Sean O'Riordan Lecture Theatre
Sean O Riordain (1916-1977) Poet and journalist
One of the most important Irish Language poets in the twentieth century.
Born in Ballyvourney, Co Cork; educated locally and in Cork City, where the family moved on the death of his father in 1932. Though Irish was spoken in Ballyvourney where O'Riordain was growing up, English was the language of the home as his mother knew no Irish. This break with the past later came to symbolise a fundamental aspect of his sense of alienation from his true self, one of the most important themes in his poetry.
On leaving school he worked as a clerk with Cork City Council. Diagnosed with Tuberculosis in 1938, he spent long periods in hospital over the rest of his life, and his illness had a central influence on his poetry. In accordance with the medical practice of the time, a room was constructed for him at the rear of the family home, separating him from his family and the outside world. This confined space is a constant metaphor for the dark interior mindspace that is the locus of most of his poetry. He began writing a diary, his 'fight against death', in 1940 and continued with it until five days before he died. His mother's death in 1945, commemorated in his superb innovatory poem 'Adhlacadh mo Mhathar', affected him deeply and left him living alone in the family home.
His first collection, 'Eireaball Spideoige' (1952) at once grounded in Irish tradition and thoroughly modernist in sensibility and tone, revolutionised poetry in Irish. The poems both individually and as an integrated aesthetic statement seek to answer fundamental questions about the nature of human existence and the place of the individual in a universe without meaning. In the Ireland of the Mother and Child Scheme this was a courageous non serviam, all the more so for being in Irish. The book was haughtily dismissed by Maire Mhac An Tsaoi in two reviews as being merely 'the common scruples of conscience of an ordinary Catholic' and moreover, as being narrated in a discourse that was "non-Gaelic". These reviews upset O'Riordain deeply and he did not publish his second collection, 'Brosna', until 1964. He had spent much time during the intervening period in the Dingle Peninsula and 'Brosna' is dedicated to the people of Dunquin, where, in his celebrated poem 'Fill Aris', he claims one can find "d'intinn fein is do chlo ceart"; (your own mind and true self).
In 1965 he retired from his employment with Cork City Council on health grounds and in 1969, at the instigation of Sean O'Tuama, he was appointed a part-time lecturer in Irish at UCC where he seminally influenced the INNTI generation of poets. Other collections are 'Linte Liombo' (1971) and the posthumous 'Tar Eis Mo Bhais' (1978). From 1968 onwards he also wrote a regular and often controversial column for the Irish Times. His unpublished diaries now in the UCD library in which most of his poetry is interspersed reveal an original, creative, insightful, opinionated mind constantly searching for some measure of light in a dark world.
Seán Ó Ríordáin (1916 – 1977) File
Bhí an Ríordánach ar cheann de na filí Gaeilge is tábhachtaí a mahair san fhichiú haois. Rugadh i mBaile Bhuirne, Co. Chorcaí é agus cuireadh oideachas air ansin agus I gCathair Chorcaím áit ar bhog a mhuintir tar éis bhás a athar I 1932. Híodh an ghaeilge a labhairt I mBaile Bhuirne agus Ó Ríordáin ag fás aníos ann ach Béarla a bhí mar teanga chumarsáide sa teaglach toic nach raibh Gaeilge ag a mháthair.
Nuair a chríochnaigh sé sa scoil, d’oibrigh sé mar chléireach le Comhairle Cathrach Chorcaí. Tugadh faoi deara i 1938 go raibh eitninn air agus chaith sé tréimshí fada dá shaol san ospidéal ó am go ham don chuid eile dá shaol agus bhí éifeacht lárnach ag an tinneas seo ar a chuid filíochta. De réir cleachtais leighis ag an am, tógadh seomra speisialta dó ar chúl an tí, áit a coimeádtaí amach ón gclann é agus ón ndomhan taobh amuigh. Feidhmíonn an spas cúng seo mar mheafar leanúnach don dorchadas sa spas inmheánach intinne ar a bhfuil cuid mhór dá chuid filíochta bunaithe. Thosaugh sé ag scríobh dialainne, a “chaith in aghaidh an bháis” i 1940 agus lean sé ag scríobh go dtí cúig lá sular cailleadh é.
D’fhág bás a mháthar i 1945, rud atá comórtha ina dhán iontach nuálach “Adhlacadh mo Mháthar”, a rian go domhain air agus d’fhág ina chónaí sa bhaile ina aonar é. Bhí feidhm faoi Leith ag a chéad chnuasach Eireaball Spideoige (1952) a bhí fréamhaithe sa traidisiún Gaelach ach a bhí nua-aoiseach i gciall agus ina ghlór. Chuir sé tús le réabhlóid I bhfilíocht na Gaeilge. Bhí sé ina gcuspóir ag na dánta seo, iad ina n-aonar agus mar chuid de ráiteas comhtháite aeistéithiúil, le freagraí a aimsiú ar bhuncheisteanna ar an nádur a bhaineann le saol an duine agus suíomh an duine i gcruinne gan brí. In Éirinn an “Scéim Mháthar agus Linbh” is non serviam misniúil a bhí ann, agus é níos misniúla fós toisc go raibh sé i nGaeilge. Rinne Máire Mhac an tSaoi neamhaird dána den leabhar i bpéire léirmheas a scríobh sí, áit a dúradh nach raibh sa leabhar ach “scupaill chomónta i gcoinsias ghnáthchaitliceach”