Mícheál Ó Gaoithín (1904–74), poet and writer, was born 3 January 1904 on the Great Blasket island, one of the six surviving children of renowned storyteller Peig Sayers and her husband, Pádraig ‘Flint’ Ó Guithín, a small farmer and fisherman.
Mícheál Ó Gaoithín became a fisherman after finishing primary school and worked on the family farm until around 1930 when he decided to follow his other siblings to Springfield, Mass., in the USA, in search of work. Lacking a job and being in poor health, he soon returned to the Blasket Islands. His interest in literature and folklore began at an early age and like his mother, Peig, he was a renowned storyteller.
Approximately six years before he died he took an interest in painting and drawing with the encouragement of the artist Maria Simonds-Gooding. A number of his paintings appeared in an exhibition on the Dingle peninsula entitled ‘An ghaeltacht bheo’ which opened in Dunquin National School on Easter Sunday, 1974. He entrusted his paintings to Simonds-Gooding and they are now held at the Muckross House Folk Museum outside Killarney.
An File (The Poet), Mícheál Ó Gaoithín, The Blasket Painter is a selection of 55 out of Ó Gaoithín’s paintings and drawings from his collection of 200 is accompanied by written responses to the work by novelist Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and art historian Catherine Marshall. This book will be published to coincide with a special exhibition of Peig Sayers at the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) in 2022.