Death of writer of 'Raggy Boy' trilogy Patrick Galvin at 83


THE DEATH has occurred of writer Patrick Galvin, who had been ill since a stroke in 2003.

Galvin, born in 1927 in Cork city’s Margaret Street, spent almost all of his working life devoted to literature and culture.

Much of it was influenced by the dreadful time he spent in the infamous Daingean Reformatory School in Co Offaly as a teenager.

Galvin was a poet, playwright, songwriter and writer of memoir. He is best-known for his Raggy Boytrilogy.

The first, Song for a Poor Boy, recorded his impoverished childhood; Song for a Raggy Boyfocused on his time in Daingean; and Song for a Fly Boywas about his experiences with the RAF in the second World War.

In 2003, the year he had the stroke, Song for a Raggy Boywas made into a high-profile film starring Aidan Quinn.

His first book of poems, Heart of Grace, was published in 1957.

He was also an accomplished ballad singer, with a distinctive tenor voice, who recorded nine albums.

He was mentored by famous uilleann piper Séamus Ennis.

His ballad James Connollywas taken up by Christy Moore to become one of the best-known modern Irish ballads.

Among his best-known plays were Nightfall in Belfast, The Last Burning,and We Do It for Love.

In the 1960s, then archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid was so exercised by Cry the Believers, a play about the Catholic Church, that he sent someone in secret to report back on it.

“With its unending carping about the Church and the clergy”, the ensuing lengthy report concluded, it was not a play “to which young, impressionable minds could be exposed without risk to faith”.

In the early 1990s, Galvin was writer in residence at Dún Laoghaire in Dublin.

He became involved in setting up the Poetry Now festival, which held its concluding festival this year.

He was also the founder of the Munster Literature Centre in Cork city, and a member of Aosdána.