Kevin Faller, Galway poet

Kevin Faller was born in the Crescent in 1920. His father was John Patrick Faller and his mother was Madeleine Quinn from Tuam. They both died within six months of each other when Kevin was very young, so he and his brother Liam were brought up by their grandfather Stephen Faller. Kevin’s aunt Minnie, who was married to Nicholas O’Halloran, also helped to rear him.

He grew up in Devon Park, and he used to play in Boland’s Wood and O’Hara’s Wood and in the general Devon Park/Taylor’s Hill area. He was educated in the Jes where he became very involved in rowing and coxed a number of successful crews. He also appeared in a number of drama productions there. Later, he went to UCG, studied medicine, and qualified as a doctor.

He moved to Dublin and worked for a time with Browne and Nolan before getting a job with another publishing house, The Sign of the Three Candles. He became a journalist with The Standard for a time. He adapted a number of works as radio plays for RTE, one of the major ones being Anna Karenina. He wrote several of his own plays on a contract basis for the station, wrote episodes of the famous radio soap The Kennedys of Castleross, and he also worked on a television series called Broadsheet. He was best known as a producer on radio programmes. His love of Galway brought him back regularly to the west which inspired many famous documentaries such as the one he did about the well-known characters and salmon fishermen who frequented the Submarine, a pub known as The Galway Arms today. He left the Three Candles to work for the Irish Press, then he freelanced for a while before eventually joining the Irish Independent, primarily in a sub-editorial capacity, but he still managed to write many articles about the west of Ireland.

He was married to Una Cloherty from Henry Street. He was an elegant and distinguished man who much preferred the background to the limelight. His greatest achievement was undoubtedly the poetry he wrote and had published. His poems appeared in book form and in many journals on both sides of the Atlantic, and they won him many prizes. Although he was a man of words, he used them very sparingly and kept their number down to the bare minimum. Brendan Kennelly once said of him that he “would abbreviate the English language if he could”.

Kevin Faller died on January 18, 1983 and is buried in St Fintan’s Cemetery in Sutton.

Some of his titles include Lyrics and Script published in 1947; Genesis published in New York in 1953; Island Lyrics published by The Sign of the Three Candles in 1973; Lament for Bull Island, 1973, which included this portrait of him drawn by AD in 1963; and Memoirs published in 1983.

This afternoon (Thursday ) at 4pm, our Mayor Councillor Terry O’Flaherty will unveil one of Kevin Faller’s poems which has been etched in stone by David Fahy of Fahy Memorials. It is situated on the River Walk near O’Brien’s Bridge and is part of an ongoing Cúirt project of placing poems relating to Galway in parts of the city which feature in the poem. Faller’s poem is very short, a bittersweet contemplation of his native city and its waterways.

Tomorrow afternoon, April 26, a poem by Gerald Dawe entitled ‘The Tribune’ will be unveiled on the facade of the Connacht Tribune offices in Market Street as part of the same Cúirt project. Gerry Dawe edited the groundbreaking page Writing in the West in that paper for many years, and his poem is very evocative of his time here. All are welcome to both of these unveilings.


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