Dermot Healy was born in Finea, County Westmeath, in 1947. His prose books include Banished Misfortune (stories), The Bend for Home (memoir), Fighting with Shadows, A Goat’s Song and Sudden Times (novels) and Long Time, No See (2011).

He wrote and directed plays, including The Long Swim, On Broken Wings and Mister Staines, and wrote the screenplay for Our Boys, directed by Cathal Black.

The Gallery Press has published his five collections of poems, The Ballyconnell Colours (1992), What the Hammer (1998), The Reed Bed (2001), A Fool’s Errand (2010) and a posthumous collection The Travels of Sorrow (2015)

Dermot Healy won the Hennessy Award (1974 and 1976), the Tom Gallon Award (1983), and the Encore Award (1995). In 2011, he was shortlisted for the Poetry Now Award for his 2010 poetry collection, A Fool’s Errand.

Long Time, No See (Faber & Faber, 2011) was selected for the International IMPAC Literary Award, the world’s most valuable literary award for a single work in the English language, by libraries in Russia and Norway.

A member of Aosdána, Healy was also part of its governing body, the Toscaireacht. Dermot Healy lived in Ballyconnell, County Sligo, where he founded and edited the literary journals The Drumlin and Force 10.

Dermot Healy lived in Ballyconnell, County Sligo until his sudden death, aged 66, on 29 June 2014.

The Freedom Tree

The rings thinned in the tree
As the drought grew,
All that summer long the ring
On your marriage finger

Loosened, till you lost it
In a snow drift in the Rockies;
But when the weather softened
The ring grew again wide behind the bark:

In a stream below the tall poplars
The vow glistened;
We bought another, and woke
Years later to thunder in the dark.

I’ll be buried beside him,
You said to the girl in the back.
Now it is not one of us will die,
But two, alone, and yet,

With each death
The closer we grew;
The greater the bondage,
The greater the freedom

We knew.