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22 April 2024  

NUI Chancellor pays tribute to Máire Mhac an tSaoi


Paying tribute to Máire Mhac an tSaoi, Dr Maurice Manning said ‘Ireland has lost one of its most extraordinary public figures. Máire Mhac an tSaoi participated in many key moments in Irish history, as a diplomat and as a poet. She was an exceptional scholar in a number of fields, including law, English, Irish and Celtic Studies. As she noted herself in The Same Age as the State, she ‘never worked so hard’ as she did when competing for an NUI Travelling Studentship. This was awarded in 1942 but war prevented her travelling until 1945. After her time at the Sorbonne she became the first woman to enter the Department of External Affairs through competition. She excelled there, and at the UN, but was happy to focus on her literary work when the ‘marriage ban’ forced her to leave the public service in 1962. She dedicated her time to creative and poetry writing, where she had revolutionary impact. The National University of Ireland honoured Máire’s contribution to Irish cultural life with an honorary Doctor of Celtic Studies degree in 1991. She continued to create work of importance for many decades after, particularly in Irish language literature and poetry. Máire’s life was entwined with that of the Irish state; the daughter of a veteran of the War of Independence, Sean MacEntee, born the same year as the Irish Free State, and greatly influenced by her childhood visits to the Munster Gaeltacht. She was a modern, international woman with a deep love of the Irish language, literature and culture; her brave literary works constitute a remarkable legacy.

On behalf of the National University of Ireland, I extend my sympathy to Máire’s children, Patrick and Margaret, her step-daughter Fedelma and their families on their great loss.’


Further information from:

Dr Attracta Halpin
National University of Ireland
49 Merrion Square
Dublin 2, D02 V583
Ph: 01 4392424
Twitter: @NUIMerrionSq
Facebook: National University of Ireland