Mourners pay tribute to poet Patrick Galvin


CORK’S CONNOLLY Hall provided a fitting venue for mourners to pay tribute to poet and playwright Patrick Galvin yesterday, on the 95th anniversary of his hero James Connolly’s death.

The maverick writer became the first to lie in repose at the trade union headquarters, as a steady stream of musicians, artists, writers and poets arrived to pay their respects.

His remains were carried through the streets of his native Cork from his Douglas home in a horse-drawn carriage, echoing a line from The Madwoman of Cork, one of his best-known poems:

I saw a horse without a head

Carrying the dead

To the graveyard

Near Turner’s Cross.

“He was an amazing man, a renaissance man. In my estimation he was able to cross the lines of so many disciplines and score. He was a true maverick,” his wife, Mary Johnson Galvin, said.

Mourners listened to Galvin’s voice reciting his poetry as he lay in an open casket, a half-dozen roses at his intertwined fingers.

A slide show of images replayed the many memorable moments of his lifetime, and posters documenting his life’s work adorned the walls.

“Hopefully this honours him in the way he would have wanted,” Ms Johnson Galvin said.

He lived a “fantastic quality of life”, despite suffering a stroke that left him wheelchair-bound in 2003, and his voracious appetite for literature and documentaries never faltered.

“The hardest job with him was keeping his mind stimulated. He wanted to write, though his arm would not let him, but he did plenty in his days,” Ms Johnson Galvin said.

His artist daughter, Gráinne Galvin, described him an a brilliant dad and an inspiration.

“He was a bit of genius. I feel incredibly lucky to have had a father like him,” she said.

Friends paid tribute to Galvin as an inspirational figure, principled, yet modest, accomplished and encouraging of emerging talent.

Historian and author Donal Ó Drisceoil said Galvin had an incredible sense of history. “You could rely on him always; he kept the drive and spirit of resistance and rebellion alive in Cork.

“He was an inspiring character, committed to his work and so principled, yet so humble.”

Galvin was writer in residence at University College Cork in the 1990s.

Galvin’s long-time friend Christy Moore is expected to join a number of colleagues and friends to pay tribute to the late poet at today’s cremation ceremony in Ringaskiddy.