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Writing in Irish by Colette Nic Aodha, award winning Irish poet from Galway.
As a writer in the Irish language I feel cherished and part of quite a small, caring family on one hand, and marginalised on the other hand. It is definitely easier to have your work published in Irish as there is only a small pool of artists, and new writing is always in demand. There are also more financial supports available than for those who write exclusively in English. However, writers in Irish do not have the same opportunities as their counterparts in English; their market is limited to the small number of native speakers or those learning the language. There is no international market. There is no international audience. It is lovely when people from outside of Ireland, or those who can’t speak Irish, approach you after a reading and tell you how much they liked the sound of the verse although they didn’t understand any of it.
I feel a rich history hidden in Gaelic words, one that reaches back to our ancestors and our unique heritage. The dilution of our pagan culture with the arrival of Christianity is a theme that is important to me. I have enormous respect for poetry in any language. To me, it is the medium through which beauty and harsh reality are most vividly expressed, the literary equivalent of ‘stopping and staring’. Different languages evoke different feelings and associations but poetry is word-music, it’s universal.
(Excerpt from THE LANDSCAPE OF LANGUAGE by Colette Nic Aodha, Poetry Ireland News, LINK)
Téim siar sa stair
ag lorg eolais faoi chéard a thit amach
i ré éigin eile
am a athchruthú arís i bhfothraigh;
seanphort a chasadh
seanrince a dhéanamh.
Inné thug mé cuairt ar theach m’athar,
ach fothrach déanta as a chraiceann
is é féin faoin bhfód a bhí ann romham
fothrach eile le ceardú as a chreatlach.
Searching the annals
For events which took place
In a different era,
Recreating time in old ruins
Playing ancient music
Dancing steps of our ancestors
Last night I visited my father’s place
But found a ruin of a house
crafted from skin
As another was shaped
below from his bone.
Baineadh siar asam nuair a dúirt Deirdre,
bean Naoise, go raibh mo chuid leabhar
amach ar iasacht aici ón leabharlann áitiúil
shíl mé go raibh dóthain trioblóide aici féin
ar deoraíocht lena clann gan a bheith buartha
faoi fhilíocht ar bith, gan trácht ar chéard
a bhí i ndán di. Rud a thuig sí go maith,
nach cuimhin léi an taibhreamh faoi shléacht
a dhéanfaí ar a chéile is a dheartháirecha
gan trácht ar a hainm féin a bheith luaite
i leabhar an bháis. Lean sí uirthi
ag caint ar shraith filíochta a bhí idir lámha aici,
nach raibh mórán eile le déanamh
is í ar deoraíocht in Albain. Mheas mé
go raibh críochnaitheacht an bháis
ag baint leis is dúirt sin léi.
D’fhill mé abhaile le paidir a scríobh.
Maireann scéalta ach iad a aithris.
On Loan. ( Ar Iasacht)
I was taken aback when Deirdre,
wife of Naoise told me that she had
my poetry collections out on loan
from the local library. I felt that she
had enough troubles of her own
in exile with her family without being bothered
with poetry. She was well aware of
what was about to befall her, did she not
dream of the slaying of her husband and family
not to mention seeing her own name
inscribed in the book of death.
She continued to talk
about a series of poems she was composing,
there wasn’t a lot else to do while on the run
in Scotland. I felt the inevitability of death
in what she said and told her this.
I returned home to pen a prayer.
Storytelling is an intricate business.
Trí thimpiste a tháinig mé
ar a sheanuaimh, an ghrian
ag lonradh trí scoilt
sa díon, cuma an-éagsúil
ar an áit, an aois mhór a bhí air
greanta ar a aghaidh
ach gan aon mhaolú
ar an bhfáiltiú
a bhí aige dá chomrádaithe,
ba é tús catha, deireadh áir,
a fhios aige go maith cá háit
ba cheart aon líne chatha a tharraingt,
ach anois a chlaíomh ar leataobh,
ní théann sé amach
faoi na cnoic i mbun seilge fiú.
I happened on his cave by accident,
Sun shining through a skylight,
A place apart,
His great age engraved on his face
there was no holding back
In the way he greeted old comrades,
Always first onto the battlefield,
and last to leave, knew where the line
was drawn, now he sits
with his sword at his feet,
he doesn’t leave, not even
to go among the hills to hunt.
Scríobhaim idir línte nach ann dóibh
ar imeall leathanach bán
i lár leabhair nár foilsíodh
is airím go bhfuilim i measc cairde
sa tír thaibhsiúil seo ina mhairim
ár laochra neamhbheo inár dtimpeall,
daoine eile ar m’aithne
sna sráidbhailte taobh liom,
ag seinm ceoil gan uirlisí
ag cumadh focal
i dteanga chasta a d’éag
i mílaois éigin eile.
Inár Measc: Amongst Us.
I write between lines that do not exist,
On the margin of blank pages,
In books, as yet unpublished,
And I feel as if amongst friends
In this phantom country in which I live,
forever in the shadow of the dead.
Others of my acquaintance
In the neighbouring villages
Play music but have no instruments,
In an ancient language
That lived and declined in another age.
Oíche ar Árainn
An samhradh caite
héis ocht n-oíche ar Árainn,
báisteach throm ag titim,
na madraí bána
lasmuigh den chúldoras
mar a bheadh brat sneachta
i lár mí Mheithimh.
Bhí neart sa ghaoth
a d’éirigh ar maidin,
caint ar dhrochbhaill
ar ochtar fear
bhí ag ragairne i rith na hoíche
as deisceart Chonamara.
Chuir siad olc orm féin aréir
is mé amuigh faoi na cnoic
ag long ionsparáide; ag déanamh
macnaimh ar chosúlachtaí:
an dúiche seo is dúiche Mhaigh Eo.
Overnight on Aran. ( Oíche ar Árann)
Summer is over
After eight nights on Aran,
A fall of heavy rain
Two white dogs
Outside the back door
Were a sudden snowfall
In the month of June.
Strength in the wind
that prevailed this morning,
talk of the ‘cut’of eight Conemara men
who caused commotion
the night before,
they heckled my night walk
as I strolled the roads
in search of inspiration
between this countryside
and my town land in Mayo.
Colette Nic Aodha is an award winning poet who resides in Galway in the West of Ireland. She writes in both Irish and English. She has fourteen publications which include a volume of short stories, Ádh Mór, as well as an academic study of the blind poet Anthony Raftery, an 18th century bard whose songs and poems are still recited and sung today. She has one volume of English poetry, Sundial, which was published by Arlen House Press, She also has two dual language collections of poetry by the same publisher; Between Curses: Bainne Géar , and In Castlewood: An Ghaoth Aduaidh. Her work is on the syllabus in Primary, Secondary and Third Level colleges.