Dermot Healy's dedicated readers are today lamenting the passing of one of Ireland’s most original and expressive contemporary writers, who has died aged 66. Seamus Heaney called him the heir to Patrick Kavanagh.
Born in Finea, County Westmeath in 1947, he was reared in counties Cavan and Sligo and, aside from a spell in London, lived in Ireland, his natural territory of inspiration, for most of his life.
His first book, Banished Misfortune, a collection of short stories published in 1982 established his reputation.
As a writer, his instinct was to the poetic and daring, quite unlike John McGahern, who tended to a sense of formal restraint. But the County Sligo-based writer treated his work with equal care and fastidious attention.
The novel, A Goat’s Song appeared in 1994 and is regarded by many as his masterpiece, being the story of the doomed love affair between an an alcoholic playwright and an actress.Healy published five collections of poetry throughout his life-time
The 1999 novel, Sudden Times deals with the writer’s time in a London, while Healy’s memoir, The Bend for Home, is regarded by some as the best Irish memoir published in the 20th century.
Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has expressed his deep sorrow at the death of the renowned novelist, playwright and poet. He has offered his condolences to his wife, Helen, his two children and to his many friends.
"It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Dermot Healy," declared the Minister. “His was a wonderful talent. Widely regarded as one of our finest contemporary writers, Dermot will be remembered alongside the greatest Irish writers of any age.
"Through his writings and his poetry, Dermot was an inspiration to many, and his loss will be keenly felt by us all. I would like to express my deepest sympathy to his wife Helen, his two children and all of his family and friends. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”