Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Tributes pour in as poetry hero Patrick Galvin dies, aged 83

One of the country's most influential poets and writers, Patrick Galvin, has died at the age of 83.

Literary colleagues yesterday paid tribute to the prolific writer, best known for his three-part memoir which inspired the 2003 film 'Song for a Raggy Boy', starring Aidan Quinn.

In the trilogy, Galvin chroniciled his life -- first as a young boy in Cork, where he was born in 1927, then at a reform school in Daingean, Co Offaly, and, finally, as a serviceman with the RAF.

Yesterday, fellow poet Theo Dorgan described the man he called "Paddy" as his "boyhood hero", adding that he admired him both for his firmly left-of-centre political views and the truth of his literary voice.

"Together with Frank O'Connor, he was probably the truest voice out of Cork. The music of the place was so powerful in his work," he said.

Dorgan added that he was also one of the wittiest men he had ever met, with a "surreal sense of humour".

Galvin was married four times and divorced three times. He had two daughters and three sons, one of whom was the late showbusiness writer Patrick Newley (1955--2009).

Galvin's second wife was the novelist Stella Hagan, daughter of the communist writer TA Jackson.

Cork poet Thomas McCarthy said "he was a superstar of our generation" and a "great watchtower and gatekeeper in terms of poetry".

Describing his old friend as "a statuesque man, with great presence", McCarthy said he first found fame as a revolutionary playwright among the London Irish in the 1950s.

Galvin's poetry collections include 'Heart of Grace' (1957), 'Christ In London' (1960), 'The Woodburners' (1973), 'Man On The Porch' (1980), 'Folktales For The General' (1990) and 'The Death of Art O'Leary' (1992).

His plays include 'And Him Stretched', 'Cry The Believers', 'Nightfall To Belfast' and 'My Silver Bird'.

He wrote seven plays for radio and recorded seven albums of Irish ballads. Both Christy Moore and John Spillane put some of his poems to music.

Moore became such a fan that, at his insistence, Galvin joined him on stage at the annual 'Live at the Marquee' series in Cork.

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