Máire Mhac an tSaoi

Máire Mhac an tSaoi (born 4 April 1922)[1][2] is an Irish language scholar, poet, writer and academic of modern literature in Irish.[3][4] Along with Seán Ó Ríordáin and Máirtín Ó Direáin she is, in the words of Louis de Paor, "one of a trinity of poets who revolutionised Irish language poetry in the 1940s and 50s."[5]


Mhac an tSaoi was born as Máire MacEntee in Dublin in 1922. Her father, Seán MacEntee, a native of Belfast, was a founding member of Fianna Fáil, a long-serving TD and Tánaiste in the Dáil and a participant in the Easter Rising of 1916. Her mother, County Tipperary-born Margaret Browne (or de Brún), a teacher at Alexandra College, was also an Irish republican. Her uncle Monsignor Pádraig de Brún was one of the most respected scholars of the Irish language in the twentieth century. Another uncle was the conservative prelate Michael Cardinal Browne, who was Master of the Dominican Order.


Her husband was Conor Cruise O'Brien (1917–2008), an Irish politician, writer and historian. The couple were married in 1962 and later adopted two children, Patrick and Margaret.


Mhac an tSaoi has had a lifelong passion for the Irish language, and is today one of the leading authorities on Munster Irish. She is a prolific writer in Irish. She was elected to Aosdána in 1996, but resigned in 1997 after Francis Stuart's elevation to the position of Saoi, which she had opposed because of his allegedly anti-Semitic broadcasts from Nazi Germany during World War II.[6] Her poem "Jack" and short story An Bhean Óg both have featured on the Leaving Certificate Irish course, at both Higher and Ordinary Levels, from 2006 to 2010.

List of works

Mhac an tSaoi wrote:

  • Margadh na Saoire (Baile Átha Cliath: Sáirséal agus Dill, 1956)
  • Codladh an Ghaiscigh (1973)
  • An Galar Dubhach (1980)
  • An Cion go dtí Seo (1987)
  • "Writing In Modern Irish — A Benign Anachronism?", The Southern Review, 31 Special Issue on Irish Poetry (1995)
  • The Same Age as the State, O'Brien Press, Dublin ISBN 0-86278-885-4; ISBN 978-0-86278-885-8
  • Cérbh í Meg Russell?, Leabhar Breac, ISBN 978-0-89833-232-2 (2008).
  • Scéal Ghearóid Iarla, Leabhar Breac, ISBN 978-0-898332-53-7 (2010).

Mhac an tSaoi and O'Brien together wrote:

  • A Concise History of Ireland, Thames and Hudson, London ISBN 0-500-45011-0 (1972)

Mhac an tSaoi translated Rainer Maria Rilke:


  1. Impala Publications minibio confirming 1922 as year of Mhac an tSaoi's birth
  2. O'Brien, Máire (2004). The Same Age as the State. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 340. ISBN 0299210308.
  3. "Authors profile - Máire Mhac an tSaoi". Cois Life. Archived from the original on 2007-02-24. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
  4. "Máire Mhac an tSaoi". Irish Writers on line. Archived from the original on 2007-06-30. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
  5. Louis de Paor, 'Réamhrá/Introduction', Máire Mhac an tSaoi, An Paróiste Míorúilteach (Dublin, 2011)
  6. "Francis Stuart". Former Members. Aosdána. Retrieved 29 January 2015. and "Máire Mhac an tSaoi". Former Members. Aosdána. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
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