Thomas MacGreevy, Director 1950 - 1963

Thomas MacGreevy, NGI Director 1950-1963 (Portrait by George Collie, 1904-1975, NGI. 4029)

Thomas MacGreevy (1893-1967) was born in County Kerry in October 1893.  At age 16, he joined the British Civil Service as a clerk and at the outbreak of World War 1 was promoted to an intelligence post with the Admiralty. He enlisted in 1917, and saw active service at the Ypres, Salient and the Somme, being wounded twice.  After the war, MacGreevy studied at Trinity College Dublin and became involved in various library organisations.  He began publishing articles in Irish periodicals and wrote his first poems.  In 1925 he moved to London where he met T.S. Eliot and began writing for The Criterion and other magazines. He also began publishing his poetry. In 1927, MacGreevy moved to Paris to teach English at the École Normale Supérieure. Here he met Samuel Beckett and resumed an earlier friendship with James Joyce.

In 1934, Poems was published in London and New York. This was to be the only volume of poetry he had published.  In 1929 MacGreevy began working on Formes, a journal of the fine arts. He also published a translation of Paul Valéry's Introduction à la méthode de Léonard de Vinci as Introduction to the Method of Leonardo da Vinci. In the mid 1930s, he moved back to London and earned his living lecturing at the National Gallery there. From 1938 to 1940 he was the chief art critic for The Studio. He published several books on art and artists, including Jack B. Yeats : An Appreciation and an Interpretation; Pictures in the Irish National Gallery (both 1945); and Nicolas Poussin (1960). He was Director of the National Gallery of Ireland from 1950 to 1963. He died in March 1967 and is remembered as a pivotal figure in the history of Irish literary modernism.