Blaskets of his childhood”.’ John Burns, Irish Times

‘A wonderful Irish book … a gem’ Claddagh Records

‘A great tribute from one artist to another’ Lorna Siggins

‘I love the starkness, the simplicity … I was very impressed by him’ Maria Simonds-Gooding speaks to Wavelengths Podcast

‘Stunning … figurative and landscape painting at its most curious and vivid. ‘The Island King’s Boat: the sea full of life at twilight’ – a small pencil drawing of ghostly fishermen in a curragh surging beneath wheeling seagulls is one such moment where the perspective and dynamism in the work seems to almost exceed the medium.’ Adrian Duncan, Irish Times

Irish Times Best Art Book of the Year

‘A beautiful, extraordinary book … a remarkable artistic talent … what a legacy [Ó Gaoithín] has left us’ Treasa Murphy, Radio Kerry

Mícheál Ó Gaoithín (1904–74), poet and writer in Irish, was the son of renowned storyteller Peig Sayers and her husband, Pádraig ‘Flint’ Ó Guithín. He was a storyteller and painter in his own right.

Maria Simonds-Gooding is one of Ireland’s foremost painters and printmakers to have emerged since the Sixties.

Her work, which has been exhibited internationally, is represented in many public and private collections, including those of the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Born in India in 1939, Maria Simonds-Gooding studied at the National College of Art, Dublin, Le Centre de Peinture, Bruxelles, Bath Academy of Art, Corsham, UK from 1962–68 and has lived and worked in Kerry since 1947. She was elected a member of Aosdána in 1981 and was elected full membership of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 2012.



There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “An File (The Poet), Mícheál Ó Gaoithín, The Blasket Painter”

Weight 0.8 kg
Dimensions 270 × 280 mm
Publication Date

3 November 2022


Hardback, 144pp

You may also like…