Cathal Ó Searcaigh

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Cathal Ó Searcaigh
Cathal Ó Searcaigh
Born (1956-07-12) 12 July 1956 (age 60)
Gortahork, County Donegal, Ireland
Occupation Poet

Cathal Ó Searcaigh (pronounced [ˈkahəlˠ oː ˈʃaɾˠkiː]; born 12 July 1956) is an Irish poet, playwright and prose writer who writes in the Irish language (specifically the Ulster dialect).

Ó Searcaigh was born in Gortahork, a town in the Gaeltacht region of Donegal, and lives at the foot of Mount Errigal.


His collections of poetry include Homecoming/An Bealach 'na Bhaile (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 1993); Na Buachaillí Bána (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 1995); Out in the Open (translations by Frank Sewell, Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 1997); Ag Tnúth leis an tSolas (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2001) – for which he received The Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for the Irish language, in 2001; Gúrú i gClúidíní (Guru in Nappies) (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2006).

The poems "Níl Aon Ní" and "Maigdiléana" have featured on the Leaving Certificate examination of Irish.[1] The Leaving Certificate syllabus for Irish has since been changed completely. However, Ó Searcaigh's work still features on the literary course. Both "Seal i Neipeal" and "Colmain" are included.

Plays include Mairimid leis na Mistéirí; Tá an Tóin ag Titim as an tSaol; Oíche Dhrochghealaí, based on the story of Salomé (Letterkenny, An Grianán, 2001).

Also published from Nirala Publications, New Delhi, India Cathal O'Searcaigh's Kathmandu, Poems Selected and New (An English/Nepali Bilingual Edition) Translated into the Nepali by Yuyutsu R.D. Sharma

Ó Searcaigh's first prose work, Seal i Neipeal, an account of his time in Nepal, was published by Cló Iar-Chonnachta in 2004.

Personal life[edit]

Ó Searcaigh sponsors the education of many boys and girls in Nepal, and supports many families there. He has sent over €100,000 to Nepal from Ireland since his first visit there.[2] He has an informally adopted son from this country. In 1998, an entry visa was granted by the Irish government to Prem Timalsina, a Nepali friend of Ó Searcaigh. Subsequently Timalsina was informally adopted by the poet.[3] The young man is again living in Nepal, where he has a son of his own whom Ó Searcaigh views as his grandson, and to whom he has addressed several poems.[4]

In February 2007, Fairytale of Kathmandu,[5] a controversial film documentary that focused on his charitable work and lifestyle in Nepal was released. The film queried his relationships with some of the teenaged boys he knew in Nepal.

It later emerged Mary Hanafin, while Government Chief Whip, had assisted Ó Searcaigh obtain an Irish visa for a Nepalese youth. The allegations were contained in the documentary Fairytale of Kathmandu. Hanafin, who admitted being friends with Ó Searcaigh for many years, dismissed the allegations as an "irresponsible piece of journalism".[6]

Ó Searcaigh gave his first interview since the controversy to Áine Ní Churráin on Raidió na Gaeltachta.[7][8][9]

He was scheduled to be interviewed on The Late Late Show on 6 February 2009.[10] RTÉ received legal advice that the interview should be pre-recorded, but Ó Searcaigh declined to appear on the show when informed of this.

On 7 February 2009, he was interviewed in English by Dermod Moore for Hot Press magazine, which was published on 12 February 2009. It is a comprehensive response to the charges laid against him, both in the film and in the media coverage of the scandal.[2]

He is openly gay.[11]


Ó Searcaigh was awarded the Seán Ó Riordáin Prize for Poetry in 1993 and the Duais Bhord na Gaeilge in 1995. He is a member of Aosdána[12] and in 2006 won The American Ireland Fund Literary Award.

Further reading[edit]

  • Allen Randolph, Jody. "Cathal Ó Searcaigh, January 2010." Close to the Next Moment: Interviews from a Changing Ireland. Manchester: Carcanet, 2010.
  • Doan, James and Frank Sewell, eds. On the Side of Light: The Poetry of Cathal O'Searcaigh. Dublin: Arlen House, 2002.


  1. ^ "Ó Searcaigh poems may be taken off curriculum". RTÉ News. 20 February 2008.
  2. ^ a b Dermod Moore. "The Case for the Defence (subscription only)". Hot Press. 
  3. ^ Irish Mail on Sunday 10 February 2008, pp.1–2, 4–6, 16.
  4. ^ County Donegal on the Net News. Vol.8 No.2 February 2007
  5. ^ Neasa Ní Chianaín. "Fairytale of Kathmandu web site". Vinegar Hill Productions. 
  6. ^ "Hanafin stands over visa help for Nepal teen". Irish Independent. 11 February 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  7. ^ Áine Ní Churráin interview with Ó Searcaigh (in Irish)
  8. ^ Ó Searcaigh Interview: Agallamh; Aistriúchán:Translation (bilingual transcript of interview), 31 March 2008, Fiche Focail, retrieved 11 February 2009
  9. ^ "Poet finally breaks silence and claims 'I have been wronged'", Irish Independent, 26 March 2008. Retrieved 11 February 2009
  10. ^ "Poet Ó Searcaigh cancels Late Late appearance", The Irish Times, 6 February 2009. Retrieved 6 February 2009.
  11. ^ Pierce, David (2000). Irish Writing in the Twentieth Century: A Reader. Cork University Press. p. 1183. ISBN 1-85918-258-5. 
  12. ^ "Cathal Ó Searcaigh". Aosdána.


  • Sewell, Frank C (2001). Modern Irish Poetry: A New Alhambra. OUP Oxford. ISBN 0191584355.