Friday, August 19, 2011

Man of Beara -- a poem by Donal O'Siodhachain

Man Of Beara

(Do mo chara cleite uasal, Riobard)

Solid as the hills that surround him

and sometimes just as contrary too

But mostly bright as an Ahaillies sunset

Or Lauragh’s fields in morning dew

This wise man has a knowledge

But not from the Cloistered Hall

Where mind manacles were forged

To hold our people in their thrall

Seek in the winding mountain path

Leading to the hidden valley, stream

Where Poet and Hedge School Master

Held alive the burning Aisling dream

In such secluded, lonely places

A wolf’s price on their hoary head

While they lived Eire would rise and

The planter slept uneasy in his bed

Theirs were the eyes that see a spailpin-

Not just a laborer with his spade

But the generations back to the hand

Of the white sal when Chiefs were made

For him no lofty halls or roasted boar

Nor now no horses, cups or rings

Yet he knows in other times, his

Honor seat with prince and kings

Content to glean a nickname

Gone long years to Pert or Butte

Around it trace a vanished family

Even plot their emigration route

Cloak of learning lightly worn

Now that twilight years are there,

With such as O’Curry and O’Donovan

In their bright script, he too will share

(Do mo chara cleite uasal Riobard)...

Dedicated to my noble friend of the quill, Robert !

aisling : vision (of the future, usually in poetic form )

A wolf’s price on their hoary head ! Queen Elizabeth (1st) paid

the same bounty on the head of a poets as she did a wolf's head !

spailpin- : an unpropertied person selling their labor by the day or week.

White Sal ( sally... willow ) A white wand over a foot long and made from a bark peeled sally rod was among the symbols of kingship given to a Gaelic Chieftain at their coronation.

For him no lofty halls or roasted boar

Nor now no horses, cups or rings......

Roast Pork at the feast and horses, valuable jeweled drinking cups, rings etc among the gifts given to those involved in reciting the genealogy of kings, princes and other nobility.

O’Curry and O’Donovan : two great scholars, translators, compilers of genealogy etc from the Celtic Revival era in the 19th cent.

--- End contributed material ---

Editor's note: Riobard O'Dwyer really is a man deserving of the poet's recognition. A National Teacher for many years, he has also made it his life's work to preserve the genealogical history of the Beara peninsula. Through Riobard's efforts I came to know more about my own Beara ancestors than I ever would have known otherwise. Since I also have ancestors from other parts of Ireland, I know just how rare and wonderful a treasure we have in Riobard. He continues to build on the great legacy of O'Dwyer scholars, teachers, and historians who've contributed so much to the Beara communities over the centuries.

No comments:

Post a Comment