Poet John Montague dies aged 87

Poet John Montague dies aged 87

Irish poet John Montague has died at the age of 87.

The President Michael D Higgins is leading tributes to renowned Irish poet John Montague, who has died at the age of 87.

President Higgins described his work as "immense", and said his death was "another great loss to Irish letters".

The renowned poet died in France, but his remains are expected to be brought from Nice to Tyrone where he was brought up.

The Arts Council says his loss will be felt acutely but his work will continue to inspire both readers and writers for generations to come.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1929, he was raised in Co. Tyrone.

He co-founded Claddagh Records and his poetry included Forms of Exile and Poisoned Lands.

President Higgins has expressed his "sorrow" at hearing of his death.

He said: "I have heard with sorrow of the passing of John Montague, one of our finest poets, and the first Ireland Professor of Poetry 1998, and just recently honoured at the Irish Book Awards with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to literature.

"The death of John Montague represents another great loss to Irish letters, a further break with a rich body of work that was the gift of poets and dramatists, to Ulster, Ireland and the world.

"All of the themes of the last century are engaged in John Montague’s work – separation, exile, memory, conflict, the making and teaching of poems in academic settings far and wide, and the challenge of their delivery, generously undertaken in a myriad of settlings.

"His work which includes magnificent love poems, and which indeed show a love of the world in all its curiosity, was immense.

"John Montague produced a body of work that was recognised by his peers as of the finest kind – lines hewn out of experience as if granite, nothing avoided or evaded, and this writing went on to the end.

"Familiar with the literature of other languages, he was a careful translator and source of encouragement to others.

"His wry, self-deprecating company, his humour, his openness to opposite opinions, will be missed by all of us who were privileged to be his friends – and so many were.

"To his wife Elizabeth Wassell; his daughters Sibyl and Oonagh, and all those who loved him, Sabina and I send our deepest sympathy."


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