Clifford, Sigerson (1913–85), author, was born Edward Bernard Clifford on 8 May 1913, at Dean St., Cork, son of Michael Clifford, tailor, and Mary Anne Clifford (née Sigerson), both of Caherciveen, Co. Kerry. The family returned to Caherciveen when he was two, and he was educated at the local Christian Brothers national and secondary schools. For a period he lived with his grandfather Edward (‘Ned’) Sigerson, a noted local story-teller, who was a formative influence, introducing him to much of the folklore and oral culture of south Kerry. He was a bookish boy and began writing in his early teens, at first under the Irish version of his name, Éamonn Ó Clubhain, but later settling upon a combination of his parents' surnames. At 19 he joined the civil service, entering the Department of Social Welfare. He worked in various employment exchanges around the country, including Dungloe and Caherciveen, before permanently transferring to Dublin (1943). It was during his stint in Caherciveen that he wrote his first play, ‘The policeman's paradise’, a gentle send-up of the lack of local activity during the war of independence. This was typical of his literary output in that it was almost exclusively focused on Kerry, and the Iveragh peninsula in particular.
Initially poetry was his favoured genre and he produced a number of volumes, among them Travelling tinkers (1951), the first publication by Dolmen Press, and Ballads of a bogman (1955). The latter was extremely popular; its poems, such as ‘I am Kerry’ and ‘The ghost train to Croke Park’, dwelt on the attractive themes of landscape, place, people, and rural culture. Although capable of some striking images, much of this work is very uneven, and he soon began to focus on prose. In total he wrote eleven plays, most of which were performed on the amateur circuit, but his drama on Daniel O'Connell (qv), ‘The great pacificator’, did receive a two-week run in the Abbey (1947). His short stories were read on Radio Éireann and published in The Kerryman, Evening Press, and Irish Press; a collection of these, The red-haired woman and other stories, was published posthumously (1989). It was probably as a ballad-writer that he was best known to the public, his composition ‘The boys of Barr na Sráide’ being hugely popular during the 1940s, 1950s, and beyond. He retired in 1973, dying suddenly (1 January 1985) at his home in Glenageary, Co. Dublin. His remains were brought to Caherciveen for burial.
He married (1945) Sheila (Marie) Eady, typist, of Cork; they had five sons and two daughters.