Dublin-born poet Harry Clifton has been announced as the new Ireland Professor of Poetry.

The announcement was made by Taoisaeach Brian Cowen at a gathering this evening at Newman House.

Mr Clifton, who spent many years living and working abroad before returning to Dublin to teach at UCD in 2004, said his appointment was a ‘huge honour and totally unexpected.’

His collections of poems include ‘The Desert Route; Selected Poems 1973-1988’ and ‘Secular Eden; Paris Notebooks 1994-2004’.

His work has been translated into several languages and he has received many awards.

Mr Clifton takes over the position from Michael Longley, who was the fourth Ireland Professor of Poetry.

The position was established in 1998 by the Art Council, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, Queen's University, Belfast, and University College Dublin.

The role was created following the award of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Seamus Heaney, in order to honour his achievement and that of other Irish poets.

The Chair is tenable for 3 years, during which time Mr Clifton will be attached to the three universities in turn and will give lectures and readings to the public.