Poet's siblings welcome removal of 'offensive statement'


SIBLINGS OF Galway poet Rita Ann Higgins have responded to confirmation this week that the first print run of her new book had to be shredded, due to objections by one of her brothers.

A response signed by eight members of the Higgins family and issued yesterday said they were “pleased to learn that an offensive statement concerning our mother and untrue statements concerning other family members, have been removed from Rita Ann’s new book”.

“We regret that the book had to be reprinted,“they stated. “This situation could easily have been avoided had the facts been checked with the family members concerned. It saddens us to have to issue this statement and we will not be commenting any further on this matter,” they said.

The response was signed by John, Joe, Bartley, Mary, Martin, Dominic, Bernadette and Carmel Higgins. Three of the poet’s siblings did not sign the statement.

An amended reprint of Ms Higgins’s new book of prose and poetry, entitled Hurting God, is to be launched in Galway’s Town Hall Theatre at 2pm today by bookseller Des Kenny.

Salmon Publishing says it lost several thousand euro, when it had to shred the original 900 copies. Ms Higgins told The Irish Timesearlier this week that she was disappointed that her brother, Joe, had objected to an anecdote related in the first essay.

An exchange of correspondence with Mr Higgins resulted in Jessie Lendennie of Salmon Poetry publishing house deciding to destroy the original first print run, and amend the text. All family names associated with the author were also deleted.

Ms Higgins, founder of J Higgins Engineering, has been a successful businessman and has served as chairman of Galway Airport. He developed a number of interests after he sold his business, and owns a Co Meath stud farm among other properties.

He received an honorary degree from NUI Galway some years ago. Ms Higgins noted that her brother had asked her on that occasion to write a piece to mark the occasion.

Ms Higgins said yesterday that all family members had been invited to today’s launch.