Launch of the Annual Patrick Kavanagh Weekend 2017 – 29 September 2017
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here tonight in Inniskeen to launch the Annual Patrick Kavanagh Weekend for 2017 and celebrate one of Monaghan’s greatest sons – Patrick Kavanagh.
I wish in particular to thank Art Agnew, Chair of the Patrick Kavanagh Centre, and Brian Lynch, President of the Kavanagh Society, for their work in putting together an exciting weekend of events.
It is remarkable to think that the Patrick Kavanagh Society is now in its 46th year. You should be extremely proud!
Thank you also to Rosaleen Kearney and the Centre’s staff, and to the Inniskeen Enterprise Development Committee, whose commitment to Kavanagh’s legacy is truly inspiring.
I am particularly honoured to be here on the 50th anniversary of Kavanagh’s death when we – as a nation – are rediscovering the power of art to transform our lives.
Kavanagh’s poetry inspires us to take courage in our own experiences, reminding us that nothing is too trivial, too commonplace or too ordinary.
That is one of the reasons why the Government launched the Creative Ireland Programme late last year – to empower artists and communities through additional supports – and place culture and creativity at the heart of public policy.
The Monaghan Culture and Creativity Plan for 2017, which I launched earlier this year as part of the Creative Ireland Programme, re-emphasised for me personally the importance of Monaghan’s cultural assets.
Kavanagh said that ‘ordinary things wear lovely wings’.
And all of us here tonight are conscious that the Patrick Kavanagh Centre has not only become embedded in this community, but also achieved universal appeal beyond these shores.
I am delighted, therefore, to announce that this Centre will shortly be closed to allow major refurbishment work to be carried out.
This refurbishment is a joint undertaking between the Patrick Kavanagh Centre, my Department and Monaghan County Council to maintain and strengthen the Kavanagh legacy.
This Church, which was Kavanagh’s place of worship, and where he and his wife are buried, is of course immortalised in his classic novel, “Tarry Flynn”.
The refurbishment will respect this heritage but also bring the Centre into the modern era of apps, digital content and interactive media.
This will ensure that Kavanagh’s story is told to a new, computer-savvy generation.
Later tonight the winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award, sponsored this year by The Dublin Institute of Education will be announced.
One of the highlights on Sunday will be the announcement of the School’s Poetry Award for primary schools locally, and for junior and senior students nationwide, including Northern Ireland.
An exciting programme of talks and events have also been planned for the weekend.
One such example is Professor Diarmuid Ferriter’s keynote address “Irishmen, as a rule make poor lovers”, which I am sure will be most enlightening!
We look forward to hearing his conclusion on this important matter!
Meanwhile, Dr. Susan Hegarty will explore the physical landscape of the townlands that inspired Kavanagh.
As the man wrote himself:
…O Monaghan hills when is writ your story
A carbon copy will unfold my being’.
Being a proud Monaghan woman myself, I can identify with this connection to the landscape.
Patrick Kanvanagh was nothing if not brutally honest in both his life and work, even during times when truthfulness was resented.
That, I believe, is why his work resonates with so many of us.
It is also why we are here tonight to celebrate this man, this poet, this landscape…and these Monaghan hills!