In Iniskeen, Co Monaghan, the weather forecast predicted Thursday would be 4 degrees with showers (37 per cent chance of precipitation) and a bit of a breeze. Somehow, these seemed appropriate conditions for an occasion at the graveside of Patrick Kavanagh, marking the anniversary of his death.
Some of of Ireland’s finest writers and poets gathered to pay tribute to Kavanagh on the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death. A spine-tingling tribute was forecast, and it sounded like the weather played ball.
Nine of Kavanagh's best-loved works, including Father Mat, Stony Grey Soil and Shancoduff were recited by writers including Pat McCabe, Theo Dorgan, John McArdle, and Caitríona Ní Chléirchín, in an event was open to world via live streaming.
Organised by Monaghan County Council and the Patrick Kavanagh Resource Centre in Inniskeen, Thursday's event marked the poet's status in Ireland and globally, with a focus on his homeland and the small, rural community of Inniskeen, where the poet was born in Mucker townland in October 21st 1904, and is buried.
The graveside tribute included members of the Kavanagh family and Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys.
His work was read by John McArdle (Stony Grey Soil); Caitriona Ní Chleircin (In Mempory of My Mother); Eugene McCabe (Come Dance with Kitty Stobling); Evelyn Conlon (Bluebells for Love); Pat McCabe (Father Mat); Mary O'Donnell (Advent); Tommy McArdle (Innocence/Prelude); Theo Dorgan (Memory of my Father); and Brian Lynch (Thank You, Thank You), with Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn playing uileann pipes.
The Patrick Kavanagh Resource Centre in Inniskeen is in the former St. Mary's church, in whose adjoining graveyard Kavanagh is buried. It was opened by former president Mary Robinson in 1994, when she said: "Let us remember him as he deserves to be remembered: not as an ornament to our literature - although he certainly is that - but as a poet who is still living among us, through his powerful and challenging poems and the force of his artistic conscience."