Róisín Kelly Readings

Róisín Kelly Readings

‘I first came across Róisín Kelly and her work at the Cork International Poetry Festival  few years ago, and was struck by the composure, poise and precision of her reading, and also by the intensity, depth and luminescence of her poems.  They succeed in being both intimate and personal, but also undoubtedly political.' - Victoria Kennefick, Unlaunched Books podcast


Róisín Kelly's first full-length collection Mercy was published by Bloodaxe on 26 March 2020. It was due to be launched at the Cork International Poetry Festival on 27 March 2020 but sadly the festival had to had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Her reading at the Cúirt International Festival of Literature went ahead as a digital audio event. 

In November 2021, Róisín Kelly also took part in the online Poetry in Aldeburgh Irish poets finale A Dream of Myself, alongside Séan Hewitt, Victoria Kennefick and fellow Bloodaxe poet Aoife Lyall.  All have published debut collections during the pandemic. A recording of this event can be found here. Victoria Kennefick introduces Róisín Kelly at 32:45 and reads ‘Oranges’ from Mercy.

In Mercy, Róisín Kelly attempts to reconcile her Catholic background with her pagan heritage. Both intimate and political, her poems of love and loss sit alongside those looking at women's rights and oppressed peoples across the world. Her poetry draws on religion, nature, astronomy, history and mythology, as well as on her own extensive travels. Donald Trump's mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, features in a poem that takes its first line from 'The Colonel' in Carolyn Forché's The Country Between Us

Born in west Belfast and raised in Leitrim, Róisín now lives in Cork. Her pamphlet Rapture (Southword, 2016) was described by Leanne O’Sullivan as ‘fierce and mysterious, beautiful and compelling’.


Róisín Kelly was interviewed on the new Unlaunched Books  podcast on 16 April 2020.  Róisín read and talked about poems from Mercy. She was in conversation with Victoria Kennefick, who praised the 'intensity, depth and luminescence' of her poems. 1st item.  Listen via SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/poetryireland/unlaunched-books-episode-3

'In America' from Mercy was featured on RTE Culture's website as their Poem of the Day for 24 March 2020 here

Carol Rumens discussed 'Easter' from Mercy in her Poem of the Week column for 6 April 2020 on The Guardian's website here.



Friday 24 April 2020, 11am-12noon, Cúirt International Festival of Literature

Poetry Podcast – Michael Gorman and Róisín Kelly

Separated by a generation but both drawing on Ireland’s distinct landscape, social history and mythology for their inspiration, poets Roisín Kelly and Michael Gorman are brought together on this live podcast to read from their latest collections. Róisín Kelly read from her first full-length collection of poetry, Mercy

The podcast began with Róisín reading and introducing five poems from Mercy: ‘The Cave of Melassini’, ‘Mercy’, ‘Mar-a-Lago’, ‘Tuam’ and ‘Tom Barry’.  The second half of the podcast was devoted to discussion, moderated by  Annemarie Ní Churreáin.  This event was audio only.

Mercy was for me a kind of lamplit and starlit exploration of self and wilderness, utterly glorious in its haunted depictions of the human body and the physical landscape.’ - Annemarie Ní Churreáin

Listen via SoundCloud:


Róisín Kelly reads from Mercy

Róisín Kelly reads and introduces four poems from Mercy, 'Mars in Retrograde', 'Tuam', 'Chameleon' and 'Tigers in Leitrim’’, filmed by Neil Astley in Galway in April 2019.


Róisín Kelly was interviewed on RTE Radio 1's The Poetry Programme in 2018, alongside two other young Cork-based poets.  She read poems from her highly-acclaimed chapbook Rapture (Southword, 2016).  All three poets spoke at the opening of the programme (from 4.15), and Róisín read her poem 'Virgin' from 9:00 and 'Rose' at 26:00 (the latter is included in Mercy).  Click here to listen.

[27 February 2020]

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