Collected Poems 1943-1995

Roy McFadden

About the book…

For more than half a century, Roy McFadden has been one of Ireland’s leading poets. Over eight collections he has charted a fierce individualistic landscape in counterpoise to the civic disintegration of the north of Ireland. In 1950 he wrote: ‘Our roots travel widely and ignore boundaries and cultural geographical units. What we need is a way of life, personal, dignified and purposeful ... Rilke’s sombre reflection is painfully relevant: You must alter your life.’

Introduced by Philip Hobsbaum, Collected Poems 1943-1995 stands as a testimony to the artistic vitality of that quest

Photo of the author, Roy McFadden

About the author…

Born in Downpatrick on the 14th of November 1921, but soon after his birth relocated to Belfast, McFadden was to become a prominent lawyer and major figure in the Belfast literary scene.

McFadden graduated in Law from Queen's University, Belfast, in 1944 having already edited the important Ulster Voices and Irish Voices anthologies (1943) and himself been published in Russian Summer (1942) and Three New Poets (1942). Between 1948 and 1953 he edited, along with Barbara Hunter, Rann, a journal and Ulster quarterly of poetry and comment. 

McFadden’s first major publication Swords and Ploughshares (1943) was followed by Flowers for a Lady (1945) and The Heart's Townland (1947). The next twenty-four years were a drought for collections of his poetry but not for smaller pieces that he contributed to various publications. During this time he also presented Poetry Notebooks for The Arts in Ulster a BBC production and composed The Angry Hound, a verse play for radio.

These dormant years were tallied by proportional domestic and professional activity. Developing his legal practise and raising his five children, McFadden would not publish a collection again until the authoritative and mature, The Garryowen (1971). Next came Verifications (1977) and two years later, A Watching Brief (1979) was published. 

The work, as the legal sense of the title suggests, merges his profession as a lawyer with his passion as a poet, creating the chilling and poignant premise of law and lawlessness. The Selected Roy McFadden (1983) and Letters to the Hinterland (1986) followed. Four years later arrived After Seymour’s Funeral (1990), a work of technical mastery. His final collection was Last Poems (2002). 

Roy McFadden died in Belfast on 15 September 1999.