This centre of history and literature is dedicated to the memory of County Monaghan’s most famous writer. It houses memorabilia from his lifetime as well as items that provide the visitor with a thorough education on the local history of rural County Monaghan and lifestyle of much of rural Ireland during the early to mid 1900s.
The Patrick Kavanagh Centre provides a unique tour that includes several area locations that figured prominently in Kavanagh’s life and writings. As the tour progresses, guides provide anecdotal information, poetry and jokes. The tour concludes with a half-hour long dramatic presentation, performed by Gene Carroll, a local actor from Inniskeen.
In addition to many fine exhibits, the centre houses an audiovisual theatre and research library on the premises.
Patrick Kavanagh was born in Inniskeen, County Monaghan, in 1804 to a shoemaker/farmer father who was his teacher and mentor. Patrick attended school until 6th class and then left to join his father, learning his trade and working on the family farm.
Kavanagh lived an ordinary life on the family farm and in the Inniskeen community for nearly 20 years, playing football, attending Mass, and conducting business on the farm and in the marketplace. He began to dabble in poetry in his teenage years, enjoyed it, and submitted his work to newspapers large and small for publication.
Ploughman and other Poems, his first published collection, emerged in 1936. Then, spurred on by an advance from Mac Millan Publishing of London, he proceeded to write “The Green Fool”, detailing rural life in County Monaghan.
Kavanagh was tired of the rural lifestyle and felt constricted by its limitations. He moved to London in 1938, and soon after settled in Dublin. Back at home, his ambition to become a successful writer alienated him from many of his neighbours, who mistrusted his abilities and talents. Once in Dublin, he worked as a writer and journalist, where his brutal honesty alienated more than a few people.
His most famous work was The Great Hunger, published in 1942. In 1948, his novel Tarry Flynn was published. Kavanagh wrote graphically about the details of the rural Irish life, and some of his works were initially banned in Ireland, due to alleged obscenity.
The next decade brought several life changing events in the life of Patrick Kavanagh. First, he initiated a libel action that was lost after a difficult and embarrassing court battle, but concluded with a successful appeal. This ordeal was followed by a diagnosis of lung cancer, and he underwent surgery to remove an entire lung.
His outlook brightened considerably when, during the recovery period, he experienced a particularly fruitful period of writing. His work was widely recognized and well received in Ireland as well as around the world.
In November of 1967, Patrick Kavanagh was honored to attend the opening of an Abbey Theatre stage presentation of his Tarry Flynn at the Town Hall in Dundalk. Unfortunately, he became ill later that evening, contracted pneumonia and died later that week in a nursing home. He was buried at Inniskeen.
The Patrick Kavanagh Rural and Literary Resource Center provides writing seminars and poetry competitions in honor of this famous son of County Monaghan.