Wife and muse of poet Micheal O’Siadhail
Bríd O’Siadhail: Born: Feb 28th, 1942; died: June 17th, 2013
Bríd O’Siadhail (née Ní Chearbhaill), who was from Gaoth Dobhair in Donegal, lived most of her life in Dublin married to the poet Micheal O’Siadhail, and for some years as teacher and then principal in a city primary school.
Colleagues and former pupils all describe her as a superb and much-loved teacher. She taught in the national school in Killeshandra, Co Cavan before moving to Goldenbridge in Dublin. Later she became principal at Scoil Chaoimhín in Marlborough Street.
Living with Parkinson’s
Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease as a young woman, Bríd had to take early retirement in 1997 after just two years as principal.
From the beginning, when they met in September 1969, she was Micheal’s muse. They married in early July 1970 as soon as Bríd got her summer holidays, and the couple were together for 44 years.
Her grace, spirit and energy helped inspire many of his poems. His collection Love Life is devoted entirely to her.
It is described by the couple’s long-time friend Prof David Ford as “by far the most difficult of all his collections for her”. He says “we owe Bríd an immense debt of gratitude for allowing it to be published. It has been, I think, their most generous act of joint hospitality, welcoming us into their marriage, with its passions, routines, heights, depths, rows and intimacies”.
Although her mobility was curtailed in later years, she and Micheal were a sociable and striking couple. Cutting a dash at theatre opening nights, Bríd dressed with characteristic flair and elegance.
Poems about Bríd are scattered across her husband’s 13 collections. According to Ford, she became perhaps the most written about woman in Ireland. But she was also O’Siadhail’s first reader. He never published any poem she had reservations about and always relied on her discernment and judgment.
“She had a beautiful presence, a curiosity and an interest in everything – in painting, in literature, in people,” recalled Mick O’Dea, RHA, who painted Bríd in 2009.
She is survived by her husband, Micheal, her sister, Áine, brothers Anton, Francie and Pádraig, sisters-in-law, nephews and nieces.