Mary Lavin: First female Irish writer to have a public area named after her

Mary Lavin, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Geneva Pattison

For the first time in Irish history, a public area will be named after a female Irish writer. The writer in question is the pioneer of women’s writing, Mary Lavin.

The new Mary Lavin Place will consist of the square at Wilton Park and will link to Lad Lane. She lived for a large part of her life in Lad Lane and frequently entertained fellow writers. The official naming ceremony took place on the 25th anniversary of her death, with her relatives present to mark the important historical occasion. A piece of public art will also be commissioned to pay tribute to her literary legacy.

Mary Lavin was born in America in 1912, but moved to Ireland at the age of 10, living in Meath during her early years.

Lavin’s first collection of short stories, called Tales from Bective Bridge was published in 1942 and it won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Her accolades did not stop there. She went on to be awarded Guggenheim Fellowships in both 1959 and 1961 and the Katherine Mansfield Prize in 1961.

Her life was complicated by unfortunate events. She lost her first husband and father to her three children in 1954 and later in 1991, she lost her second husband.

She was renowned for her mastery of the short story, but she also published several novels, The House in Clewe Street, Mary O’Grady and A Likely Story.

In 1992, when she was in retirement, she was honoured by Aosdána with the position of Saoi, one of the the highest distinctions available to people.