Cathal Ó Searcaigh

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Cathal Ó Searcaigh
Cathal Ó Searcaigh
Born (1956-07-12) 12 July 1956 (age 59)
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 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.

Ó Searcaigh gave his first interview since the controversy to Áine Ní Churráin on Raidió na Gaeltachta.[6][7][8]

He was scheduled to be interviewed on The Late Late Show on 6 February 2009.[9] 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.[10]


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[11] 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. ^ Áine Ní Churráin interview with Ó Searcaigh (in Irish)
  7. ^ Ó Searcaigh Interview: Agallamh; Aistriúchán:Translation (bilingual transcript of interview), 31 March 2008, Fiche Focail, retrieved 11 February 2009
  8. ^ "Poet finally breaks silence and claims 'I have been wronged'", Irish Independent, 26 March 2008. Retrieved 11 February 2009
  9. ^ "Poet Ó Searcaigh cancels Late Late appearance", The Irish Times, 6 February 2009. Retrieved 6 February 2009.
  10. ^ Pierce, David (2000). Irish Writing in the Twentieth Century: A Reader. Cork University Press. p. 1183. ISBN 1-85918-258-5. 
  11. ^ "Cathal Ó Searcaigh". Aosdána.