Seán Ó Ríordáin (1916-77) was born in the breacGhaeltacht village of Baile Bhúirne, Co. Cork and moved to Inis Cara, on the outskirts of Cork city at the age of 15, following the death of his father from TB four years earlier. Ó Ríordáin himself was diagnosed with TB at the age of 20, not long after he had begun working as a clerk in Cork City Hall. After resigning from his position due to illness in 1965, he contributed a regular column to the Irish Times in which he wrote critically and satirically about language, literature and culture. He also provided a sharp critique of government policies that reneged on the State’s commitment to its professed ideals, with greater vehemence as the Troubles in the six counties of Northern Ireland worsened during the 1970s. An occasional lecturer and writer in residence at University College Cork (1969-76), he had a considerable influence on the Innti poets who studied there. The diaries he kept from 1940 to a couple of days before his death provide insights into Ó Ríordáin’s working method and his anguished quest for meaning in a life frustrated by illness where poetry provided occasional access to truth and authenticity. Ó Ríordáin published three collections before his death in 1977, Eireaball spideoige (1952), Brosna (1964), and Línte Liombó (1971). A fourth collection Tar éis mo bháis was published posthumously in 1978, and his collected poems in Irish, Na dánta, in 2011. There are two substantial translations of his poetry, Selected Poems, edited by Frank Sewell (Yale University Press, 2014), and Apathy Is Out: Selected Poems, translated by Greg Delanty (Bloodaxe Books / Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2021). Since revised and now appearing in a dual language edition, Greg Delanty’s translation was to have been published in 2007, with the blessing of Ó Ríordáin’s family and estate, but was blocked by his publisher, the late Caoimhín Ó Marcaigh of Sáirséal Ó Marcaigh, which controlled Ó Ríordáin’s translation rights. Its publication – and that of the earlier dual-language Yale edition – has been possible following Cló Iar-Chonnachta’s acquisition of Sáirséal Ó Marcaigh.
Greg Delanty was born in Cork in 1958, and studied at University College Cork. He has lived in the US for the past 30 years, and is a professor of English at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. He has edited or co-edited several anthologies and translations, including Jumping Off Shadows: Selected Contemporary Irish Poetry (with Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, 1995), Selected Poems: Kyriakos Charalambides (2005), The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation (with Michael Matto, 2011), and Apathy Is Out: Selected Poems by Seán Ó Ríordáin (Bloodaxe Books / Cló Iar-Chonnachta, forthcoming in 2021). His own Collected Poems 1986-2006 (Carcanet Press, 2006) draws on seven collections, including Cast in the Fire (1986), Southward (1992), American Wake (1995), The Hellbox (1998), The Blind Stitch (2001), The Ship of Birth (2003), and a new collection, Aceldama. His inventive “translation” of imagined poets, The Greek Anthology, Book XVII (Carcanet Press, 2012), features poets including Kincellas Major, Longlius, Rosanna Daedalus, Clara Kritikos and a certain Heanius. His latest poetry book to appear in the US is Selected Delanty, selected and introduced by Archie Burnett (Un-Gyve Press, 2017). He has received many awards, including a Guggenheim for poetry.