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Cyril Ó Céirín

Selected Writings - published by North Clare Writers Workshop

Cyril Ó Céirín was born in Dublin on February 9th, 1934. His father's work in the Bank brought the family to many towns in Ireland as he was growing up. But Lisdoonvarna, his father's home place, was where he kept coming back to and where he finally settled with his wife, Kit, in 1988. The Kerins, Cyril maintained, had been in Clare over 500 years. The young Cyril went to study in UCD but then went to work in England as a navvy. And from there to South Africa, where he worked as a miner.

While in South Africa he met Kit Foley, his future wife, who was working there as a nurse. In South Africa he had his first success as a writer and as a freelance journalist. After six years he returned to Ireland and worked as a miner in the Avoca Mines before returning to college to finish his studies. In 1965 he and Kit were married. He became a teacher and moved the family with their two sons, Tadhg and Eoghan, to Limerick. He taught first in Mungret College and later in the Presentation Convent, Limerick. In Mungret he was also deeply involved in the Mungret community setting up Cuirt Éigse na Máighe. Breith, a literary collection from the group appeared in 1974 edited by Cyril.

The seventies and eighties where years of great literary and artistic output for both Cyril and Kit. They formed the highly successful collaborative team of Cyril and Kit Ó Céirín in putting their names to such works as Wild and Free, O'Brien Press, 1978, a book on the wild harvest that became a classic. It was followed by Séadna, Glendale, 1989, the translation of the classic Irish tale by An tAthair Peadar (Peter O'Leary), and continued into the nineties with the biographic dictionary, Women of Ireland, Tír Eolas, 1996.

As an artist, Cyril believed strongly in the total commitment to the working of the craft, and where possible making a living from it. To this end both he and Kit survived in their early married life on freelance writing and painting. In 1988 he gave up teaching to concentrate more on his creative work. By then they had moved to Lisdoonvarna, they were restoring his father's home house, Atlantic View House, one of the oldest houses in Lisdoonvarna, and they were taking an active part in the community. The joie de vivre that was characteristic of Cyril, meant new friends, of course, straight away. His enthusiasm for local history and the Irish language, which he passed on in the informal gatherings (classes) conducted in what must have been reminiscent of the hedge school, will long be cherished. Great generosity of spirit in the recognition of talent in others will not be forgotten either.

He was a member of the Burren Action Group, active in the campaign to preserve Mullaghmore in the Burren free from intrusive development. He was an inspiration to all. And a point of contact for many academics, travellers, students, etc., engaging in research. Recently he had become a publisher and director of Rathbane Publishing/Cló and Rátha Bhaín. A culmination of many talents in a unique individual that sadly were untimely lost.

The house on Knockaunavicteera
(After the Irish)

The Kerin house on Knockaunavicteera,
it was Tomas Muar's, it was Jim Tom's,
it was Packo's after them,
it was mine in my own turn
and time alone will tell
who'll next come in this place
and leave his mark upon it
and go the way of flesh
but the old house stands its ground
like that famed doon of Rathdangan,
witness to human vanities:
while the proud Kerins, one by one,
are laid low in cold Kilmoon.

Cyril Ó Céirín (1934-1999)

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Cyril Ó Céirín