EFACIS Irish Itinerary Poetry Reading with Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

The map of the world - Eiléan Ní Chuilleánain (© Brid O’Donovan/The Gallery Press)

On the evening of April 19, the Department of English and American Studies at the University of Vienna was honoured to host a live reading by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin as part of the European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies (EFACIS)’s prestigious Irish Itinerary event series, with the kind support of Culture Ireland.

Ní Chuilleanáin is an accomplished and highly decorated Irish poet, translator, and editor who is among the foremost poetic voices of her generation. A Fellow and Professor of English (Emerita) at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, she served as Ireland Professor of Poetry from 2016 to 2019. In 2022, she was elected a Saoi of Aosdána, the highest honour awarded by Ireland’s most distinguished body of creative artists.

Georgina Nugent (©Gizem Doğrul)


This evening of transformative and rich poetry was organised by DDr Georgina Nugent, presently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of English and American Studies, University of Vienna and a former student of Ní Chuilleanáin. It followed closely on the heels of a companion event in Prague, organised by Radvan Markus from Charles University, with the Centres for Irish Studies in the Czech and Austrian capitals working closely together to facilitate and welcome this most esteemed of poets to our respective departments.

DDr Nugent kicked off the evening with an informative and warm introduction, while also ensuring that everyone had drinks in hand and that the atmosphere was relaxed and convivial.

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (© Gizem Doğrul)

Collected poems (© The Gallery Press)


Throughout the evening, Ní Chuilleanáin read from her extensive body of work, all of which is to be found in her Collected Poems (2020), which was awarded the prestigious Pigott Poetry Prize.

She also read from her most recent collection, the The Map of The World (2023), which was nominated for a T.S. Eliot Prize.

Afterwards, attendees were able to purchase copies of the latter and chat with the poet, who also signed copies of her work.


Students, faculty members, friends, and Katherine Dagg of the Irish Embassy Vienna attended the event, many of whom had never attended a poetry reading of this sort, let alone one featuring a poet of such international renown.

Poetry reading (© Gizem Doğrul)

 Reflecting on the event, Lena Fend shared:

“It was a pleasure to attend Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin' poetry reading and be taken on a journey through the poet's works as she read poems from different stages in her creative career. The vivid imagery of her writings made the words come alive and created an enchanting atmosphere. It was also a special experience to hear a poem in Irish and witness the power and magic of poetry in a language that I didn't understand.”

 Tracy Oghogho Uwadiae offered her thoughts on the evening:

 “Ní Chuilleanáin's poetry reading was truly inspiring particularly when she translated one of her Irish poems to English. It really showed the power of exploring different universal concerns and emotions in different languages.”

 Stefanie Haszler writes of the event:

 "I am very glad I took the opportunity to attend this poetry reading. I gained some exciting new inspiration for my own writing, and Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin gained a new fan.

The images she paints with her poems are incredibly vivid. She lets the reader (or, in this case, the listener) experience scenes from other people’s lives for just a few seconds – she offers a glimpse into their situations and emotions, sometimes beautiful, sometimes harrowing. It felt as if I was right there, watching the sunset on an Italian hotel terrace, or listening to the tapping of a girl’s fingers on the tablecloth, as she practices her piano-less concerto.

The poems also included several, delightful mentions of cats, which convinced me to immediately buy The Map of the World."

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Georgina Nugent at the Faculty of Philological and Cultural Studies’ MediaLab (https://medialab.univie.ac.at/) (© Jörg Mühlhans)


Anyone who did not get a chance to attend the reading will still have an opportunity to listen to an interview with Ní Chuilleanáin. It was conducted by Georgina Nugent at the Faculty of Philological and Cultural Studies’ MediaLab as part of the EFACIS Irish Itinerary Podcast series.

The episode will be available to stream from May 16 on Spotify

and on the EFACIS Irish Itinerary Podcast website.


About the poet:

Born in Cork in 1942, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin is one of Ireland's foremost poets and is widely regarded as one of the most renowned and accomplished poets of her generation, both in Ireland and internationally. She has published ten collections of poetry to date, including The Sun-fish (2010) which won the Griffin International Poetry Prize and The Mother House (2019), winner of the Irish Times Poetry Now Award. She has been awarded the Patrick Kavanagh Award, the Irish Times Award for Poetry, the O’Shaughnessy Award of the Irish-American Cultural Institute, the Pigott Poetry Prize, and has twice been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Award for Poetry, most recently last year for her current collection, The Map of the World. A Fellow and Professor of English (Emerita) at Trinity College, Dublin, Ní Chuilleanáin is a founding member of the literary journal Cyphers. From 2016-2019 she served as Ireland Professor of Poetry and, in May 2022, she was elected to the position of Saoi by the members of Aosdána, the highest honour of that affiliation of artists.

More information is available from Poetry Foundation and the Gallery Press.


 Event note by Gizem Doğrul, Georgina Nugent, and Kevin Potter