THIS year has seen the deaths of many cultural icons both here and abroad, among them music legends David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, novelist William Trevor, actor Frank Kelly, and the irrepressible TV star Terry Wogan.
Added to that list over the weekend are John Montague and AA Gill, both extraordinarily influential figures in the field of letters, each with a unique and powerful voice and vision.
Though born in New York, Montague grew up in Tyrone and was unmistakenly Irish, describing the sounds of Ireland in his poem, Windharp, as “that restless whispering you never get away from”.
He was made Ireland’s first professor of poetry in 1998 and came to define modern Irish poetry, leaving behind a huge legacy and a rich body of work that will undoubtedly inspire for generations to come.
AA Gill, the provocative restaurant and TV critic, was best known for his weekly column in The Sunday Times. He had a way with words that every other newspaper columnist wished they had.
Invariably witty and funny, always smart, sometimes offensive but rarely cruel, he even joked about the disease that killed him, describing in his column how he had “an embarrassment of cancer... the full English”.
The world is a lesser place without John Montague and Adrian Gill. Each in their own way proved that words matter.
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