Maude, (Maighréad) Caitlín (1941–82), poet, writer, singer, actress, dramatist and Irish-language activist, was born 22 May 1941 in Casla, Co. Galway, second child of John Joseph Maude (Seán Ó Máidhbh) and his wife Mai Ridge (Máire Nic an Iomaire), a teacher. Caitlín received her primary schooling on the island of Oileán Mór, Rosmuc, which has a causeway connection with the mainland when the tide is out. She studied for the leaving certificate in Coláiste Chroí Mhuire, Spiddal, Co. Galway. Caitlín said later that Sister Ailbhe of the Mercy Order who taught her Irish in Spiddal was the person who most cultivated her confidence in her writing ability. In 1958 she commenced study in University College Galway (UCG), taking English, Irish, French and mathematics. Subsequently she taught in Co. Kildare, Co. Mayo and Co. Wicklow.
After a period teaching and working at other occupations in London and Dublin, she won international acclaim for her lead performance in ‘An Triail’, by Máiréad Ní Ghráda (qv), staged during the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1964. She co-wrote the play ‘An Lasair Choille’ with Michael Hartnett (qv). Greatly interested in music, she was an accomplished violinist (but did not continue with the instrument) and an internationally acclaimed sean-nós unaccompanied singer. Gael-Linn released her sole long-playing record, Caitlín, in 1975. As well as poems, she composed plays, short stories, articles, and reviews (many of which were only published after her death). She married (27 December 1969) Cathal Ó Luain; they had one child, Caomhán. Caitlín had a particular interest in health and curing. She had a super-ordinate interest in spirituality, which she envisaged becoming ever more prominent in her work, and a particular empathy with the poor. Actively involved in many political campaigns, particularly campaigns relating to the Irish language, she established An Bonnán Buí, a social club for Irish speakers, in Dublin in the early 1970s. She was deeply involved in the establishment of the all-Irish Scoil Santain in Tallaght, Co. Dublin. A second Irish-medium school, named Scoil Chaitlín Maude in her honour, was subsequently established in the area after her death. Caitlín was hugely committed to the development of links between Ireland and the other Celtic countries. She died from cancer 6 June 1982, the anniversary of her parents’ marriage. She is buried in Saint Joseph's cemetery, Bohernabreena, Co. Dublin.
Although critics and literary practitioners of a feminist disposition have largely ignored her work, Caitlín Maude was a fine poet who made a substantial contribution to the poetry of her time. She exploited the linguistic resources of her native community to express the experiences of those without a sense of community. She published twenty-four poems (from a corpus of fifty-four posthumously published in book form). Relationships of one type or another provide the theme for many of Caitlín Maude's poems: unsatisfying relationships, platonic relationships, sexual relationships; the absence of relationship; familial relationships; unhappy relationships (between the generations). Maturation and growing self-awareness form the basis of several poems. The plight of the isolated and lonely individual is the focus of much attention. The religious tendency of the poetry owes much to Christian spirituality and to the spirituality of other cultures. A noticeable feature of the poetry is its humour, its satire and its dramatic quality. Love, poetics, aesthetics and her own condition all feature in the poems. As well as utilising her native dialect, Caitlín's poems show evidence of wide reading and contact with other dialects. She utilised the language that most suited her literary requirements. Her prose comprises three plays, seven short stories, two reviews, ten articles, and one parable. Honesty and earnestness are ever present in her work. She bequeathed an important collection of literary and dramatic compositions, as well as eight examples of her remarkable singing ability. This impressive volume of work cannot be ignored when attempting to outline the contours of Ireland's literary, dramatic and singing heritage.
More information on this entry is available at the National Database of Irish-language biographies (Ainm.ie).