Irish President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to Irish poet Thomas Kinsella who has passed away at the age of 93.
Among the works he was best known for was Butcher’s Dozen which was written in the aftermath of the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry.
Mr Higgins said Mr Kinsella “remained to the end a truly remarkable man with a special grace” when he attended one of the poet’s last public engagements at his old Model School primary school in his native Inchicore in 2019.
“All those with a love of Irish poetry and culture will be saddened to have learned today of the death of Thomas Kinsella, one of Ireland’s finest poets,” he said.
“His reputation at home and abroad was one of being of a school that sought an excellence that did not know borders.”
Mr Higgins added that “Kinsella, in addition to his own work, leaves a strong legacy in his translations from early Irish, most notably his collaboration with artist Louis le Brocquy on The Táin. That beautiful work came from a poet who valued and empathised with the Irish tradition”.
Butcher’s Dozen was written in the immediate aftermath of Bloody Sunday, following the Widgery report which whitewashed the atrocity, and published on April 26, 1972.
Kinsella said later that the “report was a great insult” but that his poem was written “at some personal cost”.
“There was a considerable loss of readership — a permanent chill in the atmosphere from readers of my work, and from friends,” he said.
“I received a letter from one friend who simply put an end to our friendship. They signed off, ‘No British person would behave in such a way.’ This continued even after total vindication [in] the Saville report; and the apology [from prime minister David Cameron] in the British parliament. I stand over my decision to write [it].” (BelfastTelegraph)