Friday 24 May 2019

Higgins laments loss of 'great outsider' O'Grady

Poet Desmond O'Grady in the Spaniard Pub in Kinsale. Photo: John Minihan
Poet Desmond O'Grady in the Spaniard Pub in Kinsale. Photo: John Minihan

President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to poet Desmond O'Grady, who passed away yesterday in Cork aged 78.

Dubbed 'the great outsider' due to the recognition he received overseas, Mr O'Grady produced 19 collections of poems and translations and rubbed shoulders with some of the greatest names in the Irish and European arts scene, including Samuel Beckett, Pablo Picasso, Federico Fellini, Ezra Pound and Jean Paul Sartre.

He also appeared in a scene in the 1960 Oscar-winning blockbuster 'La Dolce Vita', alongside the film's star Anita Ekberg.

Mr O'Grady, above, was born in Limerick in 1935 but left Ireland at 18 to embark on a six decade-long career which saw him take up residence in cities across Europe, Africa and the US.

He was also awarded a doctorate by Harvard University in Boston and later became a professor there. President Higgins said Mr O'Grady was "deeply committed" to his work as a poet which he said "had rightly received international attention".

Mr O'Grady's daughter, Deirdre, said he had lived 'a Bohemian lifestyle' and made friends "through charm and intellect". Mr O'Grady had three children and six grandchildren. He returned to Ireland and had been living in Kinsale until recently when his health began to fail. He passed away yesterday in a nursing home, two days before his 79th birthday.

Irish Independent

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