A generation slipping away: Brendan Kennelly and the changing of Ireland’s literary guard

The works of the legendary Kerry poet, who died last week, will endure for decades to come. But his death has brought a strong sense that we must cherish our surviving literary giants while we still can

Brendan Kennelly, who died last week, was always a deeply serious poet, behind the humorous affability with which he greeted friends and strangers. Picture: Marc O’Sullivan

In its original incarnation – when, at certain moments, it possessed a strange ability to take the pulse of a troubled nation – The Late Late Show produced extraordinary incidents that could only occur through the chance and alchemy of live television.

I recall the impact of one such unprecedented moment which no scriptwriter would dare invent, and which few who witnessed it will ever forget. It occurred in the late 1990s, during Gay Byrne’s ...