Trinity launches the Brendan Kennelly literary archive in Library

The archive will include the life’s work of the poet and novelist

Earlier today, Trinity launched the Brendan Kennelly Literary Archive at Trinity’s library. 

The launch was made over a Zoom webinar, by a collection of speakers including Provost Patrick Prendergast, Librarian Helen Shelton and niece of Brendan Kennelly, Mary McAuliff. 

The archive will include the life’s work of poet, novelist and Trinity alumnus Brendan Kennelly. Alongside his notable body of work, Kennelly was also Professor of Modern Literature at Trinity until 2005. After his retirement he received the title “Professor Emeritus” by College. 

Speaking at the webinar, Prendergast expressed that the launch of the archive is a “momentous occasion for Irish writing”. He stated that it contains almost 200 cartons, and said that they held off announcing its launch until they had an archivist to provide a detailed description of the archive.

Prendergast also expressed that he hopes it’s launch will encourage others with important literary and historic archives to donate them to the Library, as College is “currently embarked on a large scale library renewal project.”

Trinity Librarian Helen Shenton spoke on the launch, saying she is “delighted” to be celebrating the launch of the archive. She stated that the “large” archive has been held in the Library for some time, and declared that it “reflects several aspects of Brendan Kennelly’s life” including his “national and international role” as a poet, teacher and public figure. 

She asserted that the archive is going to be of interest to scholars, and “will become a broad launchpad for many scholarly careers in generations to come”.

Niece of Brendan Kennelly and founder of the Brendan Kennelly Trust, Mary McAuliff said the archive will “allow scholars to fully consider his work and literary legacy”. Speaking also was English Professor Jarlath Killeen, who referred to Kennelly as a “rockstar” and expressed that he was “very excited” about the “possibilities that will open up to scholars in many different disciplines”.

Included in the webinar were tributes from President Michael D. Higgins, Irish musician Bono, poet Paula Meehan and Trinity student Lily O’Byrne. It was concluded by a reading from Brendan Kennelly himself, who recited one of his own poems.

Bonnie Gill

Bonnie Gill is current News Analysis Editor for Trinity News and previously served as the College Correspondent. She is a Senior Sophister Film Studies and English Literature student.