Originally published in 2017, we're revisiting this archive interview with poet Brendan Kennelly by way of tribute to the incomparable Ballybunion bard, who has died aged 85 - listen below.
When you’re Ryan Tubridy and you’re wandering around the Wild Atlantic Way for the week, you tend to meet a lot of people. You even meet people who tell you you should meet other people.
So it was that Ryan was in Ballybunion last night and met a man who told him that the poet Brendan Kennelly was living nearby. Ryan said he’d love to meet him and – hey presto! – the next thing you know, the great poet is sitting in front of him, ready to let Ryan know all about his enduring love for Kerry.
"The Dubs always called me a culdub – I have split my life between Dublin and Kerry and I love both."
A 'culdub' – that’s a new one on me – apparently it’s a culchie Dubliner, someone who’s both from the country and from the capital. Kennelly spent 44 years of his life in Dublin, but Kerry has always been his homeplace. By way of illustration, he recited a verse from Sigerson Clifford’s poem I Am Kerry, in which the poet, though seated on an office chair in Dublin, proclaims his undying Kerryness. "And the irony is," Kennelly says to Ryan, and you can hear the lilt in his voice as he says it, "Sigerson Clifford was born in Cork."
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Listen: Ryan Tubridy in Ballybunion with Brendan Kennelly
Kennelly comes from a little village near Ballybunion called Ballylongford. And in it, he told Ryan, was born The O'Rahilly, another Kerryman who went to Dublin (He’s got a lot of little nuggets of information like this).
One of the things he has always loved about Kerry, Kennelly told Ryan, is encouragement, something which, he cautioned, "co-exists with reminding you of something you weren’t so proud of yourself". By way of illustration, Kennelly told a terrific story about playing against Dublin in the Minor All-Ireland in Croke Park in 1954 and how he was tasked with marking Dublin’s Vinny Bell, (who later, Brendan adds as another nugget, went on to be head of Howth Golf Club). I won’t spoil it here, have a listen above, it’s a goodie.
For more from the Ryan Tubridy Show, click here.