Four Poets for the price of one?

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Where: Munster, Co Kerry, Ireland

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When: Unknown

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Given the wonderful command of language and the many great writers it has produced four Poets in Kerry should hardly have been that much cause for celebration? The Four Poets Memorial in Killarney seems to have focused on some of their muses from long ago and that would be a worthwhile exercise as there are so many today those might be lost in the many?

Photographer: Irish Tourism Association


Collection: Irish Tourism Association Photographic Collection

Date: 1942 - 1944

NLI Ref: NPA ITA 727 (Box IV)

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at


Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 4788
irishtourismassociation irishtourism nationallibraryofireland ireland bwfilmnegatives glassnegatives anunpublisheddatabaseisavailableatnpareadingroomcounter fourpoetsmemorial killarney cokerry munster spéirbhean

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    • 13/Oct/2022 08:01:39

    Streetview -

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    • 13/Oct/2022 08:05:59

    Via, an interesting and slightly sad story of the original rejected statue, now in Merrion Square (see comments) -

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    • 13/Oct/2022 08:13:50

    THE GAELIC MUSE Exalted Poets of Kerry PIERCE FERRITER1 [email protected] 1653 GEOFFREY O’DONOGHUE Died 1677 AOGÁN O’RAHILLY Died 1728 OWEN ROE O’SULLIVAN Died 1784 “Aogán, Geoffrey, Pierce and Owen, Songbirds sweet who with silver tone Charmed our forbears long ago And cheered them all in time of woe” Fr Patrick Dineen 1940

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 13/Oct/2022 08:24:26 Tastes and prejudices change like the wind but for me the rejected design would have been far more appropriate, indeed far more effective!

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    • 13/Oct/2022 08:27:15

    A monument to our ancient culture dwarfed by a monument to modern consumerism Google Earth Link #googleearth

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    Niall McAuley

    • 13/Oct/2022 09:18:11

    The Spéirbhean Monument was sculpted by Seamus Murphy in 1940. At the DIA: Building:CO. KERRY, KILLARNEY, TOWN SQUARE, AN SPEIR BHEAN Date:1940 Nature:Monument to the four Kerry poets erected 1940. The NIAH does not record it. Seamus Murphy on RTÉ on youtube

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    John Spooner

    • 13/Oct/2022 09:47:26

    A challenge match between Kerry and Wexford was proposed in October 1932 in aid of funds for a Four Poets Memorial, 'a project that is being pursued with enthusiasm in Kerry', the match to take place at Waterford (New Ross Standard - Friday 21 October 1932} The match must have taken place because it was mentioned in passing in the same paper on Friday 28 July 1933: Wexford ... after a hard game, yielded to the Kerry All-Ireland side in the Four Poets memorial match at Waterford PS the match took place in December 1932.

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    John Spooner

    • 13/Oct/2022 10:06:16

    The opening, which took place on 15th August 1940, was reported in the Catholic Standard on 23rd August. Last on the list of notable people attending the ceremony was a descendent of Piaras Feiritear, a Mr J Ferriter of Ballyferriter. On the same day a mural plaque was unveiled at Mucross Abbey, where three of the four poets were buried.

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    Bernard Healy

    • 13/Oct/2022 13:43:55

    [] I have an image of the plaque at Muckross Abbey. IMG_4722 Muckross Abbey The location of the Spéirbhean Monument is Fair Hill - also known as Martyrs Hill and Cnocán na gCaorach - where the gallows used to be erected in Killarney, so the statue stands at or near the site where Piaras Feirtéar was hanged. Also hanged at that spot on the same day was the Dominican Prior of Tralee, Thaddeus (Tadhg) Moriarty, who may well be canonised as a martyr some day. Curiously enough, opposite the monument is Killarney's Francican Friary where they keep the skull of another martyr, the Fransiscan Francis O'Sullivan who was beheaded by the Cromwellians on Scarriff Island in South Kerry. I'm usually a fan of Seamus Murphy's work, but it does seem like a pity that Jerome O'Connor's design was rejected. The significance of Murphy's Spéirbhean is that the death of Feirtéir seems to have inspired the poetic trope of the Aisling in the Irish tradition wherein the poet would be visited by the Spéirbhean who would lament the current state of Ireland and predict a better future for the nation. Feirtéir is a figure that one still hears much about in West Kerry. I'm afraid I know very little about Geoffrey O'Donoghue, whereas Aogan Ó Rathaille and Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin would still have a footprint in the folklore of Kerry.

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    m counihan

    • 23/Oct/2022 15:02:21

    Back in the day when things were a bit more innocent, apprentice mechanics on their first day would be sent down to bring back the ‘spare van’ from in front of the friary. It was a source of great amusement to the pranksters.