This is an immense loss from the firmament of Irish and international poetry. Ciaran’s was a voice full of zest, vigour and extraordinary wordplay.
He trod the high wire of literature in many dazzling works across poetry and prose. He was also a very accomplished musician, playing the traditional flute and tin whistle.
It was always a treat to observe him reach for the whistle into the inner pocket of one of his beautifully cut jackets. More often than not, this occurred in the warm and constant presence of his wife Deirdre Shannon, herself a very fine fiddle player.
He had about him a beguiling kinetic energy, an energy that found a worthy platform on hurling fields in his early years. He was perhaps the only award-winning poet to play hurling at a minor level for his county.
In the acknowledgments in his first collection, poet Stephen Sexton put it well in saying that language itself is indebted to Ciaran.
Ciaran’s legacy to us is that incredible body of work, including so many era-defining poems, along with the bands of brilliant new voices whom he has introduced to the world through his inspired stewardship of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University.
We will miss that restless imagination, and count ourselves lucky to have another book to celebrate when the Gallery Press launches his new collection Still Life in a few weeks’ time.
Our thoughts are with Deirdre, and their children, and his siblings, especially our friend and colleague Liam, his extended family and wide circle of friends and admirers.