Irish Writers: Michael Longley

Irish Writers: Michael Longley

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Belfast, Mayo




Transmission 01/05/1993


19min 09sec







Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Channel 4, Department for Communities, Flying Fox Films, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

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Channel 4, Flying Fox Films, ITV

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Profile of Michael Longley (b.1939), one of of Northern Ireland's foremost poets and author of renowned collections, including Gorse Fires (1991) and The Weather in Japan (2000) and The Stairwell (2015).

In this episode of Irish Writers, Longley discusses the life experiences and cultural touchstones that were pivotal in his development as a writer. He shares his thoughts on the writing experience, discusses the writers he considers great and quotes from his own poems.

A significant part of Longley's identity comes from the fact that he is a twin. "From the moment of conception, right through birth and babyhood and through to the age of 16 or 17," he never spent a night on his own. Despite this, both Michael and his twin were vastly different in terms of personality, something they came to appreciate in their later years.

He describes Belfast and the West of Ireland as the "two poles in my life". It is in a remote part of Mayo, called Carrigskeewaun, where he feels he has truly grown both personally and professionally. Inspiring some of his most beautiful nature poems, not least ‘Remembering Carrigskeewaun’, the townland is also home to a family tradition, it become customary that each of Longley's children, newborn, is carried by hand to the secluded beach.


ITV Schools was the educational television service set up in 1957 by the Independent Television Authority, broadcasting learning programmes for children ages 5 to 18 across ITV-affiliated stations. It was an example of public service broadcasting on a commerical television network. ITV moved its schools programming to Channel 4 in 1987, although ITV continued to produce programmes and the service continued to use the ITV name for another six years.The last ITV Schools programme on Channel 4 aired on Monday, 28th June, 1993.   



Produced by Ulster Television and Flying Fox Films for Channel Four Schools.

Producer: Neil Martin and Catherine Gifford

Director: David Hammond.



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