Sullivan, Owen (DNB00)

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SULLIVAN, OWEN (1700?–1784), Irish poet, called in Irish Eoghan Ruadh, or Red-haired Sullivan, was born about 1700 in Slieve Luachra, co. Kerry, and was one of the chief jacobite poets of the south of Ireland. Poetry proved inadequate to sustain him, and he earned a living as an itinerant potato-digger, always continuing the studies which he had begun in a hedge school. The potato-digger, resting in a farm-kitchen, interposed with success in a classical dispute between a parish priest and the farmer's son, who had returned from a French college. The farmer set him up in a school at Annagh, near Charleville, but after a time he fell in love with Mary Casey, whose charms he has celebrated, and took to an idle life. He wrote numerous songs, of which many manuscript copies are extant, and several are printed in John O'Daly's ‘Reliques of Jacobite Poetry’ (1844). When he opened his school he issued a touching poem of four stanzas addressed to the parish priest. He wrote satires on the Irish volunteers and numerous poems denouncing the English. He died of fever at Knocknagree, co. Kerry, in 1784, and was buried at Nohoval in the vicinity.

[Memoir in O'Daly's Jacobite Poetry, Dublin, 1844; Works.]

N. M.