Explore UCD

UCD Home >

Thomas Kinsella Collection

Thomas Kinsella

(Photo courtesy of Deborah Boardman)

UCD Library Special Collections holds The Thomas Kinsella Collection, of his published works.
The Collection

This material is Thomas Kinsella's personal collection of his own published works.  It was built up over many years and was donated by Kinsella in July 2013.

The books form a discrete collection that reflects the phases of Kinsella's career in poetry. The book collection was arranged in a specific order by Kinsella himself, and this order has been strictly maintained.

The collection contains approximately 700 items, mostly books and pamphlets, with some ephemeral material.

Collection Highlights
  • The earliest Kinsella material in The National Student magazine.
  • Dolmen Press and Peppercanister imprint poetry collections, containing early Dolmen Press chapbooks, pamphlets and ephemera.
  • Various editions of the Táin are represented, many signed by the author and illustrator.
  • Kinsella as editor and translator: the New Oxford Book of Irish Poetry and An Duanaire 1600 - 1900: Poems of the Dispossessed, co-edited with Seán Ó Tuama.
Biographical History

Kinsella was born in Inchicore, Dublin in 1928 and spent most of his childhood in the Kilmainham/Inchicore area. In 1946, after a brief period studying science at University College Dublin, he joined the civil service. He served in the Irish Land Commission, then in the Department of Finance, until he resigned in 1965 to take up a position as poet-in-residence at Southern Illinois University. He was later appointed Professor of English at Temple University, Philadelphia.

Three of his early collections, published by Dolmen Press, Another September (1958); Downstream (1962) and Nightwalker and other poems (1967) were choices of the Poetry Book Society.

The Táin, his acclaimed translation of the Irish prose epic Tain Bo Cuailnge, illustrated by a unique series of brush drawings by artist Louis le Brocquy, was published in 1969.  In 1972, Notes from the Land of the Dead was published, and in the same year Thomas Kinsella established the Peppercanister imprint for the primary publication of his works in Ireland.

Sequences and long poems on personal, family and historic themes were collected and published by Oxford University Press as Blood and Family (1988) and From Centre City (1994). Collected Poems 1956-1994 was published by Oxford University Press in 1996 and a second Collected Poems appeared from Carcanet Press in 2001. A Dublin Documentary, which included photographs and documentary material, was published by O’Brien Press in 2007.

Thomas Kinsella received Guggenheim Fellowships in 1968/9 and 1971/2, the Dennis Devlin Memorial Awards in 1966, 1969, 1992 and 1994. He is included in The Great Modern Poets, a recent anthology of the best poets and poetry since 1900. He was granted the Freedom of the City of Dublin in 2007. He received an honorary doctorate in literature from UCD in 1984; he was also awarded the highest honour that the University can bestow, the Ulysses medal, in 2008. Trinity College Dublin awarded him an honorary doctorate in Literature (LittD) in 2018.

Access and Use

UCD Special Collections

James Joyce Library, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 7149 | E: special.collections@ucd.ie