Brian McCabe remembers the late Brendan Kennelly


For those of us who spent any time walking around Dublin 2 – and particularly the hallowed precincts of Trinity College – during lunch time, in the 1990s, the smiling face and genial demeanor of Brendan Kennelly was a regular, and welcome, sight.

Brendan was one of Ireland’s best-known, and best-loved, poets and his many appearances on both radio and television, including several on ‘The ‘Late Late Show’, endeared him to the nation. He was the very opposite of the aloof intellectual or the dour poet, and the humour and humanity in his many poems made them accessible to all.
His open manner and ready wit made him the perfect subject for any interviewer.

A proud Kerryman, Brendan was born in Ballylongford in 1936 – was one of eight children of Tim Kennelly and Bridie (Ahern). His father worked as a publican and garage proprietor (indeed he often used to joke that he was a poet who grew up in a pub) and his mother was a nurse. He received his early education at the inter-denominational St. Ita’s College in Tarbert.

Like many (most?) Kerrymen, Brendan had an early interest in Gaelic football. In fact, he was quite a useful player and was a member of a Kerry minor team which played in an All-Ireland final against Dublin in 1954. Unfortunately, that was not a happy match for him as he was deemed to have fouled the Dublin player he was marking, and gave away a penalty which was instrumental in Kerry losing the match.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own