Tribute to Richard Murphy and Nicola Gordon Bowe

Feb 20, 2018

We want to acknowledge the recent deaths of two friends of Yeats Society Sligo – Anglo-Irish poet, writer and broadcaster Richard Murphy and Nicola Gordon Bowe, pioneering art historian. Both enriched our lives and contributed to our understanding of poetry, art, history and life.

Richard Murphy called the west of Ireland his heartland; Mayo was the county of his birth. He travelled the world, but he loved to return to Ireland, and said he always felt a peace descend when he crossed the Shannon. He wrote poetry all his life and much of what he saw and felt about Ireland’s west coast informed and inspired his work. He took to heart TS Eliot’s advice that ‘poetry was song and his advice to students at the 2007 Yeats International Summer School was “Never mind the bum notes, keep the music going until the end.” He won many awards, was appointed to Aosdana in 1982, published many volumes of poetry and kept a detailed diary all his life. He died in his Sri Lankan home in January 2018. He was 90.

Nicola (Nikki) Gordon Bowe was born in England but her early studies awakened a passion for Irish art history, specifically in stained glass. Her enduring interest in the Arts & Crafts movement ensured its rightful place in Ireland’s artistic tradition. She had a special interest in the Yeats’ sisters Elizabeth and Susan Yeats and their significant contribution to the Gaelic Revival through embroidery and print. Nicola was the guest speaker at the first LilyLolly CraftFest, part of Yeats Day celebrations, in 2013. She lectured in art design at the National College of Art & Design and was the leading expert on both Harry Clarke and Wilhelmina Geddes. At the time of her death in mid January, she was preparing a study of artist Evie Hone. She is remembered as a passionate and generous woman who shared her love of art and its impact on history and politics widely and with great enthusiasm.

Our thoughts are with their families and friends.