The bilingual poet Michael Hartnett died in Dublin on 13 October 1999. Renowned for his poetry in both English and Irish, he staked his claim to the Irish language in 1975, when he announced to the world through his book ‘A Farewell to English’ that he would no longer write in English.
‘Féach’ followed him to his new home in Co. Limerick to find out why he had fled Dublin and abandoned the English language. In this interview with Éamon Ó Muirí, Hartnett says he is a poet, but linguistically, “is bastard mise, leath-Ghall agus leath-Ghael”.
There was also a link to this excerpt from A Farewell to English:
I am nothing new
I am not a lonely mouth
trying to chew
a niche for culture
in the clergy-cluttered south.
But I will not see
great men go down
who walked in rags
from town to town
finding English a necessary sin
the perfect language to sell pigs in.
I have made my choice
and leave with little weeping:
I have come with meagre voice
to court the language of my people.