The writer Francis Stuart has died at his home in County Clare, aged 97. Mr Stuart held the position of Saoi, the highest honour which the arts body, Aosdana, can bestow on an artist. He was the author of more than 30 novels.

He was born in Australia but returned to Ireland following the death of his father. As a young poet in the 20s he married Iseult MacBride, daughter of Maude Gonne and sister of Sean MacBride. He was encouraged in his early poetry by Yeats.

During the Irish Civil war he fought on the Republican side with de Valera. He broadcast to Ireland from Germany during World War II.

The poet Maire Mac An tSaoi tried to have him thrown out of Aosdana over his alleged collusion with Naziism.

Last year, Mr Stuart settled a libel action against the Irish Times, which had carried remarks implying that he was anti-Semitic because of what he had written in a book. The remarks were made following the elevation of Mr Stuart to the position of Saoi two years ago.