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The poet Patrick Kavanagh is one of Ireland's favourite literary figures with famous works including On Raglan Road and the Great Hunger. In November, Kavanagh is commemorated with the annual Patrick Kavanagh Weekend in the poet's hometown.
Patrick Kavanagh was born on 21st October 1904 in the small rural town of Inniskeen in Co. Monaghan, the son of a cobbler and small hold farmer. Kavanagh moved to Dublin during the 1930s, but his rural roots were to inspire his writings. Kavanagh's country ways and rustic imagery often invited scathing mockery from Dublin's literary elite, but they undoubtedly won over the people, in a way that other poets didn't. In 2000 the Irish Times newspaper rated Kavanagh as Ireland's second favourite poet, behind W.B. Yeats and of the nation's favourite fifty poems, ten were penned by Patrick Kavanagh.
Among Kavanagh's best known works are the Great Hunger, an epic poem reflecting the sexual repression of the Irish farmer and On Raglan Road, written in Dublin in 1946 and popularised in the songs of Van Morrison, Luke Kelly of the Dubliners, Mark Knopfler, Billy Bragg and Sinead O'Connor.
Patrick Kavanagh died on 30th November 1967 and is laid to rest in the town of his birth, Inniskeen. The poet is commemorated in Ireland with the National Patrick Kavanagh Day in July and the Annual Patrick Kavanagh Weekend, on the last weekend of November with a programme of events, literary tours, storytelling and readings held in Inniskeen, welcoming visitors from around the world.
Kavanagh devotees visiting Inniskeen should stop by the Patrick Kavanagh Centre, which houses exhibitions on the life and works of the poet and on local history. The centre also runs hugely entertaining tours along the Kavanagh Trail which takes in many local sites immortalised by Kavanagh's poems such as Tarry Flynn and the Green Fool, with a few amusing anecdotes and readings along the way.
And if you find yourself strolling along the banks of the Grand Canal in Dublin, look out for a statue of Patrick Kavanagh, seated on a bench deep in his creative muse.