Patrick Kavanagh

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Patrick KavanaghPatrick Kavanagh was an Irish poet and novelist. His best-known works include the novel Tarry Flynn, and the poems “On Raglan Road” and “The Great Hunger”. He is known for his accounts of Irish life through reference to the everyday and commonplace.

Patrick Kavanagh was born in rural Inniskeen, County Monaghan, in 1904, the fourth of ten children of James Kavanagh and Bridget Quinn His grandfather was a schoolteacher called “Kevany”,​ ​which a local priest changed to “Kavanagh” at his baptism. The grandfather had to leave the area following a scandal and never taught in a national school again, but married and raised a family in Tullamore. Patrick Kavanagh’s father, James, was a cobbler and farmer. Kavanagh’s brother Peter became a university professor and writer, two of their sisters were teachers, three became nurses, and one became a nun.



Shortly after the publication of ‘The Green Fool’ in 1938, Oliver St John Gogarty brought and won a libel action against the publisher, Michael Joseph. Gogarty was still smarting from a libel action which he had lost the previous year (in a case in which Samuel Beckett had given evidence for one of the plaintiffs). The passage to which Gogarty took exception seems today innocuous enough. Kavanagh, on his first visit to Dublin, called on various literary figures, and he described his reception at Gogarty’s house as follows – “I mistook Gogarty’s white-robed maid for his wife – or mistress. I expected every poet to have a spare wife”. The book was withdrawn and Gogarty was awarded damages of £100.

Patrick Kavanagh contributed most of the articles and some poems, using numerous pseudonyms. Designed, published and distributed by his brother Peter, who wrote a number of articles either anonymously or under the pen-name John J. Flanagan. It was vehemently opposed to the contemporary Fianna Fail Government and highly critical of the economic and cultural achievements since the foundation of the Irish State. It failed to attract advertisers and in the penultimate issue it published an ultimatum that unless a donation of one thousand pounds were made to it, they would cease publication.

Kavanagh went into several bookshops in Dublin in October 1938 where he demanded that the proprietor put the book in the window or there would be repercussions. Kavanagh visited Fred Hanna’s bookshop on Nassau declaring his name was “Kavanagh and I’m an Irish Poet.” He threatened to “wreck the joint” if his book wasn’t put in the window. Hanna obliged fearing a scene, he then went into Hodges Figgis and began to throw books around the shop in a rage that his book was not in the window. When approached by a member of staff, Kavanagh responded: “Be careful, I will break every bloody bookshop in the city up.” The rest of the book stores including Browne & Nolan and the Grafton Bookshop refused to stock his book and Kavanagh complained that he was living in a “Fascist State.”

Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967) farmer, shoemaker, poet and novelist was born at Iniskeen, County Monaghan and educated locally. His first book ‘Ploughman & Other Poems’ was published in 1936. Today he is recognised as a major Irish poet with universal appeal and is the subject of numerous studies.

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Coolgreany: 1964. Folio. Pictorial wrappers. A very good copy. A seminal 1960s periodical, instrumental in the revival of interest in Patrick Kavanagh. Includes the poem: ‘A Summer Morning Walk’.
Contains Maureen Charlton: ‘From Inniskeen to Baggot Street Bridge. Dublin: 1990. Demy octavo. Pictorial wrappers. A very good copy. The Patrick Kavanagh Interviews’. The complete texts approved and annotated by Kavanagh before their publication.  
Published for the Proprietor, John Trafford, by Halcyon Press, (Barnet) Ltd, London, 1956. Crown quarto. Printed red wrappers. A very good copy. A most remarkable issue containing 19 poems by Patrick Kavanagh. This mini collection made an important contribution to Kavanagh’s reputation – 17 pages plus 4 pages of the accompanying essay on the [...]
A Tribute to Patrick Kavanagh. Dublin: 1968. Demy octavo. Pictorial wrappers. A very good copy. Includes essays and poems by Derek Mahon, Brendan Kennelly, Michael Longley and others on Kavanagh.
Patrick Kavanagh Country. By Peter Kavanagh. Goldsmith Press. 1978. Wrappers. The Curragh: Goldsmith Press. 1978. Foolscap octavo. First edition. pp. 68. Pictorial wrappers. A very good copy.
Dublin: Sealy, Bryers and Walker, 1949/1951. Royal octavo. Printed red wrappers. A good copy.  Contains ‘From Monaghan to the Grand Canal’. “I have been thinking of making my grove on the banks of the Grand Canal near Baggot Street Bridge where in recent days I rediscovered my roots. My [...]
Dublin: Envoy, 1949/1951. Bound in brown buckram with original pictorial covers bound in. A fine set.  Founded and edited by John Ryan, this periodical of literature and art filled the place vacated by ‘The Bell’. With Valentin Iremonger as poetry editor it viewed itself as a link between Irish and European writing. There [...]
Edited by Cyril Connolly. London: Horizon, 1942. Demy octavo. Bound in brown buckram with original pictorial covers bound in. A very good copy.
Cork: The Mercier Press, 2010. First edition. Crown octavo. pp. 288. Pictorial stiff wrappers. A very good copy in dust jacket.
Patrick Kavanagh. By John Nemo. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1979. Large post octavo. First edition. pp. 166. Purple buckram, titled in gilt. A fine copy.
Dublin: The Bell, 1940. Demy octavo. Printed wrappers. A very good copy.  features a short story ‘Why Blame the Sea-Gulls?’ and the much-loved poem ‘A Christmas Childhood’. “Across the calm bogs his melodeon called To Lennons and Callans. As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry I knew some [...]
Dublin: The Bell, 1947. Demy octavo. Printed wrappers. One part with old worming, otherwise in nice condition.
London: Joseph, 1938. pp. 350. First edition. Original black cloth, titled in gilt (variant binding?). A very good copy. Exceedingly rare. Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967) farmer, shoemaker, poet and novelist was born at Iniskeen, County Monaghan and educated locally. His first book ‘Ploughman & Other Poems’ was published in 1936. Today [...]
London: Macmillan, 1947. First edition. Demy octavo. pp. vi, 55. Green cloth, title in gilt along spine. Signed by Patrick Kavanagh and Niall Sheridan. With some printed poems by Kavanagh loosely inserted. A fine copy in a rare fine dust jacket. In this, his second collection of poems, Kavanagh takes his themes [...]
Produced and edited by Prionsias Mac Aonghusa. Dublin: Published by Garech de Brún, Claddagh Records. 1964. Disk in fine condition in original sleeve with a picture of Kavanagh along the Canal after a design by Liam Miller of the Dolmen Press.
New York: Devin-Adair, 1964. First U.S. edition. Royal octavo. pp. xv, [1], 202. Quarter black buckram on brown cloth boards, titled in gilt. A fine copy in lightly-frayed dust jacket.
Portrait frontispiece. London: Macgibbon, 1967. Medium octavo. First edition. pp. 287, [1]. Green papered boards, title in gilt on brown panel along spine. A fine copy in fine un-priced clipped dust jacket. The word ‘Pruse’ was coined by Kavanagh. He uses it to describe the contents of this work. Monaghan oozes through [...]
The Trial February 1954: The Kavanagh Archive; Pen and the Sword; An Irishman’s Diary; Kavanagh Country; Diary, A Play by Kavanagh; Composing to Kavanagh; Kavanagh’s Lessons for Simple Living; In the Light of the Imagination by Seamus Heaney; Forget Me Not; The only safe legend is a dead one; Patrick [...]
New York: The Peter Kavanagh Hand-Press, 1958. First and only edition. Small quarto. pp. (1) ii, 50 (2) ii, 51-102, (3) ii, 103-152. All volumes of this dictionary have been hand-set in 12 point Egmont Light and printed on a hand-press. Limited to 100 numbered copies [No.37]. Pale blue [...]
Kavanagh. New York: The Peter Kavanagh Hand Press, 1971. First edition. Medium octavo. pp. [viii], [16 (photographs)], 229. Blue buckram, titled in gilt. A very good copy. Loosely inserted are two poems by Patrick Kavanagh – ‘O Stony Grey Soil’ and ‘Kednaminsha.’
U.S.A.: Proscenium Press, 1977. First edition. Demy octavo. pp. 79. Pictorial wrappers. A very good copy in dust jacket.
Illustrated. Dublin: The Dolmen Press, 1964. First edition. Crown octavo. pp. 31. Red and blue papered boards, title in gilt along spine. A fine copy in fine un-priced clipped dust jacket with portrait of Patrick Kavanagh in sepia. Miller 70. The very rare first edition was withdrawn after Kavanagh objected [...]
KAVANAGH, Patrick. Tarry Flynn. A Novel. London: Martin Brian & O’Keeffe, 1975. pp. 256. Brown papered boards, titled in gilt. A fine copy in fine price-clipped dust jacket.  “The author once wrote that this book was not only the best but the only authentic account of life [...]