'On Raglan Road' by Patrick Kavanagh and sung by Luke Kelly
Damn Fine Print and Laya Healthcare's City Spectacular (formerly World Street Performance Championship) teamed up to present DAMN FINE CITY Screenprint Spectacular with six of our Irelands leading illlustrators:
Annie Atkins, Chris Judge, M&E, Kevin Waldron, Peter Donnelly and myself.
On September 21st, 1965 a 2,000+ signed petition was handed in to Government Buildings by locals objecting to a proposed ‘visitor centre’ to be located on Raglan Road, Dublin 4. The objections were prompted by concerns of predicted increase in traffic.
The ‘visitor centre’ was to have been dedicated to Patrick Kavanagh and his poem, ’On Raglan Road’, and was a response to the growing interest from abroad in literary tourism.
But, as The Standard outlined in October 1965, this was in itself an irony, given Kavanagh’s comments during his 1962 TV debut. Although this RTE appearance is presented as a “Self Portrait” the poet dismisses the concept, saying that the ‘self’ holds interest only as an illustration. Further, he expresses his distaste at the manufactured storying around the myth of the ‘Irishman’ perpetuated by the English and American press at the time.
Kavanagh had given permission for Luke Kelly to record On Raglan Road some years previously, after a chance meeting in The Bailey bar, off Grafton Street. The poem was to be set to the 17th century air, the Dawning of the Day.
Whether the petition succeeded in preventing the building of the ‘visitor centre’ or if the scale of the project proved financially prohibitive, is unclear. Unfortunately, no architect’s drawings remain of what would surely have been a fitting tribute to both Kavanagh and Kelly. Neither man ever commented publicly on the proposed centre.
'On Raglan Road' by Patrick Kavanagh reprinted by kind permission of the Trustees of the Estate of the late Katherine B Kavanagh,
through the Jonathan Williams Literary Agency.