Brendan Kennelly is one of Ireland’s most distinguished poets, as well as a dramatist, critic, renowned teacher and cultural commentator. Born in 1936 in Ballylongford, Co. Kerry, he was Professor of Modern Literature at Trinity College, Dublin from 1973 until his retirement in 2005. He is a much loved public figure in Ireland, and was a popular guest on television programmes. Most of his work is concerned with the people, landscapes, wild-life and history of Ireland, and with language, religion and politics.
In 2007 he had a fellowship at Boston College in the US. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed him at his flat on Chestnut Hill on an extraordinarily hot day. He knows hundreds of poems by heart, and wanted to read his selection in one take. The first poem, ‘Love Cry’ is from a sequence of sonnets with that title, and is followed by ‘I See You Dancing, Father’ and ‘Bread’. The next poem, ‘Raglan Lane’, is his response to Patrick Kavanagh’s ‘On Raglan Road’, and has been sung by Mary Black and others (to the tune of ‘The Dawning of the Day’). The last poem, ‘Begin’, was written on recovery from serious illness and widely circulated amongst Irish Americans in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. This film is from the DVD-anthology IN PERSON: 30 POETS, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2008).