The Ireland Chair of Poetry
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The Ireland Chair of Poetry Trust was set up in 1998 and is jointly held between Queen's University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon.


Every three years a poet of honour and distinction is chosen to represent the Chair as Ireland's Professor of Poetry. During their tenure the holder spends a year attached to each of the three universities and resides for a period of approximately eight weeks at each. While in residence, the poet gives informal workshops or readings, spends time working with students and performing outreach work and makes one formal presentation a year, usually in the form of a lecture.




The Trustees of the Ireland Chair of Poetry have learned with deep regret of the death of our colleague Seamus Heaney. It was as a direct response to his award of the Nobel Prize for Literature that the Ireland Chair of Poetry was established. He was a committed and active member of the group of Trustees from the inception of the Chair until his death.


His death leaves a great void in Irish society and in the lives of very many people in all parts of the island of Ireland. He was in a very special way the embodiment of poetry and he succeeded in bringing its richness to the centre of our consciousness.


He had the great gift of being able through his poetry to explore and to elevate the ordinary realities of our daily lives and to offer penetrating insight and deep understanding thereby. He spoke to the people and the people listened.


He also wrote with deep appreciation and sensitivity about the role and importance of broadcasting in our journey into "the wildness of the world" and he has enriched the archives of RTÉ and BBC through his generous availability. Future generations will rejoice in that inheritance.


Just two weeks ago I was among those who sat rapt at the reading that he and Michael Longley gave at the Merriman Summer School in Lisdoonvarna. The intimacy of the relationship with the capacity audience and their deep appreciation of the work of both poets will live forever in the memory.


The announcement of the new Ireland Chair of Poetry by President Higgins later this month will miss Seamus Heaney's inspiring presence.


Our sympathies are with his wife Marie and with his family.


Bob Collins, Chairman, Ireland Chair of Poetry






In 1998 John Montague was chosen as the first Professor of Poetry. His successor, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, held the post from 2001 to 2004, Paul Durcan was elected the third holder of the Chair from 2004 to 2007 and Michael Longley held the Professorship from 2007 to 2010.



On Friday 13th September, the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins announced Paula Meehan as the Ireland Professor of Poetry 2013. 


Commenting on the announcement the Chairman of the Trust Mr. Bob Collins said:,“The establishment of the Ireland Chair of Poetry was a powerful act of imagination. How better to mark Seamus Heaney’s Nobel Prize and the achievements of poets from across this island? The coming together of the two Arts Councils and the three Universities, Trinity, UCD and Queen’s was an inspired development. Paula Meehan takes a well-deserved place in the ranks of the distinguished holders of this position. The relevance of poetry, the prophetic voice of the poet, the potential of the arts in general are celebrated in this appointment. These same values were reflected in a very particular way in the outpouring of affection and the manifest sense of loss at the death two weeks ago of Seamus Heaney. He enriched the lives of the people and shaped our communities in ways that we do not yet fully appreciate.”



On Wednesday 30th June, An Taoiseach Brian Cowen, T.D. announced Harry Clifton as the Ireland Professor of Poetry 2010. 

 In making the announcement An Taoiseach said: "My warmest congratulations to Harry Clifton on receiving this very well deserved honour as Ireland's next Professor of Poetry. He is a most worthy champion of our country’s long poetic tradition and I would like to wish him every success during his tenure."  

‘A huge honour, and totally unexpected. And to succeed Michael Longley, one of the most admired poets in the language itself, let alone the country, is especially wonderful.’ Harry Clifton commented.


Harry Clifton spent his third year as Ireland Professor of Poetry with University College Dublin. He gave his third annual lecture: 'Into the Afterlife: Irish Poets in American Space'  in University College Dublin on Wednesday the 20th February 2013 and repeated this lecture in Queen's University Belfast on 26th April 2013. Harry Clifton also gave a reading in Trinity College Dublin on the 6th of March 2013.


Click below to listen to a recording of the lecture:




Harry Clifton spent his second year as Ireland Professor of Poetry with Trinity College Dublin. He gave his second annual lecture: 'The Unforged Conscience: Europe in Irish Poetry'  in the Swift Theatre, Trinity College Dublin on Wednesday the 22nd February 2012 at 7pm and repeated this lecture in Queen's University Belfast on 1 November 2012. Harry Clifton also gave a reading in University College Dublin on the 28th of March 2012.



Harry Clifton spent his first year as Ireland Professor of Poetry with Queen's University Belfast. He performed his inaugural lecture: 'Seriously Into Cultural Detritus: Writing the Rustbelt in Britain and Ireland'  in the Great Hall of Queen's University Belfast on Tuesday the 8th February 2011 at 8pm and repeated this lecture in the John Hume Institute for Global Irish Studies, University College Dublin on the 1st March 2011 at 7.30pm. Harry Clifton also gave a reading in Trinity College Dublin on the 30th of March 2011.


Click below to listen to a recording of the lecture:




The Professor of Poetry carries out a number of outreach activities each year which include speaking and reading at schools, libraries, festivals, museums, galleries and conferences. If you would like to know more about the Outreach Programme, please contact




Each year Ireland's Professor of Poetry nominates a 'poet of promise' for a bursary award which enables the recipient to spend time working on their arts practice, away from domestic duties or disturbances. The nomination is confirmed by the trustees of the board of the Ireland Chair of Poetry and the recipient is entitled to spend four weeks at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Co Monaghan.


Dave Lordan is the Bursary recipient for 2011. Previous winners of the award include Miriam Gamble, Leanne O' Sullivan, Leontia Flynn, Maureen Boyle, Nick Laird, Iggy McGovern and Alice Lyons.




The Ireland Chair of Poetry announced the publication of a limited edition hand printed book, MANY MANSIONS, in November 2009. This book features twelve new, unpublished poems - two each by JOHN MONTAGUE, NUALA NÍ DHOMHNAILL, PAUL DURCAN, MICHAEL LONGLEY, CIARAN CARSON and SEAMUS HEANEY. Seamus Heaney has also written a foreword to the volume.


MANY MANSIONS was designed and published by Stoney Road Press for the Ireland Chair of Poetry. The text is composed in 12.5 point Book Antiqua and printed by hand at the National Print Museum, Dublin. The paper is 250gsm BFK Rives Blanc paper and the inside papers are Somerset velvet black. It is quarter-bound in mid-blue goatskin leather and beige bookcloth with matching slipcase by Antiquarian Bookcrafts, Dublin.


This special edition is limited to one hundred and twenty five copies and each numbered copy is signed by all the contributors.  All copies of the publication, Many Mansions, have been sold. 




'The Poet's Chair' celebrates the first nine years of the Ireland Chair of Poetry and brings together public lectures given by John Montague, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Paul Durcan with a foreword by Seamus Heaney. You can purchase 'The Poet's Chair' in most bookshops or alternatively you can contact the Ireland Chair of Poetry Trust Administrator for a copy.





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