Eavan Boland

Irish poet, author, and professor Eavan Frances Boland passed away at her home in Dublin on Monday April 27th at the age of 75. Stanford University, where Boland taught since 1995, said in a statement that the cause was a stroke. Born September 24, 1944 in Dublin, Boland was the director of creative writing at Stanford for 21 years and a recipient of the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry. Boland’s work deals with the Irish national identity, and the role of Irish women in history. Boland is survived by her husband Kevin Casey, two daughters Sarah and Eavan, and four grandchildren.

Boland wrote “The Emigrant Irish“ one of the great poems of emigration and how hard it was for Irish forced to leave. Former president Mary Robinson used it as her Light in the Window initiative to always have a light shining for emigrants welcoming them home in her presidential residence Aras an Uachtarain.

The Light In The Window

Like oil lamps, we put them out the back —

of our houses, of our minds. We had lights

better than, newer than and then

a time came, this time and now

we need them. Their dread, makeshift example:

they would have thrived on our necessities.

What they survived we could not even live.

By their lights now it is time to

imagine how they stood there, what they stood with,

that their possessions may become our power:

Cardboard. Iron. Their hardships parceled in them.

Patience. Fortitude. Long-suffering

in the bruise-colored dusk of the New World.

And all the old songs. And nothing to lose.


“I certainly don’t have any nostalgia for Irish history, I can tell you that,” she said in a 2014 interview with Nashville Review. “Nobody would who came out of that island.”

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