‘A man who understands the true value of life … he shows us that everything that lives is connected.’ – Jane Urquhart
‘He writes charmingly with colour, fun and a flair few others have ever bettered.’ – Sunday Tribune
‘He is a Kerry performer with a poet’s relish of words and testifies to the rich and different mindset framed by the language and its landscape.’ – The Irish Times
Skelligs Sunset, a posthumous volume of work in English by Michael Kirby, is the final part in his trilogy of memoir, storytelling and poetry begun with Skelligside (1990) and Skelligs Calling (2003). This remarkable writer, farmer-fisherman and painter was born in May 1906 and died in April 2005. Aside from a three-year sojourn in the United States where he worked on the railroads during the Great Depression, he spent his lifetime in County Kerry. He also wrote eight books in Irish under the name Micheal Ua Ciarmhaic, and from his eyrie in Ballinskelligs bore witness to a world that changed so radically, from the age of the transatlantic cable to the era of the Internet.
His lyric poems evoke the sea, wind and landscape of south Iveragh in all its natural beauty. The memoirs, beginning with his schooldays and concluding in his garden, describe characters from fellow storyteller Sean O Conaill to Dan of the Roads, and record night hauls at sea, superstitions, wedding customs, games, pastimes and petty sessions in the Portmagee courts. Folklore and tall tales of courtship, fortune-seeking, gypsy magic and homecoming depict characters from the peninsula and resonate with a piquant humour and imagination.
Deep knowledge and a love of the local pervade Michael Kirby’s writings. They remind the reader of the wonders and simpler joys in a life that he celebrated with such spirit.
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