Padráic Fiacc is now known as ‘the Poet who captured the darkness of the Troubles’ but throughout most of his career his stark poems based on his direct experiences in Northern Ireland were initially vilified for their intense depiction of urban violence and sectarianism. Fiacc also wrote graphically about growing up in poverty, as a child in the notorious Hell’s Kitchen district of New York.
Born Patrick Joseph O’Connor he adopted the pseudonym Pádraic Fiacc (Patrick the Raven) in honour of the Irish poet Pádraic Colum, who became his mentor when he lived as a child in New York.
During the 1970s, Fiacc’s mental health completely broke down, due to the sectarian murder of his 20-year-old close friend Gerry McLaughlin. The Poet Gerald Dawe said his poetry books “tell the story of ‘The Troubles’ in a shocking way, offending many with often barbarous and fragmented utterances, but they are all lit throughout with black irony and gallows humour.”
It wasn’t until later in his life that Fiacc finally got the recognition he deserved, “as one of the bravest and rawest of the Northern Irish Poets”. He was made a member of ‘Aosdána’ and ten days before he died, at the age of 94, Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins, who is himself a poet, went to visit him at the nursing home in South Belfast where he was being cared for; and then upon his death President Michael D. Higgins said these words..
.. “Having experienced tragedy and loss, Padraic Fiacc was never afraid to reflect dark, deeply emotive and disturbing elements in his verse. His empathy for the frightened and maimed individuals on either side of the divide shone through his work.”
However, throughout the many decades, when Fiacc’s work was being overlooked, there was always one man who stood steadfast in his belief in him – always proclaiming Fiacc to be one of the greatest Irish Poets and that was John Minihan. In the mid 80’s when Fiacc was fragile and practically homeless, Minihan who took him into his London home and it was there that this poignant, photographic journey began, culminating in this extraordinary, deeply powerful exhibition.
On April 28th at The Official Opening of the Exhibition “Poet Of The Troubles”, at the specific request of John Minihan, the poems of Padriac Fiacc will be read by Irish Poet and the Resident Poet here at The ICC, Niall McDevitt.
On Saturday APRIL 30th here at The ICC the acclaimed photographer John Minihan will give an illustrated talk, “BECKETT AND THE WAKE” in which he will speak about his encounters with one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Samuel Beckett. Starts 3pm Entry £5.00