By: Michael Kirby
Publication Date: 01 Sep 2019
Written by Michael Kirby, Skelligs Haul is a generous compilation of prose and poetry, appealing for his simple, elegant style, his knowledge of unique local lore, and his inimitable observations.
Michael Kirby, a man who spent nearly every day of his ninety-nine years on the beautiful Iveragh peninsula, apart from a brief period in the United States, knew better than most that survival demanded persistence, passion, civility and good humour. Close to the World Heritage site of Skellig Michael, he eked out a living fishing and farming with intimate knowledge of every inch of sea and soil.
This volume, updated and revised, is organised thematically, demonstrates Kirby’s great gift of expressing the artist’s fresh, passionate insight in elegant, plain language and with the dispassionate slant of a scientist. His knowledge of local birds and fish was as encyclopaedic and forensic as his grasp of place names.
Referred to as ‘one of the last authentic expressions of the Gaelic tradition, artlessly fusing the worlds of flesh and spirit’, he was a mystic who found his God, his solace and serenity in every living thing in Iveragh. This book includes some dual texts of poems from Irish to English and vice versa by Kirby, showing that his inward eye led to verse in both the romantic vein and the fine tradition of Irish-language religious verse. This collection also presents reproductions of his landscape paintings, an introduction by poet Paddy Bushe and an editor’s preface and note.
Michael Kirby / Mícheál Ua Ciarmhaic (1906–2005) was an Irish and English language prose writer and poet whose first collection was published at the age of seventy-eight. He was the author of numerous further collections of poetry and prose in both Irish and English, including Skelligside (1990), Skelligs Calling (2003) and the posthumous Skelligs Sunset (2006). Michael Kirby was a talented landscape painter, a profoundly knowledgeable folklorist, an engaging memoirist and an environmentalist before his time.