Padraic Fallon

1905-1974 [err. 1906], b. Athenry, Co. Galway; ed. St Joseph’s School, Roscrea; family moved to Dublin after his depressive father became bankrupt; served as a customs official at Cootehill, Co. Cavan, moving to Dublin to 1939; collaborated with W. B. Yeats on compilation of Broadsheets (Cuala Press 1939); moved to Wexford, were he remained for 40 years; contrib. poetry and prose [chiefly reviews] to The Bell and Dublin Magazine to 1958; his verse plays Diarmuid and Grainne (1950), The Vision of Mac Conglinne (1953), et al., were produced by Mícheál Ó hAodha on Radio Éireann; lived in Wexford till 1970, and settled in Kinsale on retirement; died on a visit to his fifth son, Ivan, at Aylesford, Kent; buried Kinsale, Co. Cork; his Poems (1974) appeared in the year of his death; Collected Poems were edited by his son Brian with a preface by Seamus Heaney in 1990; his prose has also been reprinted by his son Brian [q.v.]; other sons incl. father of Niall (economist), and Conor (sculptor, d. 2007); Garrett, Niall, Ivan, and Padraic [the 6th]. DIW DIL HAM OCIL FDA

Collected Poems
—Cover image and verse posted on Facebook by Neil Patrick Doherty 22-03-2017.

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  • Lighting-up Time [Tower Press booklets; 3rd ser., No. 2] (Dublin: Orwell Press 1938), 26pp. [ltd. edn. 300].
  • Poems (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1974).
  • A Poet's Journal and Other Writings 1934-1974, ed. Brian Fallon (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2005), 351pp.
  • Diarmuid and Grainne (RTÉ 1950).
  • The Vision of Mac Conglinne (1953), rep. in Coilín D. Owens & Joan N. Radner, eds., Irish Drama 1900-1980 (Washington: Catholic University of American Press 1990), pp.460-538.
radio plays
  • The Seventh Step (1954)
  • Sweet Love Till Morn (1974).
  • ‘The Poetry of Thomas Davis’, in Thomas Davis and Young Ireland (Dublin 1945).
  • ed. & intro., Poems of Emily Lawless [Chomhairle Ealaíon Irish Authors Series] (Dolmen 1965), 52pp.
  • Brian Fallon, ed., Poems and Versions (Dublin: Raven Arts; Manchester: Carcanet 1983), 112pp.
  • Brian Fallon, ed. [with afterword & notes], Collected Poems, introduced by Seamus Heaney (Dublin: Gallery Press; Manchester: Carcanet 1990), 280pp.
  • Brian Fallon, ed., A Look in the Mirror and Other Poems, intro. by Eavan Boland ( Manchester: Carcanet 2003), xi, 150pp.
  • Brian Fallon, ed., The Vision of Mac Conglinne and Other Plays (Manchester Carcanet 2005), 220pp.

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  • Donagh MacDonagh, ed. Poems from Ireland, preface by R M Smylie (Dublin: The Irish Times 1944), [see extract].
  • Donald Davie, ‘Austin Clarke and Padraic Fallon’, in Two Decades of Irish Writing (Manchester: Carcanet; Chester Springs: Dufour Edns. 1975), pp.37-58.
  • Edna Longley, review of Poems in The Honest Ulsterman, Nos. 46-47 (Nov. 1974-Feb. 1975), pp.65-66 [see extract].
  • Brian Fallon, ‘Afterword’, in Poems and Versions (Manchester: Carcanet 1983), pp.101-122.
  • Maurice Harmon, ‘The Poetry of Padraic Fallon,’ Studies (Autumn 1975), pp.269-81.
  • Eamon Grennan, ‘Affectionate Truth: Critical Intelligence in the Poetry of Padraic Fallon), in Irish University Review, 121 (Autumn 1982), pp.173-88.
  • Denis O’Driscoll, ‘Athens to Athenry: Padraic Fallon Rediscovered’, in Eigse/Poetry Ireland Review (Summer 1990). pp.34-46.
  • Peter Sirr, ‘The Ironic Visionary’, in Irish Times (5.8.1989) [review of Collected Poems].
  • Patrick O’Brien, ed., Erect Me a Monument of Broken Wings: An Anthology of Writings by and on Padraic Fallon (Athenry: V. P. Shield [1992]), 114pp., ill.
  • Neil Corcoran, ‘Makeshift Monologue: the Poetry of Padraic Fallon’ [chap.], in Poets of Modern Ireland: Text, Context, Intertext (Wales UP 1999), pp.34-55

See also R. F. Garraett, Modern Irish Poetry: Tradition and Continuity from Yeats to Heaney (California UP 1986), pp.70-7; also Coilín D. Owens and Joan N. Radner, eds., ‘Padraic Fallon’ [biographical notice], in Irish Drama 1900-1980 (Catholic University of America Press 1990), pp.456-59; John F. Deane, ed., Irish Poetry of Faith and Doubt (Dublin: Wolfhound 1991), pp.14-15 [see extract].

See also Seán MacReamonn, History of the Revenue Commissioners [devotes a page on ‘Personalities’ to Fallon].

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Donagh MacDonagh, ed. Poems from Ireland, preface by R M Smylie (Dublin: The Irish Times 1944), [q.p.];'by profession he [Fallon] is an excise officer but, like Burns, thinks more of poetry'.

Edna Longley, review of Poems in The Honest Ulsterman, Nos. 46-47 (Nov. 1974-Feb. 1975), pp.65-66; commences by quote Louis MacNeice’s ‘Elegy for Minor Poets’; commends his poetry as ‘unphoney and unpretentious’; remarks his occasionally achieved verses; notes limitations and overstrainings, or loss of rhythm, even within a poem; selects ‘Weir Bridge’ as example; ‘This time more in sorrow than in anger, I again find a Dolmen volume a non-event]. (See further under Thomas Kinsella, infra.)

John F. Deane, ed., Irish Poetry of Faith and Doubt (Dublin: Wolfhound 1991), pp.14-15: ‘And yet Padraic Fallon succeeded in a poetry that is religious in the traditional sense and is also perhaps our finest achievement; it succeeds because the trappings of faith so beloved in Ireland, the statues, the beads, the rules, the dogmas, are ignores and the mystery [14] of religion is fully internalised. His poems are profoundly personal, not side-tracked by any shifts in social conditions, and yet the poems remain fully alert to the ultimate mystery that remains in any religious faith. He is a clear, unsentimental eye, his religious poetry remains rich and valuable in a perennially satisfying way. [15]

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Dennis O’Driscoll, review in Book Ireland April 1992), ‘Athens to Athenry, Padraic Fallon Rediscovered’, review by of Fallon’s Collected Poems (Carcanet / Gallery), ed. Brian Fallon, intro. Seamus Heaney, There is a bust by his son, Connor Fallon. Gabriel Fallon, b. Athenry, Co. Galway, 1905; revenue official; Customs and Excise, Waterford, 1939-93. 17 radio plays and conversational poems. Conducted a ‘Journal’ in The Bell [‘There is more to life than despair of life. There is this body-joy in its own energies, the thing lthat makes trees grown and men marry ... Let despair come later. Having lived his joys, he will cope with that too.’ ‘Behind us, a powerful ghost, engaging our rhythms to some hereditary and ancient well, is the Irish language.’] The poet is under-rated.

Denis O’Driscoll, ‘Athens to Athenry, Padraic Fallon Rediscovered’, in Poetry Ireland (Summer 1990). pp.34-46 [marking publication of Collected Poems; includes quotations from Eavan Boland, review of Poems and Versions in Irish Times (23 April 1983), and an earlier essay in the same paper, ‘master of Lyrics’.

Patrick Crotty remarks on the scope of the selection from his work represented in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Literature (1992), in ‘Anthologising the Archipelago’ [Sect. II of two-part article with Carol Rumens, pp.94-104], in Irish Review, 14 (Autumn 1993), pp.99-104: ‘Kiberd’s implicit claim for the pre-eminence of Fallon in the canon of Anglo-Irish poetry between Yeats and the present is all the more startling given the very low pressure at which the longest of the poems by him here, “Yeats’s Tower at Ballylee”, operates.’ (Crotty, op. cit., p.103; see selection list, infra).

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Modern stage: ‘I am not drawn very much to our modern stage because it has, in Dublin at any rate, frozen itself into a three-walled convention where there can be only a theatrical poetry of situation and no metrical poetry, no verbal enlightenment such as a chorus can give. A poet needs to break down those three walls somehow, and let another world through so that, indeed, some of the characters bring a comet-tail of something larger than the human along with them. (The Bell, 18, 2, 1952, p.109). [quoted in Gerry Smyth, Decolonisation and Criticism: The Construction of Irish Literature (London: Pluto Press 1998), pp.115-16.] Note, Smyth comments that poetic theatre was anathema to Kavanagh, who aspersed Fallon for this reason; Smyth further remarks that the ‘smug, informed tone [and] the affected “indeed” ... and the quasi-Romantic sentiment would have all been grist to Kavanagh’s iconoclastic mill.’ (pp.115-16.)

For Paddy Mac”: ‘That was my country, beast, sky and anger: For music a mad piper in the mud; / No poets I knew of; or they mouthed each other’s words; / Such low powered gods / They died, as they were born, in byres. / Oh, maybe some rags and tatters did sing. / But poetry, for all your talk, is never that simple ...’ (Quoted in Dennis O’Driscoll, ‘Padraic Fallon Rediscovered’, as above; also in Fred Johnston, review of A Look in the Mirror, in Books Ireland, March 2004, p.55, remarking that we are particularly enjoined by Eavan Boland to read this poem.) Note, the Paddy Mac of the title is Patrick McDonogh.

The hard life: ‘Any kind of artist in any kind of art is nowadays speaking a foreign language; his public is so small that he is practically talking to himself ... This is a rotten way to live, really, and if a poet hadn't his round dozen of other poets to take an interest in him, he'd develop a belief in metempsychosis and return out of spite as an animal that makes the loudest noise, a bull-elephant, say, or an Orange Order drummer.’ (Poet's Journal; quoted in Alan O'Riordan, ‘The artist as critic’, [review], in Books Ireland, Oct. 2005, p.226.)

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John Montague, ed., Faber Book of Irish Verse (London: Faber 1974) selects “Assumption” and “The Young Fenians”.

Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1979) calls him one of the most accomplished but neglected modern Irish writers; his radio plays produced by Michael Ó hAodha, who calls them ‘in many respects the most successful modernizations of old Irish literature.’ Lighting Up Time (1938), story; Poems (Dolmen 1974).

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3, selects poems from Poems, ‘Assumptions, ‘Yeats’s Tower at Ballylee’ [‘And suddenly I know the tower is / A boy’s dream and background to his rhyme ... The higher we clamber up / Into ourselves the greater seems the danger’], ‘Women’ [‘We are born to them ... And I have a tower to climb, the tower of me’], ‘The Poems of Love’ [‘All the poems of love are one; / All women too, ‘Johnstown Castle’ [compares ‘real swan muck[ing] up the lake; with Yeats’s ‘ideal swan’], ‘The Young Fenians’ [‘They looked so good / They were the coloured litographs / Of Murat, Bernadote and Ney / And the little Corsican / .. / O’Connell helpless in his house; / The old gazebos at their talk / Tone must rise and emmet walk / Edward troop out of Kildare / The time had come; the day was fair ... Tone must rise and Emmet walk ... a country rising from its knees / to upset all the histories’], ‘Kiltartan Legend’, ‘Letter from Ballylee’ [Raftery, Mary Hynes, Helen, ‘painting of My Father’, ‘Sunday Morning’; from Poems and Versions, ‘A Hedge Schoolmaster’, ‘After Horace’, [1319-1327]; REMS, 1309-10 [see infra].

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3, lists works [1431]: Lighting-Up Time (Tower Press Booklets, 3rd ser. (Dublin;Orwell Press 1938); Poems (Dolmen 1974); B[rian] Fallon, ed. Padraic Fallon, Poems and Versions (Carcanet; Raven Arts 1983); Collected Poems, intro. Seamus Heaney (Gallery/Carcanet 1990). Further, Declan Kiberd writes at some length in editorial essay (‘Contemporary Irish Poetry’ 1309ff), the most important of the poets whose natural relationship is with what might be described as the ecumenical aspect of the Revival ... to whom Raftery and Yeats are equally accessible ... mobilised the vision of Sigerson, Rolleston, and others in his poetry, something they had been unable to do themselves ... achieved a fusion of Irish religious and Irish political experience that would go beyond an exclusively nationalistic narrative ... extend the regional to the European horizon and in that he too recognised that catholicism provided the obvious cultural bonding with the continent ... addresses the Virgin in several poems ... in his later work he broods on his own parents, his childhood, the death of his poet-friends.... always a touch of the sardonic ... avoids the Yeatsian annunciations on the supremacy of the imagination and of art [but] it is man’s destiny to be creative [though] in doing so he does not possess the world ... does not concede to the trauma of Yeats’s despair ... found a voice neither strident with national or personal destiny nor resigned to the sweet pasturalisms of national insularity.’ (p.1310).

Patrick Crotty, ed., Modern Irish Poetry: An Anthology (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 1995), selects “A Flask of Brandy” [50]; “Kiltartan Legend” [51]; “Years at Athenry Perhaps” [52]; from “Three Houses”, I: “Gurteen” [55]; “A Bit of Brass” [57].

Helena Sheehan, Irish Television Drama, A Society and Its Stories (RTE 1987), lists television film, Fenians, The, Padraic Fallon / dir. James Plunkett (1966).

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Kuno Meyer’s trans. of Aislinge meic Conglinne or The Vision of Mac Conglinne (1892); for others, see under Meyer.

Benedict Kiely writes of Raftery’s song of Mary Hynes: ‘Yeats and Stephens tried to echo it in English. Padraic Fallon has succeeded where they failed.’ (Poor Scholar, 1947, p.153; ftn.)

Kith & Kin
All the Fallons ..

Padraic Fallon (poet); Conor Fallon ( sculptor); Niall Fallon (Irish Times Asst. Ed. and author of Lusitania); Padraic Fallon Ed. of Euromoney, London; 1946-2102); Ivan Fallon (Sunday Times Dep. Ed. & dir. of Independent Newspapers [UK] in South Africa.

Ivan Fallon was for many years one of the leading financial journalists in Britain. He was City editor of the Sunday Telegraph and deputy editor and business editor of the Sunday Times, and was twice named Financial Journalist of the Year. He was CEO of Independent News & Media UK until 2010. His previous books have included the bestsellers Billionaire: The Life and Times of James Goldsmith and The Brothers: The Rise & Rise of Saatchi & Saatchi. (BackBite Publishing - online.)

See obituaries of Niall Fallon (d.1996) in The Irish Times (27 Jan. 1996) - online; also Conor Fallon (1939-2007), in The Irish Times (16 Nov. 2007) - online; Padraic Fallon (1946-2102) in The Independent [UK (16 Oct. 2012) - online.

N.B. Peter Fallon, the poet and publisher [infra] is not related.

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