Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
“Ní Dhomhnaill is a nuts and bolts poet: she puts her ideas and subject-matter right up front, while somewhere in the background extraordinary meanings assemble.”
– Carmine Starnino, Poetry Foundation
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill is one of the few women Irish poets who writes exclusively in Irish and has been a major influence in revitalizing the Irish language in modern poetry. Born in Lancastershire, England in 1952, Ní Dhomhnaill moved to Ireland at age five, growing up in the Irish-speaking areas of West Kerry and Tipperary. She studied Irish and English at University College in Cork, where she later taught these subjects. She currently resides in Dublin, but she previously lived abroad in Turkey and Holland for seven years.
Irish poet, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill has held the Burns Chair of Irish Studies at Boston College, the Humboldt Chair of Irish Studies at Villanova University, and the Naughton Fellow of Irish Studies at Notre Dame. She was awarded the Ireland Chair of Poetry from 2001–2004. She is the recipient of several other awards including the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry, the American Ireland Fund Literary Award, and the Seán Ó Ríordáin Award, which she won for all four of her Irish poetry collections. She has also written plays in Irish, and her work has been translated into French, German, Polish, Italian, Norwegian, Estonian, Japanese, and English.
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill’s choice to write in the Irish language began with her childhood experiences in the Irish-speaking areas of Ireland. Her mother primarily spoke English in their home, but her father spoke Irish. She developed a love for the language and it became a significant part of her life and career. She writes exclusively in Irish because, she says, that though she has tried, she does not hear the poetry in English. She has said, “Irish is a language of beauty, historical significance, ancient roots and an immense propensity for poetic expression through its everyday use.”
*Author photo by Niall Hartnett
Praise for Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
“She has been, for me and for the poets of my generation in both languages, an exemplary path-breaker, finding new ways to tell truths of femininity, language, sexuality and culture. Fearless and daring, her well-loved voice is a steadying force and a challenge as we strive to make sense of the chaos that is life in our times.”
– Theo Dorgan, The Irish Times
“[T]he branching-out, or shape-shifting, from Gaelic myth or folk-song to some less romantic or quirkier emblem of the present, is a constant resource of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill’s poetry; and it’s one of the ways she has rescued the Irish language from its association with Gaelic League pieties or the pedantries of the past.”
– Times Literary Supplement on The Pharaoh’s Daughter by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill