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Benedict Kiely

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Benedict Kiely

Benedict Kiely (1919–2007) was born in County Tyrone, on 15 August 1919, and spent his formative years in Omagh. As a teenager, he felt the urge to become a writer and dreamed of the life of a scholar. He trained as a Jesuit priest but after a lengthy convalescence from a spinal ailment, he decided that the religious life was not for him and he took an arts degree at University College, Dublin. His first novel, Land Without Stars, was published in 1946, at which time he was a leader-writer on the Irish Independent. He spent almost fifteen years as literary editor of the Irish Press. Retiring from full-time journalism in the mid-1960s, he became a visiting professor of creative writing at several American universities, later lecturing at UCD. Kiely’s regular contributions to RTÉ Radio’s ‘Sunday Miscellany’ included short talks, mostly on literature and other Irish topics, for over a quarter of a century between the 1970s and 1990s. It was in this capacity that his mellifluous voice became so widely known. He was the author of ten novels and six collections of short stories, in addition to numerous works of non-fiction. He was awarded honorary doctorates by the National University of Ireland and Queen’s University, Belfast. In 1996 he received the highest honour of Aosdána when he was elected a Saoi in recognition of his contribution to literature. After a short illness in early 2007, Benedict Kiely died in Dublin at the age of eighty-seven.