Ciaran O’Driscoll


Life
1943- ; b. Kilkenny; son of civil servant and disappointed writer; former Franciscan; lives and teaches in Limerick; The Poet and His Shadow (Dedalus 1990); The Old Woman of Magione (Dedalus ?1997), a fourth collection, based on visits to Italy; winner of first Kavanagh Fellowship, an award of Ir£5,000 drawn from royalties of the estate and presented in the names of the both the poet and his wife, Feb. 2000;
 
issued A Runner Among Falling Leaves (2001), reflecting on his relationship with his father, a teacher, whose mental and physical abuse affected him profoundly throughout his life (‘the feelings do not age’); also Moving On, Still There: New & Selected Poems (Dublin: Dedalus Press 2001); also Life Monitor (2010).

 

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Works
Poetry collections
  • [With Andrew Elliott & Leon McAuley], Trio 4 (Belfast: Blackstaff 1985), 69pp.;
  • Gog and Magog (Upper Fairhill: Salmon 1987), 48pp.;
  • Listening to Different Drummers (Dublin: Dedalus Press; Manchester: Password 1993), 88pp.;
  • The Old Women of Magione (Dublin: Dedalus Press 1997), 66pp. ;
  • Moving On, Still There: New & Selected Poems (Dublin: Dedalus Press 2001), 155pp.;
  • Life Monitor (Three Spires Press 2010), 61pp.
Autobiography
A Runner Among Falling Leaves (Liverpool UP 2001), 174pp.

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Commentary
Gerald Dawe, reviewing A Runner Among Falling Leaves, in [q. source], quotes from ‘this shocking memoir’: ‘My father’s is the story of a man torn by his own internal contradictions and the postcolonial and other contradictions of his society: an artist who could not imagine himself without a permanent pensionable job in the public service of a recently independent state, firstly because the public service was his mother’s definition of reality for him, and secondly because he very quickly found himself lumbered with a good Catholic uncontracepted family of six.’ Also quotes O’Driscoll on his grandmother: ‘A grim woman, in the mould of her generation, who had witnessed the Black and Tans and the Civil War and in whose memory the Famine loomed large from childhood stories.’

Gerald Dawe [q. source] - cont.: ‘To express discontent would have been to fly in the face of God and man. Those who had more were to be shown the respect due to their station, but those like my father who aspired to something better were foolish, and indeed to be despised. There was a respect that came from accepting one’s lot.’ Dawe quotes a passage in which the author is talking in a pub with his father about the gloom of returned manuscripts and is fervently and repeatedly told, ‘Don’t give up!’ Dawe regards the book as ‘an important document, well-written, brisk, unfooled […] mak[ing] frank and poetic observations of the intersection between personal desire and cultural possibilities’ […&c.]

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