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Statement by President Michael D. Higgins on the death of Máire Mhac an tSaoi

Date: Sun 17th Oct, 2021 | 17:18

"It is with great sadness that the Irish language community will have learned of the death of Irish scholar, acclaimed writer, member of Aosdána and one of the leading Irish language poets of the twentieth century, Máire Mhac an tSaoi. 
Proud of her roots in Kerry, Máire Mhac an tSaoi was born in 1922 to Margaret Browne MacEntee and the politician and future Tánaiste Seán MacEntee. A woman of immense talent and one of our most gifted, creative writers, she made a profound and distinctive contribution to our society in terms of literature, diplomacy and above all poetry. 
Her fearless, powerful and intriguing personality led her to defy established convention and expectations in a unique way. A prolific writer she had a lifelong, and contagious, passion for the Irish language, and for the people of the Gaeltacht. 
While in her poetry she drew on the traditions of the Celtic Revival by giving voice to her own experiences, passion, skills and views, she made a distinctive personal contribution at a high level to Irish poetry, making her one of the most influential poets of the 20th century. I recall, for example, her keen critical judgement in her edition of Poetry Ireland.
Máire Mhac an tSaoi received many awards throughout her illustrious career including the O’Shaughnessy Poetry Award of the Irish American Cultural Institute, the D. Lit Celt honoris causa award and was elected to Aosdána in 1996. 
A pioneer in the Irish diplomatic service, she served as one of the few female diplomats of her generation. Along with her husband, the late Conor Cruise O’Brien, she was replete with courage and an inspiration to many.
She will be sadly missed by all those, through the generations, who knew her and her work and, above all, by those who appreciate the Irish language and the power its words.
Sabina and I wish to express our deepest sympathies to her children, Patrick and Margaret, her step-daughter Fedelma and to her family and wide circle of friends.

Siochán siorraí do a hanam uasal.”