Blanaid Salkeld

Blánaid Salkeld (1880–1959) was an Irish poet, dramatist, and actor, whose well-known literary salon was attended by, among others, Patrick Kavanagh and Flann O'Brien. Her son, Cecil ffrench Salkeld was one of the leading Irish artists of the day; her granddaughter Beatrice married Brendan Behan.

Early life

Salkeld was born Florence ffrench Mullen in Chittagong, in what was then India but is now Bangladesh, and grew up in Ireland. Her father, a doctor in the Indian Medical Service, was a friend of Rabindranath Tagore and also introduced her to the poetry of Keats when she was six. When she was in Dublin and her father in India, she regularly included her poems in letters to him. He had two volumes of these printed privately in Calcutta. She married Henry Salkeld in 1902 and spent the next six years in India with her husband, who worked in the Indian Civil Service.


Henry Salkeld died in 1909 and Florence returned to Dublin, where she rented a flat at 50 Marlborough Road from the parents of Joseph Plunkett, living there with her children Cecil and Laurence and three Indian and Irish servants. She joined the Abbey Players as an actor, using the Irish form of her name, Blánaid (then spelled Blathnaid). She played the lead role in George Fitzmaurice's three-act play The Country Dressmaker. She started writing verse plays in the 1930s, and one of these, Scarecrow Over the Corn, was staged in 1941 at the Gate Theatre with stage sets designed by Louis le Brocquy.


Salkeld published five books of poetry, Hello, Eternity (Elkin Mathews 1933), A Dubliner (Dublin: Gayfield 1942), The Fox’s Covert (JM Dent 1935), the engine is left running (Gayfield 1937), and Experiment In Error (Aldington, Kent: Hand & Flower Press 1955). The first of these was reviewed favourably by Samuel Beckett.


Salkeld contributed numerous book reviews to The Dublin Magazine. She reviewed a wide range of books, but focused especially on contemporary poetry (for instance, in perceptive reviews of Anna Akhmatova and Pound's Pisan Cantos). She also used her review writing to promote an interest in poetry by women, especially Irish women.

1916 Rising

During the preparations for the Easter Rising, a room on the first floor of 130 St Stephen's Green which she had lent to Thomas MacDonagh was his headquarters.[1]



External links

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