Death of Tomás Mac Siomóin, Irish Language Poet, Author and Polemicist

Tomás died in Catalonia on the 18th of Feb. He was born in Dublin in 1938. He received a PhD from Cornell University in Biology and taught in Sligo Regional Technical College and the Institute of Technology (Kevin St.), now part of Dublin City University.


He was very involved in Irish language affairs, campaigned for an Irish TV channel, was editor of the Irish language paper ANOIS in the 1990s and of the current affairs and literary magazine COMHAR from 1988 to 1995.


He published collections of poetry, short stories, and novels. He was awarded the prestigious Oireachtas prizes in 2005 and 2007. He engaged in many translations into Irish of Catalan and Spanish poetry. He collaborated with Douglas Sealy in translating the poems of Máirtín Ó Direáin, the premier Irish language poet, into English.


He wrote many pamphlets and books on the harmful lasting effects of colonialism in Ireland and on the Irish language. His comments on cultural and social affairs were published in a series of five booklets between 2004 and 2006. He was a critic of neo-liberalism, publishing much scathing material on it. One such notable book was The Broken Harp: Identity and Language in Modern Ireland (2014). The sequel was The Gael Becomes Irish: the prospects for the Irish language in Ireland today. (2020).


He moved to Catalonia in 1996. learned Catalan (and Spanish) and often outlined how Spanish was oppressing Catalan and the parallels with English and Irish in Ireland. He often worked as a journalist and as a radio commentator on RnaG on matters in Catalonia.


It was reported that he will be cremated in Catalonia and his ashes scattered in the Pyrenees mountains where some of his novels were situated. He will be remembered not alone for his literary achievements but for his work for Irish and other threatened languages and cultures.

Posted by Cathal Ó Luain, Celtic League Convenor.  (20th February 2022)

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