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Three Irish Poets - Introduction

Updated Thursday, 20th August 2015

A look at three female Irish Poets – Ellen O'Leary, Katharine Tynan and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill.

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Ellen o'Leary, Katharine Tynan and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Image of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill: Paul Sherwood/The Gallery Press. Others: Public Domain

In this collection of articles we look at three female Irish poets. The first two - Ellen O’Leary (1831-1889) and Katharine Tynan (1859-1931) - wrote in English. Though these poets are not very widely known today, they were extremely popular and influential during their lifetimes especially in Irish nationalist circles. The poet W.B. Yeats admired and promoted the work of both women.

The third writer- Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (b.1952 ) - is a contemporary poet writing in Irish. Her work is widely acclaimed and has been translated by many leading English-language poets.

We will look at a single poem by each writer. We hope you will find the poems enjoyable in themselves, as well as giving you an opportunity to explore how this poetry addresses various ideas about nation and gender in an Irish context. We also start to look at how poetic language can shape reader responses and notions of identity.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of these articles, you should have:

  • gained introductory knowledge of three women poets important for the development of Irish literature
  • started to appreciate how poets address questions of gender and nationality through their use of literary form and language
  • started to think about how a poem can give rise to diverse interpretations



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