Documentary On Newstalk: The Green Fool – Did the World Overlook Patrick Kavanagh?

Exploring the life and work of one of our major Irish poets.

Documentary & Drama on Newstalk

Patrick Kavanagh statue by Sculptor John Coll

18:08 24 Nov 2017 Francesca Lalor 18:08 Friday 24 November 2017

In “The Green Fool – Did the World Overlook Patrick Kavanagh’’ Producer Noel Murphy explores the life and art of one of our major Irish poets. Overlooked for decades, is Kavanagh finally receiving his due recognition 50 years after his death?

Broadcast Times: Sunday 26th November at 8am and repeated on Saturday 2nd December at 10pm. Podcast available online after the first broadcast.

Noel starts this journey at the birthplace of Kavanagh himself, the village of Inniskeen meeting the curator of the Kavanagh centre and museum Rosaleen Kearney and reflecting on the legacy of Patrick Kavanagh. Art Agnew takes Noel on a walking tour of the village stopping firstly at Kavanaghs home where they gaze up at the little window that was his window on the world.

Kavanagh walked to Dublin in an epic journey designed to shed his past behind him; Noel pauses at the statue of Kavanagh by the Canal Bank and then meets Macdara Woods a leading poet who knew the ‘terrifying’ Kavanagh well and gives first-hand accounts of their interactions. He then meets Dr.Lucy Collins of UCD English Dept as she prepares a new exhibition called ‘Kavanagh Reconsidered’ which re-evaluates his work and influence.

Noel chats to Dr. Eric Falci of the University of California in Berkeley, San Francisco, a place far removed from Inniskeen. The voice and location are very far away from the mundane affairs of the stony grey soil however remember that Kavanagh saw epic things in small places so how does his work translate across borders? Eric has studied Celtic poets and their worldly influence and he is best placed to give a view on Kavanagh; however, it is not a straightforward answer to the question posed.

Jonathan Williams is custodian of all Kavanaghs works and someone who is in a position to know how these works are being sought out and published in the world today; he talks about who is looking for these works and the various languages they are being published in.

Belfast became Kavanaghs home for a number of years and here there is an opportunity to talk to scholar Dr. Frank Sewell from University of Ulster on the influences and perceptions of Patrick Kavanagh. Taking the Ulster theme further, the programme meets with Alan Gillis, considered one of today’s finest poets and someone who also pursues the familiar in everyday life but with an absurd or irreverent eye.

Returning to the grave of Kavanagh himself, Noel and Kathleen reflect on the simplicity of his grave and the simplicity of the images he created. Throughout the programme there have been many references to ‘On Raglan Road’ and here an extract is included of President Barack Obama quoting from the poem in a very poignant and reflective moment. The programme ends with the Luke Kelly rendition of the song accompanied with various voices of the contributors reading the poem alongside.

This programme idea crosses a number of themes; Irish Culture, heritage and experience, as experienced through the words and thoughts of Patrick Kavanagh.The works of Kavanagh are very much of our rural, folk and vernacular heritage and his words and lyrics have been passed down now through several generations and will continue to do so.

The programme captures many of the sounds of this journey from the village of Inniskeen to Dublin to San Francisco together with many thoughtful considerations of the overall question.

This is a very evocative study of Kavanagh and his place in the world.


The Green Fool – Did the World Overlook Patrick Kavanagh’’ will be broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm on Sunday 26th November at 8am and repeated on Saturday 2nd December at 10pm.

LISTEN LIVE: ‘’The Green Fool – Did the World Overlook Patrick Kavanagh’’ can also be listened to online at:

PODCAST: Podcast available at: after the broadcast.

CREDITS: ‘’The Green Fool – Did the World Overlook Patrick Kavanagh’’ was written, produced, presented and edited by Noel Murphy.

The words of Patrick Kavanagh are broadcast by kind permission of the Trustees of the Estate of the late Katherine B. Kavanagh, through the Jonathan Williams Literary Agency.

The project was supported by a grant from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, as part of the Sound and Vision Scheme.