Belfast-born poet Derek Mahon has died at the age of 78

Belfast-born poet Derek Mahon has died at the age of 78

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John Minihan / Gallery Press

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Derek Mahon died of a minor illness in Kinsale, County Cork

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Belfast-born poet Derek Mahon has died at the age of 78 from a minor illness.

Mahone, an internationally acclaimed writer, was born in Belfast and began writing poetry during his school days at RBI.

The Gallery Press, which informed Mahon’s publisher of his death, called him a “master poet” and a “pure artist”.

“His influence and his legacy are immense, largely in the Irish poetic community, in the literary world and in society,” said Cross-Border Body Poet Ireland.

At the beginning of the corona virus pandemic in March, RTE ended their evening news bulletin, and Mahon read his poem, “Everything Will Be All Right.”

It was a reminder of Derek Mahon’s central position in Irish culture.

After attending school at RBI, Mahon joined Trinity College, Dublin.

His first collection of twelve poems was published in 1965 at the Belfast Festival in Queens.

In 1968 the Oxford University Press published his first major collection, Night Crossing.

He has published several collections of poetry throughout his half-century-long career and has written screenplays for some TV plays.

Mahon was part of an extraordinary group of Northern Irish poets who began publishing works in the mid – 1960s and gained worldwide fame.

His contemporaries included Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, and Paul Maldoun.

After a year as a journalist in London, Mahon spent a year as a writer-in-residence at the University of Ulster (UU) in Colorado.

“I’m looking out the window at the ruins of the Giants Causeway east of the Dunlos Castle (once McDonald’s stronghold) east of the shore,” he wrote in his article, the Cholera Triangle.

“To my right is the Royal Portrait Golf Course, a little to the left of the Atlantic Ocean, between me and Scotland on the rocky islands known as the Scaris.

“One clear day I can see Jura and Isla.

“There is nothing on earth to make it more beautiful.”

‘Terrible Loss’

Mahon later settled in Kinsale, County Cork.

Tributes to Mahon are distributed on and off the island of Ireland.

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Suwella Holland

Image caption

Peter Fallon, editor and publisher of Derek Mahon (left) Gallery Press

Renowned BBC journalist Fergal Keane described his death as a “terrible loss”.

He was a master whose words came to me in the darkest moments of my life, ”Keane said on social media.

Martin Doyle Mahon, book editor of the Irish Times, has been called one of Ireland’s greatest poets.

The Irish Writers’ Center says his influence on Irish writing is immeasurable.

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