The Land Of Poets

Ireland Travel Blog

 › entry 5 of 9 › view all entries

So apparently at some point somebody decided that Ireland was the land of the poets. This was probably back in the olden days of the bardic traditions dating as far back as the 6th century making it some of the earliest non-latin poetry in Europe. and have since gone on to produce such great Nobel Laureats as William Butler Yeats, Sam Beckett, Mr James Joyce and one of my favourites Seamus Heaney.

The early Irish poetry was always written as Gaeilge but this subsquently changed for various obvious reasons in the years gone by. When poems began to be written in English, many suggested this was the beginning of the end of the Irish language and many wrote about this. One such poem follows as it laments for the loss of language, culture and bygone days.

Caoine Cill Chais

Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad,
tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár;
níl trácht ar Chill Chais ná a teaghlach,
is ní bainfear a cling go bráth;
an áit úd ina gcónaíodh an deighbhean
a fuair gradam is meidhir tar mhná,
bhíodh iarlaí ag tarraing tar toinn ann,
is an tAifreann binn á rá.

The Lament for Kilcash

What shall we do from now on without timber?
The last of the woods is gone.
No more of Kilcash and its household
And its bells will not ring again.
The place where that great lady lived
Who received esteem and love above all others
Earls came from overseas to visit there
And Mass was sweetly read.

It is amazing to me how we can learn a language for 14 years and yet still barely have a grasp of how to speak it!

In fact the very reason I began this blog is that I was ashamed with myself after meeting an old man walking along the street who simply said "Dia duit" to me. Although I correctly replied "Dia s'mhuire duit", he then engaged me in a full blown conversation to which I could only attempt half answers or else answer in English. We talked about how rare it was these days to hear any Gaeilge at all despite Hector's best efforts to reintroduce the "cupla focal" into every day use. While most people can and sometimes do throw in a few words from time to time, this man talked of how his brother was involved in the Easter Risings of 1916 and of times when it was illegal to talk in our native tongue.

Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam.
A country without a language, is a country without a soul.

This lack of language despite our 14 years of learning has been very cleverly written by the creative staff at Carlsberg recently did an ad which perfectly displays the decline of a language. The beauty of that Carlsberg ad is that they used some of the most basic Irish that we learnt back in Primary school.
Carlsberg don't do Irish poetry but if they did, you probably wouldnt notice the difference!!

An bhfuil cead agam dul amach go dti ar an leithreas,
Agus madra rua,
Is maith liom cáca milis,
Cáca milis,
Agus Sharon Ní Bheolain,
Tá geansaí orm,
Tá scamaill sa spéir,
Tabhair dom an cáca milis.

Can I go to the toilet please,
And a fox (although sionnach is the real name for a fox, red dog would be the literal translation),
I like cake,
And Sharon Ní Bheolain (a particularly hot news presenter that every male would be familiar with),
I have a jumper,
The clouds in the sky,
Give/bring me the cake.

Below is an old Irish blessing, I love this one. I would often use the first line as way of saying goodbye to someone, it essential means good luck until we meet again.

Go n-éirí an bóthar leat.
Go raibh an chóir ghaoithe i gcónaí leat.
Go dtaitní an ghrian go bog bláth ar do chlár éadain,
go gcuire an bháisteach go bog mín ar do ghoirt.
Agus go gcasfar le chéile sinn arís,
go gcoinní Dia i mbosa a láimhe thú.

Translates as:

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

skimonty83 says:
I like your comments. Although my family has been removed from Ireland for about 100 years I still feel a connection. I know us Americans are wierd that way. I wouldn't mind a few pronunciation tips with some of your lines.
Posted on: Jun 12, 2008
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!