Maire MacEntee Interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

An Irish Voice of Poetry: Conversation with Maire MacEntee, poet; 4/4/00 by Harry Kreisler
Photo by Jane Scherr

Page 4 of 4

Lessons Learned

Looking back at your distinguished career, what lessons would you have for students out there, women students, who have so many more opportunities than the generation that you were part of, and yet you did so much, a lawyer, a diplomat, and a poet ...

Yes, but I didn't take ... again,
MacEntee and O'Brien MacEntee and her husband,
Conor Cruise O'Brien
it's like my poetry, I don't remember taking a conscious decision. All my life I reacted to circumstances, in all my life until I married Conor. My first actual commitment, I would say, in my entire life was marrying Conor. So I'm not a good role model because I have always been reactive and never proactive.

But can you offer us any insight into balancing these many roles? You clearly have done that.

Luck has an enormous amount to do with it, I wish I could say otherwise. I wish I could say that I planned this. I didn't. I wanted to be an actress; I became a Celtic scholar. I thought of teaching; I didn't teach, I became a civil servant. And then, rather late in life, I became a married woman with children.

One final question.

What would you like to achieve by leaving the legacy of this poetry in your native language?

I would like people to realize the importance of being themselves, of acknowledging what they are, where they come from, and of being, to a certain extent, proud of it but above all reconciled to it, being what you are, and of course not cringing. But as you can see, I'm not a child of the new millennium. I'm very much a person of the early decades of the last century.

But an extraordinary one.

Well, not at all.

Thank you very much, Maire MacEntee, for joining us today and sharing your art with us.

Thank you very much for your understanding. Thank you very much indeed, that means a lot to someone who writes poetry.

Thank you. And thank you very much for joining us for this Conversation with History.

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