Tuesday 20 November 2018

'Unfailingly courteous and generous' - Poet and critic Anthony Cronin dies aged 88

Author and poet Anthony Cronin at home in Ranelagh.
Photo: Tony Gavin 27/11/14
Author and poet Anthony Cronin at home in Ranelagh. Photo: Tony Gavin 27/11/14
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Tributes have been paid to poet and critic Anthony Cronin who has died, aged 88.

Mr Cronin, who wrote a column on poetry for the Sunday Independent, was described as an "iconic figure in Irish letters, an impassioned and incisive commentator on politics and culture, and one of the most influential of Irish writers during a long and varied life".

Born in Enniscorthy in 1928, Mr Cronin was already a noted poet and critic while still a student in UCD.

He went on to publish 14 volumes of poetry, acclaimed biographies of Flann O’Brien and Samuel Beckett, the novels The Life of Riley and Identity Papers, a number of books of essays, and a memoir of literary Dublin in the mid 20th century, Dead As Doornails.

He was editor of The Bell magazine, and was also literary editor of the London journal, Time and Tide.

His Irish Times column, ‘Viewpoint’, was published between 1973 and 1980.

Author and poet Anthony Cronin at home in Ranelagh.
Photo: Tony Gavin 27/11/14
Author and poet Anthony Cronin at home in Ranelagh. Photo: Tony Gavin 27/11/14

Most recently he wrote a column on poetry for the Sunday Independent.

Sunday Independent Editor Cormac Bourke said: “Anthony Cronin was a poet and philosopher; he was an intellectual powerhouse of the 20th Century. One of the must influential culture figures in modern Ireland, he was a regular contributor to the Sunday Independent across three decades, including his popular weekly poetry column.

“It was an honour to have him continue to grace the pages of the Sunday Independent and we will be proud to publish his final selection for that column this Sunday. Our deepest condolences to his wife Anne and daughter Sarah – and his many colleagues and friends.”

Sunday Independent Literary Editor Madeleine Keane said: "I'm very saddened to hear about the death of Anthony Cronin. Receiving his Sunday poem each week was a joy because it was always fascinating to see what emerged from that formidable mind of his. It has been a great privilege to work with him for the last 14 years. My deepest sympathies to his family and most especially to his wife Anne Haverty."

Speaking today, Sheila Pratschke, Chair of the Arts Council said: “Tony Cronin was a rare example of the public intellectual in Irish life — committed, fearless, rigorous in his thought, and unashamedly forthright in his advocacy of what he thought right and good. Appalled by the penury faced by so many senior Irish artists in their later years, he persuaded then Taoiseach Charles Haughey, to whom he was cultural advisor, to establish Aosdána, an independent affiliation of artists which recognises significant achievement by artists in all disciplines.

"He served from its inception on the Toscaireacht, the steering committee, of the organisation. He was conferred with the high honour of Saoi by that body in 1993, joining among other luminaries Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney, Sean Ó Faoláín, Mary Lavin, Tony O’Malley and Brian Friel.

"Unfailingly courteous and generous in his dealings with others, and particularly kind to emerging younger writers, Cronin held himself to the highest standard in his literary production. The poems were ever and always at the heart of his work, being unashamedly modernist in their rigour, sometimes bleak, but always forgiving and always passionately humane.”

He is survived by his wife Anne and daughter Sarah.

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