The Parish, The Universe

About the project

The inspiration for this exhibition was sparked in late 2019 following an afternoon spent poring over the material of the Patrick Kavanagh Archive. I had just started a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship at the School of English in UCD with the earnest ambition to recover a sense of the vibrant and varied world of the literary magazine in Ireland and Britain during the mid-twentieth century. 

That first afternoon, I sat in the quiet of the Special Collections Reading Room immersed in the vivid company of the letters, manuscripts and photographs that make up the life of one of our most celebrated poets. Working with Evelyn Flanagan, Eugene Roche and the Special Collections team, and Lucy Collins in the School of English, my research led me towards a new understanding of the role that magazines played in Kavanagh’s life across the entire spectrum of his literary career. From the first letters Kavanagh wrote to magazine editors, and the excitement lifting off the page to his sister Celia with each new publication, to the late fervour of his own self-publishing adventure with his brother Peter.

It was my hope to share the richness of this material with an audience beyond the confines of the Reading Room, and the collaboration with MoLI as part of its digital collection initiative made this possible. The exhibition was also made possible by the support and encouragement of Jonathan Williams and the Trustees of the Kavanagh Estate. Archives are precious resources, not only for the discovery of students and researchers but as living records of our cultural heritage. This exhibition aims to capture the experience of encountering the archive and the material that gives shape to a remarkable life.

Dr Conor Linnie, December 2022

Dr Conor Linnie is a writer, editor and curator. He developed this exhibition as part of a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship at the School of English, Drama and Film, University College Dublin. Conor previously curated the 2019 digital exhibition The Poetics of Print: The Private Press Tradition and Irish Poetry, with the Library of Trinity College Dublin. He is co-editor with Dr Maria Johnston of the essay collection Irish Women Poets Rediscovered (Cork University Press 2021). 


Curation Dr Conor Linnie
Creative Direction Benedict Schlepper-Connolly
Producer Ian Dunphy
Developer Stuart Cusack
Curatorial & ProductionAssistant Anthony Nolan
Audio Recording Ian Dunphy, Anthony Nolan
Cameras & Video Editing Ian Dunphy, Anthony Nolan

All images courtesy of UCD Special Collection, unless otherwise noted.


This exhibition would not have been possible without the support of Jonathan Williams, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and the Trustees of the Patrick Kavanagh Estate, Moya Cannon, Peter Sirr, Eunan O’Halpin, and Hugh Mohan. Special thanks to Evelyn Flanagan, Eugene Roche and the UCD Library Special Collections team; Associate Professor Lucy Collins and the School of English, Drama and Film, UCD; and Kevin Connolly. Thanks also to Rebecca O’Connor, Susan Tomaselli, Liam Harrison, Catherine Hearn, and Declan Meade for their participation.

The project was supported by the Irish Research Council, UCD College of Arts and Humanities Funding and UCD Seed Funding. MoLI’s digital programme is supported by Ebow, the digital agency.