The poet, playwright and RTÉ broadcaster Vincent Woods pays tribute to his fellow writer, Anthony Cronin, who died aged 88 on Wednesday December 28.

I was privileged to interview Anthony Cronin twice in the space of a few months in 2014, the first a public interview at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin, the second a studio interview for Arts Tonight on RTÉ Radio 1.

I had known Anthony for many years and greatly admired the man, the writer and the writing. Nonetheless, it was a pleasure to re-read Dead as Doornails, The Life of Riley and Cronin's austere, formal, questing poems in preparation for our two conversations.

Anthony was physically diminished in older age but his spirit, spark, memory and deep intelligence were unchanged, and he dived into each interview like a champion swimmer into a challenge of water. His charm and generosity shone through on both occasions and I was struck by his attentive response to questions from audience members in the National Library, his close consideration of each issue, his linking of things, his humour, and his courage in speaking out to defend the memory of Charles Haughey and in passionately asserting the importance of the arts and the artist in Irish society.

Anthony read from his poems on both occasions and his words rang with a tuneful stillness and power. I value those two meetings, and the space we shared.

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