Issue 12 – Summer 2007 – Véarsa Saor: New Poetry in Irish with Translations, Edited by Michael S. Begnal

Véarsa Saor: New Poetry in Irish with Translations 

Michael S. Begnal, Editor



For a supposedly “dying” language (some people think), Irish certainly has a booming publishing industry. Any type of publication you can imagine, it’s probably available in Irish — all genres of prose (fiction and non-fiction), poetry (of course), newspapers  and Foinse, magazines such as Comhar and Feasta, and so forth. A quick glance through the biographical notes of the contributors to the present supplement shows some of the presses putting out the work of numerous contemporary Gaelic poets — Cló Iar-Chonnachta and Coiscéim spring immediately to mind, Arlen House publishes in both Irish and English, and there are others still. The Irish-language poetry scene is very strong.

Though it is certainly a minority language, in Ireland it is quite possible to carry on much or most of one’s life in Irish, as the poets here certainly do.  It is not uncommon to hear Irish spoken on the streets of Galway, for example. You can go see an Irish-language play at An Taibhdhearc, then walk down Dominick St. and stop for a pint in Club Árus na nGael (the Irish-language pub), maybe run into another Irish-speaker on the way home, then turn on TG4 and watch the news or some other show in Irish, or listen to the radio in Irish too. Indeed, something like this has often been my own personal experience.

For that matter you’re also likely to hear Irish spoken in Belfast if you know where to go, not to mention in the capital city of Dublin. In fact any city in Ireland will have its Irish-speaking community. The Gaeltachtaí are spread over several areas along the rural west coast and in Co. Meath. What I’m trying to say is that pretty much any sort of daily experience, mundane or miraculous — in other words the base material for poetry — is available through the medium of Irish right now in the contemporary world. I say this merely to point it out to those outside of Ireland (perhaps even inside it) who, through no fault of their own necessarily, may believe that Irish is like Latin, a calcified relic spoken only by a handful of specialists. It is not like that at all.

The present supplement for Free Verse makes no claim to be particularly representative. There are many, many other writers who could easily have been included, and it is only circumstances and issues of space that have dictated that more are not.  However, it must be said that all of the poets gathered here are very good — a few would even have to be considered giants in the field — and together they provide an interesting if arbitrary snapshot of some of the newest poetry being written in Irish today.

I translated maybe a third or more of this material myself. In my translations I tried to stick fairly close to the originals, while also creating something that works well in the target language. I wanted the reader to be able to compare both versions and, even if s/he didn’t have any Irish, be able to see some similarity on the page (screen) — and thus at least get a sense of the poem in its original version. Of course there is always going to be “something lost in translation.” One small example occurs in Rody Gorman’s poem “Tí Mhic Giolla” (“Mac Giolla’s”). The final line, “Casaim liom féin,” might variously mean “I meet myself,” “I sing to myself,” or “I reproach myself.” Gorman clearly implies all of these, but in English I could really only pick one.

Don léitheoir le Gaeilge, tá an méid a scríobh mé thuas ar eolas agat cheana féin. Ach is úr an fhilíocht atá sa bhforlíonadh seo de Véarsa Saor. Seans go bhfuil cúpla dán foilsithe i gcló in irisí roimhe seo, ach tá an chuid is mó díobh nuabheirthe – agus, go bhfios dom, níl aon cheann acu ar fáil ar-líne seachas anseo. Léigh ar aghaidh, mar sin, agus go mbaine tú sult as.

Michael S. Begnal, Meitheamh 2007




Louis de Paor

Louis de Paor was born in Cork in 1961, and has been involved with the contemporary renaissance of poetry in Irish since 1980 when he was first published in the poetry journal Innti (which he subsequently edited for a time). A four-time winner of the Seán Ó Ríordáin/Oireachtas Award, the premier award for a new collection of poems in Irish, he lived in Australia from 1987 to 1996. His first bilingual collection, Aimsir Bhreicneach/Freckled Weather, was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Award for Literary Translation. He was also granted a Writer’s Fellowship by the Australia Council in 1995. He is the recipient of the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award 2000, the first poet in Irish to achieve that distinction. His collection agus rud eile de,published by Coiscéim in December 2002, was awarded the Oireachtas prize for the best collection of poems in Irish in 2003. A bilingual collection, Ag greadadh bas sa reilig/Clapping in the cemetery,was published by Cló Iar-Chonnachta in 2005. The Gaelic Hit Factory,a collection of songs and poems in Irish composed and recorded with longtime collaborator John Spillane, was released in 2006. His latest collection is Cúpla Siamach an Ama (The Siamese Twins of Time), published by Coiscéim in 2006.



Iascaire is ea m’athair le ceart

Conas ná raibh a fhios againn cheana
agus diamhair na mara
chomh glé sin ina shúil?

Lá an adhlactha, iompraíonn sé
doircheacht mhoch na maidine
ar an trá sin a shíneann

ó dhoras an tséipéil
go dtí bruach an tsaoil.
Siúlann thar an slua

atá bailithe sa chlós,
a chois báite sa ghaineamh
gan cabhair a iarraidh

ó éinne dá chlann mhór mhac.
Ní thuigimid an fharraige fós,
dar leis, a cneastacht ná a racht.

Tá naomhóg an bhróin
bun os cionn ar a ghualainn
chomh dubh le fuil théachta,

an fharraige ag fiuchadh
le deora goirt
a loiscfeadh súil na gréine.

Scarann tonn na sochraide roimis
is cuireann sé a dheartháir
sa pholl atá tochailte

aige féin is an ngealaigh
ó aréir. Nuair a shiúlann
ón uaigh ar ais,

tá gile na dtonn
is uaigneas an domhain i ngleic
i súil ghlas mo shinsir.



My father is really a fisherman

How did we not know already,
when the deep mystery of the sea
shines so brightly in his eyes?

On the day of the burial, he carries
the early morning dark
on that beach that stretches

from the church door
to the edge of the world.
Walks past the crowd

that has gathered in the yard,
his feet sunk in sand,
asking no help

from any of his many sons.
We still don’t understand the sea,
he says, its kindness or its anger.

The naomhóg of sorrow
is upside down on his shoulders,
as black as clotted blood,

the ocean boiling
with salt tears 
that would burn the eye of the sun.

The funeral-wave parts
and he buries his brother
in the hole

he dug up with the moon
the night before. When he walks
back from the grave,

the brightness of the sea
and the loneliness of the world
grapple in my father’s green eyes.


(translated by Michael S. Begnal)



do chuireas 
ar an mbus 
ar maidin
a raibh fanta
den tsolas im shaol

má bhí deifir
ag imeacht uirthi,
agus bhí, is maith
mar a cheil sí

an líonrith
a las an cúinne
is sia istigh ina croí;

go mbraithfeadh sí
uaithi mé,
go mbeadh sí
ag cuimhneamh orm

ná dearmadfadh go brách
a bhfuair sí 
de ghrá

bhí a glór chomh mín
is mo chroí
chomh leathan
ar oscailt
nár bhraitheas chugam 
an namhaid
i measc an tslua

chuir Trócaire
lann chaol
go feirc im bhráid
is chas



Saol eile

díreach sara dtagann
an t-ardaitheoir
a thabharfaidh síos
chun an tsaoil arís mé,
braithim a theacht;

tá an mhaidin chomh trom
le hualach na feola
ar a chabhail ata
agus trucail lán
den sócúlacht bhán
a chuirtear idir colainn leonta
agus tocht na hoíche
á bhrú aige roimis go mall;

warm, adeirim,
is snámhann a dhá shúil
i dtreo íor na spéire
mar a mbraitheann sé
bonnán mo ghlóir
ag séideadh air sa cheo;

today, adeirim,
téad róghearr
á síneadh agam chuige
thar tonnta
is fochaisí an aeir, isn’t it?

               tá sé ag dul faoi
               dem bhuíochas
               is ní fhágfaidh mé
               an mhíntír
               le dul amach ina dhiaidh

díreach sara ndúnann
doirse an dá shaol eadrainn,
labhrann a ghlór báite
aníos ó ghrinneall na mara

a lifetime, ar sé


Another life

just before
the lift arrives
to take me down
to the world again,
I sense his coming;

the morning is heavy
as the burden of flesh
on his swollen body
as he pushes a container 
full of the comforting whiteness
that is laid out
between a wounded body
and the overwhelming night
slowly in front of him;

warm, I say,
and his eyes swim
toward the horizon
where he hears
the foghorn of my voice
blaring at him in the dark;

today, I say,
as I throw
a too-short rope
toward him over the waves
and submerged rocks of air, isn’t it?

he is going under
in spite of me
and I will not leave
dry land
to go out after him

just before
the doors close between us,
his drowned voice speaks up
from the sea-bed

a lifetime, he says


(translated by Michael S. Begnal and the author)



Dolores Stewart

Dolores Stewart is a bilingual poet, living in the West of Ireland.  Her first collection In Out of the Rain was published in 1999 by the Dedalus Press.  Two collections in Irish followed: ’Sé Sin le Rá in 2001 and An Cosán Deargin 2003, both published by Coiscéim.   Her most recent collection is Presence of Mind, published by Dedalus in 2005.  As part of a cultural exchange programme – Turas na bhFilí go h-Albain – she took part in a tour of Scotland’s Western Isles and Glasgow in November 2004 with other Irish and Scottish poets, and, in 2005, was granted a residency at the Heinrich Böll cottage on Achill Island, Co. Mayo.


Sanas na Marbh

Dá mbeadh fonn orm, tabharfadh mé 
athfhéachaint ar léinseach an locha, ag deireadh lae – 
ag dul i leith na deirge,
muirn an tsean-chatha 
i mo chluasa dúnta agus lámh chiotach na staire 
faoi mo bhráid: beaignití na nDeargánach ag muinéal 
mo chuimhne. 

Agus dá mbeadh fonn orm, 
bhainfadh mé solás as an bhfuarán sléibhe ag déanamh 
ar thobar an bhláir fholaimh, 
murach an básbholadh, 
murach an trup cos a chualas ar ghualann na tuaithe:
buídhean cuachta as an rí-theaghlach Stiúbhartach, 
arís ar na gcosaibh?

Agus dá gcuirfeadh mé ar fán – 
bheinn i láthair mar fhámaire ghaoithe, 
ag ábhacht le brait idir dhearg ’s bhreacán, 
ag déanamh gaisce sna Garbh Críocha,

ag déanamh éachta ar son an Phrionsa.

Ach an fonn orm, bheinn sásta gloine fíona Spáinneach 
a ardú do Phrionsa an Fhraoigh, nó feirc bán a chaith 
i mo chaipín, nó éamh 
ar Chríost féin.  Ach tá rian an áir 
ar an aer agus cnámha coscartha faoi thalamh: slua ghairm 
na marbh ag briseadh isteach ar mo neamhaistear,

ag lorg na déirce ó chluas bhodhar na cruinne.


Vexing the Dead

If only I were in the right mood, not 
so inclined to dabble in the blood-freckled depths 
of the lake, 
or open both my ears 
to known battle-cries bearing down on me 
from the left hand side of the annals,

I would dodge the bayonets of Redcoats
glancing off the throat of folk stories,
and turn my hand
to scribbling out the registers of a mountain stream 
trickling down to the battlefield –

if it wasn’t for the death-smell, or the clatter
of troop movements that comes to me over the ridge,
a detachment, maybe, 
from the royal house of Stewart, once again 
on the march?  In lighter mood,

I would dawdle like a day-tripper, in equal halves 
draw on red badges or plaid, jig-acting in the wake 
of the Highland Prince. 
And if I were in the mood, I would raise a glass 
to the Prince of the Heather, sport a white cockade

in my cap, and plead with Christ for the cause, 
but the salt lake is turning the colour of blood, 
and battle-slogans of the slain 
are coming through as the chant of a last-ditch Kyrie – 
breaking into my humour at every hand’s turn.


(translated by the author)




Bíodh a fhios agat,
agus ní scéal scéil é,
airítear an Bhean Nighe
le h-ais easa Gleann Chomhann
ar oíche lá an réabadh –

Aisléine á ní aici,
Arís is aríst eile,
Deifir agus deabhadh uirthi
In éadan an tsneachta síobtha.

Agus ní scéal scéil é –

Mac Domhnaill i ndeireadh na preibe,
ar mhuin a chapaill is corraithe,

ar a dhá ghlúin a úmhlaíonn sé,
in éadan a thola a ghéilleann sé
mar cheann-urraidh an fhine –

fóill ar láimh an namhad.

Agus ní cómhra cois tine 
ná amaidí cainte é –

faoiseamh clan Domhnaill is a dtriath,
a athartha gan a bheith scriosta
cé ciach an gheimhridh ag cumhdú
broideadh agus síoscadh, caochadh,

an géarú i ngáire na gceithearnach
cuirthe ar ceathrún in íochtar ghleanna,

tagtha le déanai sa ghleann.

Aisléine á ní aici,
Arís is aríst eile,
Deifir agus deabhadh uirthi
In éadan an tsneachta síobtha.



It’s no rumour 
nor word of a lie –

the Washerwoman was spotted
more than once 
at the foot of the waterfall
below in Glencoe,
the night before the massacre – 
all go –

with fingers gripping
the winding sheet,
wringing out a shroud
in infantries of snow.

And it’s no idle talk –
MacDomhnaill at his wit’s end
galloping through snowdrifts
to bend the knee, giving in
against his will,

to stay the enemy’s hand.

And it’s no tall tale
nor bedtime story –

a spit on the palm, ease enough 
for MacDomhnaill and the clan,
though the long, dark nights shiver
with hoodwink and cupped whisper,

thistles in the guffaw of foot-soldiers
come to winter in the glen,

lodging of late in the glen,

where the Washerwoman
was spotted
not for the first time,
rinsing out a shroud
in obsequies of snow.


(translated by the author)



Cathal Ó Searcaigh

Cathal Ó Searcaigh was born in 1956 and hails from Gort an Choirce, Co. Donegal. He is the author of nine collections of poetry in Irish, including Homecoming/An Bealach ’na Bhaile (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 1993), Na Buachaillí Bána (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 1995), Out in the Open (translations by Frank Sewell, Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 1997), Ag Tnúth leis an tSolas (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2001), and Na hAingle ó Xanadu (Arlen House, 2005). His latest dual-language edition, By the Hearth in Mín a’ Leá, was published in 2006 by Arc and was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. He is a previous winner of the Irish Times Literature Prize, the Seán Ó Riordáin Prize for Poetry, and the Duais Bhord na Gaeilge. A volume of critical essays on Ó Searcaigh’s work, On the Side of Light, was published by Arlen House in 2002.

An Fear Glas

 As na cúlchríocha tig tú chugainn ar dhroim na gaoithe;
 géagscaoilte, garbhánta, boladh an aiteannaí ar ghlasghála
 d’anála; úsc an chaoráin ar fhód glas do theanga;
 ealta éan ag ceiliúr i nduilliúr ciabhach do chúil.
 Tig tú ag spreagadh an tsíl, ag cur síneadh i rútaí,
 ag gríosadh lí na gréine i ngnúis liath an Aibreáin.

 Tá scamaill i bhfostú i do ghéaga agus éanacha beaga
 na spéire ag neadú i bhfraoch do chléibhe, i bhfál do ghabhail.
 Sciúrann tú an mhaidin le garbhshíon na gcuach,
 sa chruth go gcuirtear luisne úr i luibh is i lus, i dtom is i sceach.
 Nuair a bhaineann tú searradh as do chnámha Earraigh,
 cluintear méileach sna cuibhrinn agus cuacha sna crainn.

 I mínte an tsléibhe, teann solas do shúl i bhfód ionainn.
 Tig bachlóga ar ár ndóchas.



The Green Man

You ride in from the outback on the back of the wind,
loose-limbed, hob-nailing a storm. I smell whin, fresh
on the gale of your breath. The ooze of the bog drips the green 
sod of your tongue and flocks of birds sing like leaves in
your hair’s cowl. You come inciting seed, the roots’ fingering
and bidding sun’s lustre to the grey face of April.

The clouds are tangling in your limbs and birds nest
in your chest’s heather, settle in the hedgerow of your loins.
Yet you come scouring, pelting the cuckoo out with rain
that drives a sheen on weed and bush and blackthorn.
And when you stretch the spring of your bones
there is a bleat in the field and a crake in the meadow.

Here, in this mountain pasture, the green light of your eye
dives into our clay and hope is full in bud and feather.


(translated by Nigel McLoughlin)



Scrúdú Coinsiasa roimh Dul chun Suain

Faic na fríde de bhraodar
níor chuir d’anbhás, a thraonaigh,
ar thiománaí an innill bhainte.
Bhí aoibh go dtí na cluasa air
is an roth ag gabhail tharat.
‘Argentina attacking,’ ar seisean,
ag strácáil do choirp lena chosa
is i snapchasadh amháin
bhuail sé urchar de chic ort
isteach i mbearna sa chlaí.

Níor dhúirt mé ‘sea’ nó ‘ní hea’.
‘Is beag an díobháil a ghní béal druidte’,
a hoileadh domh le blianta.
A Dhia! Is mé is súaraí amuigh. Féach
cáil mo mhacántacha
á caitheamh agam os comhair chách
dálta thodóg Havana
agus toisc faichill mo thóna féin
a bheith orm, tá riar a cháis
a choinneáil agam le gach caime.

Ó, a thraonaigh,
tá an tost ag cur do thuairisc anocht
is i measc na ndoilíos
ar mhéanar domhsa a dhearmad
anois gan sonrú

cuimhním ort.



Examination of Conscience before Going to Bed

When he minced you, Corncrake,
it made no impression
on the mower, who sat grinning
to his ears as the wheel 
went over. “Argentina attacking!”
he said as he footed you out.
A sudden turn and a flying boot
sent you into the yawning ditch.

I kept my mouth firmly shut
remembering an old saying:
“A still tongue never broke a nose.”
In public I suck on my honesty
like a fat Havana. I cover
my own arse while naked
devilment grows all around me.

Ah Corncrake, the silence
questions me tonight
and among all the blurred
griefs I’m trying to forget,

I remember you.


(translated by Nigel McLoughlin) 



Samhain 1994

Anocht agus mé ag meabhrú go mór fá mo chroí
Gan de sholas ag lasadh an tí ach fannsholas gríosaí
Smaointím airsean a dtug mé gean dó fadó agus gnaoi.

A Dhia, dá mba fharraige an dorchadas a bhí eadrainn
Dhéanfainn long den leabaidh seo anois agus threabhfainn
Tonnta tréana na cumhaí anonn go cé a chléibhe…

Tá sé ar shiúl is cha philleann sé chugam go brách
Ach mar a bhuanaíonn an t-éan san ubh, an crann sa dearcán;
Go lá a bhrátha, mairfidh i m’anamsa, gin dá ghrá.



November 1994

Tonight as I search the depths of my heart,
in the dark of the house and the last ember-light,
I’m thinking of one I loved long ago.

And if the darkness between us became like the sea,
I’d make a boat of this bed, plunge its bow
through the waves that barge the heart’s quay.

Although he is gone and won’t ever be back,
I’ll guard in my soul the last spark of his love,
like the bird in the egg and the tree in the nut.


(translated by Nigel McLoughlin)


Nigel McLoughlin was born in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, in 1968. His collections are At the Waters’ Clearing (Flambard Press/Black Mountain Press, 2001), Songs for No Voices (Lagan Press, 2004), Blood (Bluechrome, 2005), and Dissonances (Bluechrome, 2007). He co-edited the anthology Breaking the Skin: 21st Century Irish Writing (Black Mountain Press, 2002), and is presently Course Leader for the MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Gloucestershire.




Nuala Ní Chonchúir

Nuala Ní Chonchúir lives in Loughrea, Co. Galway, and writes in Irish and English.  Her most recent poetry collection is the bilingual Tattoo:Tatú (Arlen House, 2007).
She has also published two collections of short fiction, The Wind across the Grass (2004), and To the World of Men, Welcome (2006), both from Arlen House.



Is pailmseist mo chorp
faoi do lámha,
paipír ársa
scrollaithe fút,
ag tnúth le do rian.
Glanaim mo chraiceann,
sciúraim siar é
go pár báiteach
ionas go bpúchfaidh
do lámh mar
dhúch tatuála,
ag líníocht thar
línte dofheicthe
gach fir eile.

Níl faic ach tusa
scrábáilte ar mo chorp.




My body is a palimpsest
under your hands,
a papyrus scroll
unfurled beneath you,
waiting for your mark.
I clean my skin,
scrape it back to
a pale parchment,
so that your touch
can sink as deep
as the tattooist’s ink,
and leave its tracery
over the erased lines
of other men.

You are all that’s
written on my body.


(translated by the author)



Haiku Coirp

Fillte idir mo
leasracha, oisre, ag crith
’s ag frithbhualadh

Ina luí idir
do chosa, magairlín, ag
leathnú, díbholgadh


Body Haiku

Folded between my
thighs, an oyster, with edges
that quiver, frill, pulse

Lying between your
legs, an orchid, that blossoms,
blooms on the stalk, wilts


(translated by the author)


Fear Nocht ina Luí

Má dúirt an dealbhóir leat,
‘Luigh siar, droim faoi,
le gach cnapán agus
logán cothrom’,
dromchla mín déanta díot,
an mbeadh tú


Standing Male Nude

If the sculptor
had you recline,
supine like a woman,
all your hummocks and
hollows smoothed out,
made horizontal,
would you be unmanned?


(translated by the author)




Niamh Ní Lochlainn

Niamh Ní Lochlainn was born in Dublin in 1964 and grew up with Irish as her first language, also being educated through the medium of Irish and spending her summers in the West Kerry Gaeltacht. Since 2001, she has lived and worked in the Connemara Gaeltacht. Her first collection of poetry, Guth ón dTobar, was published by Coiscéim in 2005, and she has appeared in journals, newspapers, and anthologies such as Feasta, and Go Nuige Seo.


Tar Éis an Rabharta     

     (Muighinis 2004)

Tonnta reatha ag rince chun cladaigh,
faoileáin go biorrach ar foluain,
ceann róin á bhá
is ag gobadh aníos chun anála,
salachar feamainne ar charraig,
broc le chur de ag an bhfarraige.

Seasaim ar tráigh
mar a sheas mná ar oileáinín mara,
iad ag caitheamh gainimhe le sáile
ag impí ar Dhia
an stoirm a cheansú
is na hiascairí a thabhairt abhaile.

Achainaímse, go dtiocfaidh lagtrá
maidin ghréine
is go nochtar athuair
tobairín mara,
suaiteacht cealaithe,
ionlach ar dhuirling chun feamainne.


After the Surge

    (Muighinis 2004)

A run of waves dancing to the shore,
sharp-eyed seagulls hover,
a seal’s head being drowned
then re-emerging for breath,
seaweed littered on a rock,
a badger-like loaded sea.

I stand on a strand
as the women stood on an island
casting sand at the brine,
imploring God
to ease the storm
and bring the fishermen home.

I beseech that the ebb-tide may come
on a sun-bright morning,
and that once more
a sea-well is revealed,
turbulence cancelled,
a spreading ground on the shore for seaweed.


(translated by the author and Michael S. Begnal)


Ollphiast Shell      

     (do mhuintir Rois Dúmnaigh, Iúil 2005)

Tholl sí grinneal mara
is bhain sí mant as talamh,
chaoin na sléibhte,
deora a chuir sruth leis na mairbh.

Tá aghaidh a thabhairt aici ar na portaigh,
pluid ciúnais
cranndacht shuain gan muscailt,
Ros Dúmnach ar chiumhais na dtonn.

Nimh ag spuaiceadh aisti, samhlaím,
ag doirteadh ar thalamh, ar uiscí, ar chrann,
claochlú fiachmhar,
scanradh Dé,
deireadh an domhain!

Ach nuair a bhíonn an bhagairt thart,
scréach na tíre ciúnaithe
is fuil an chréachta fuartha,
go bhfillimid ar lapadaíl na dtonn,
iomairí cuartha is gile ór na gainimhe,
solas domhanda!



The Shell Serpent      

     (for the people of Rossport, July 2005)

He burrowed through the sea-bed
and bit the land,
the mountains wept,
tears in a stream that carried the bones of the dead.

He’s facing the bogs now,
a silent blanket,
sleeping treeness without a stir,
Rossport on the edge of the waves.

I see him spewing out poison,
pouring over land, water, tree,
an almighy metamorphosis,
frighting even God,
the end of the world.

And when the threat has past,
the country’s scream silenced,
the blood in the wound cold,
that we may return to the lapping waves,
cyclical ridges and golden sand,
a light to the world.


(translated by the author)




Rody Gorman

Rody Gorman was born in Dublin in 1960, and now lives in the Isle of Skye, Scotland. He has published poetry collections in English, Irish and Scottish Gaelic: Fax and Other Poems (Polygon, Edinburgh, 1996), Cùis-Ghaoil(diehard, Edinburgh, 1999), Bealach Garbh (Coiscéim, Dublin, 1999), Air a’ Charbad fo Thalamh/On the Underground (Polygon, 2000), Naomhóga na Laoi (Coiscéim, 2003), Tóithín ag Tláithínteacht (Lapwing, 2004), An Dhuilleog agus an Crotal (Coiscéim, 2004), Flora from Lusitania (Lapwing, 2005), Zonda? Khamsin? Sharaav? Camanchaca? (Leabhraichean Beaga, Inverness, 2006), and Eadar Fiaradh is Balbh na h-Oidhche (diehard, Callander, 2007). His selected poems in Irish and Scottish Gaelic, Chernilo, were published by Coiscéim in 2006. He has worked as writing fellow at the Gaelic colleges Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye and An Lanntair in Lewis, and at University College Cork, and is editor and co-publisher of the annual Irish and Scottish Gaelic poetry anthology An Guth. Among his Gaelic translations are works by Cavafy, Yeats, Prévert, Neruda, and Snyder. His English translations include poems by Donald MacAulay, Sorley MacLean and Iain Crichton Smith.


Céilí san Oíche

Is cuimhin liom Ó Tuairisc:
An uair dheireanach a chas
An bheirt againn le chéile,
Bhí muid ag siúl abhaile
Tar éis céilí san oíche.

Stad muid ag na soilse mar a gcasann
Bealach an Chlocháin agus Bóthar Thír an Iúir,
Mé féin ag dul siar an bóthar
Agus é féin ag leanúint ar a shlí féin
Bealach Thí an Chnoic.

Dúirt muid: Caithfidh muid bualadh suas
Lá de na laethanta le haghaidh béile!



Nighttime Céilí

I remember Ó Tuairisc:
the last time we met
we were walking home
after a nighttime céilí.

We stopped at the lights where
Churchtown Road meets Terenure Road,
me going back on the road
and him continuing his own way,
in the direction of Ticknock.

We said: We’ll have to meet up
one of these days for a bite to eat!


(translated by Michael S. Begnal)



Mo Mharana

D’fhág mé an suíochán
Ina gcaitheadh is a gcognaíodh sé féin
Gan bhogadh tamall fada,
Mar a bhfuair sé bás
Thall i gcois an tinteáin.

Shuigh mé go ndearna mé mo mharana
Sa deireadh. Cheap mé dán
Agus fuair mé réidh leis.




I avoided the chair
in which he’d spent and chewed away,
and didn’t move for a long time,
he’d died
over there by the fireplace.

In the end, I sat
in contemplation. I composed a poem
and had done with it.


(translated by Michael S. Begnal)



Tí Mhic Giolla

Aimsir na Nollag ar ais
I measc na n-eachtrannach
Agus na gcolúr
Le stad na mbus
Go Tír an Iúir is an Clochán
Le hais Tí Mhic Giolla
Mar ar ghabh m’athair
Agus m’athair mór, ag caitheamh,
Gan siolla,
Casaim liom féin.




Christmastime back
among the foreigners
and the pigeons,
the buses
to Terenure and Churchtown,
next to MacGiolla’s pub
where my father would go,
and my grandfather, smoking,
without a word,
I meet myself.



Colette Nic Aodha

Colette Nic Aodha was born in 1967. She has published three collections in Irish, Baill Seirce (1998), Faoi Chrann Cnó Capaill (2000), and Gallúnach-ar-rópa (2003), all from Coiscéim. An English-language collection, Sundial, was published in 2005 by Arlen House. Her most recent is the dual-language volume Between Curses/Bainne Géar (Arlen House, 2006). She has also appeared in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Women’s Writing (2002) and the Go Nuige Seo anthologies (Coiscéim, 2004, 2005). Originally from Co. Mayo, she has long lived in Galway City.



tú imithe le seachtain
d’gháire fós mo thionlacan
ba mhian liom éalú

ó d’íomhá atá do mo leanúint
uair a eiríonn an ghrian
go luíonn sí arís

is níos deanaí fós
is mé ag glanadh suas
tar éis lá oibre

tú mar a bheadh néal carnach
ós mo chionn
tuigim go mbeidh sé amhlaidh

go dtiocfaidh tréigean do chomactais.




gone a week,
your laugh is still my escort,
though I’d rather escape

your image, following me
from the moment the sun rises
till it lies down again

and later still
as I pick up
after a day’s work

you are like a grey cloud
collecting above me –
I know it will be thus –

until you betray our liaison.


(translated by Michael S. Begnal and the author)




Rudaí a Thaitníonn Liom

duilleoga an fhómhair
mo mhéar ar dhromlach leabhar
ag teacht ar iarsmlann

preabaireacht cheol
le bualadh do chroí
snagcheoil is mé

ag brionglóidí
dreacht tíre lán le cheol na n-éan
ag suí i bhfoscadh do ghrian,
bialann lasmuigh

ar shráideanna dhuirlinge Mhadrid
caillte i stair na Spáinne
ag foghlaim focail nua,
má ta aon cheo mar sin agam,

ní bhíonn bia de dhíth



Things I Like

autumn leaves
old buildings
running my fingers along spines
of books

discovering museums
ebb of music
to the beat of your heart
jazz when dreaming

landscape with birdsong
sitting in your sheltering sun
some outdoor café
on the cobbled streets of Madrid

lost in the history of Spain,
learning new words,
if I have any of these
I forget to eat

(translated by the author)



Ós rud gur chualas uait
glaonn gach inneal sa teach
preabann dúch ó mo pheann
siúlann ríomhaire leis féin.

Scuabtar an urlár
nítear éadaí na ngasúir
fásann rósanna sa gháirdín
cé go bhfuil an gheimhreadh ann

is níl táisc ar an ngrian.
Chonaiceas iasc sa doirteal
snámhann éin bána ós mo chionn
iora rua ag dreapadh sna crainn

fainnleoga ag filleadh ar ais
is níl aon neart acu air
balúin ildaite ag sileadh ón similéir
an domhain plúchta le déithe.

Cuireann tú cúiteamh ar ais sa ghrá.




Since I happened to hear from you
every machine in the house shouts,
the ink in my pen pulses,
the computer runs by itself.

The floor is swept,
children’s clothes cleaned,
roses grow in the garden
even though it’s winter out

and there’s no sign of the sun.
I saw a fish swimming in the kitchen sink,
white birds swim overheard,
a red squirrel climbing in the trees,

swallows returning –
they can’t help it –
colored balloons shooting out of chimneys,
the earth thronged with gods.

Love requited.


(translated by Michael S. Begnal)




Gabriel Rosenstock

Conair an Cheoil

Ghabh an ceol conairí na colainne, ar dtús go mall
is ansan ina shruthán le fána –
aiteann faoi bhláth gach taobh de – 
gur rith arís go réidh tríd an má
áit a raibh na bláthanna léana
ag súil lena thadhall.
Cén fhaid eile go mbainfí siansa na bóchna amach
is duibheagán an tosta?

Conair an cheoil ní heol d’éinne a tús ná a deireadh.
An riasc éigin is foinse di?
Barr sléibhe?

Ghabhamarna conair an cheoil, tráth, más cuimhin leat.
B’é Píotágarás ár máistir,
ceol na sféar ár stiúradh
amach asainn féin
isteach ionainn féin
An cuimhin leat an nath aige?
                 ‘Os cionn an scamaill
                 Gona scáil
                  Tá an réalt
                  Gona loinnir.
                  Thar aon ní eile
                  Tabhair ómós duit féin.’


Nuair a stop an ceol
thost an chruinne.



Music’s Path

Music took the body’s paths, slow at first,
and then as a sloping stream
(flowering gorse on each side)
which ran readily through the plain
where the water-meadow blossoms
had been hoping to feel its presence.
How much longer till it merged with the melody of the sea,
the depths of silence?

Music’s path, no one knows its beginning or end.
Some marsh its source?
Or mountaintop?
A lake?

We took music’s path once, you may remember.
Pythagoras was our master,
the music of the spheres our guide
out of ourselves
into ourselves
Remember his aphorism?

‘Above the cloud
with its shadow
is the star
with its light.
Above all things
reverence thyself.’


When the music stopped
the universe became silent.


(translated by Michael S. Begnal)




Gabriel Rosenstock

Gabriel Rosenstock was born in Kilfinane, Co. Limerick in 1949, and studied at University College Cork, where he became associated with the Innti group of poets. He has written or translated more than 100 books, principally in Irish. Rogha Rosenstock, a selection from ten different volumes of his poetry, appeared in 1994 from Cló Iar-Chonnachta. More recent titles include Géaga Trí Thine: rogha haiku (Comhar, 2006), Dialann Anama (Coiscéim, 2007), and the Krishnamurphy trilogy (Coiscéim): Eachtraí Krishnamurphy (2003), Krishnamurphy Ambaist! (2004), and Tuairiscíonn Krishnamurphy ó Bhagdad (2007). Among Rosenstock’s other books are the travelogue Ólann mo Mhiúil as an nGainséis (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2003), the bilingual selection Rogha Dánta/Selected Poems (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2005) and his latest collection Bliain an Bhandé/Year of the Goddess (Dedalus, 2007). He is assistant editor with An Gúm, an Irish-language publisher, and lives in Dublin.


Ar Bhás Mhunir Niazi

Níl éinne anois a ghlaofaidh ar ais ar na gaotha ar fán
Níl éinne a déarfaidh cad tá ag an tráthnóna á rá:
Tionlacan garg le bailc í scairt an mhuezzin

Cé a chanfaidh feasta dúinn tost glórach na bhfothrach, titim ghasta na n-úll
Cé a sheasfaidh leis féin i mbaile bocht tréigthe is é ag feitheamh go ciúin
Le héirí na gealaí? Véarsa ag dul fé ar fhíor na spéire is ea do chroíse

Síolta sceite na pomagránaite, líonmhar dearg, é do bhás
Stoirm chantalach, treascairt, clagarnach, callán,
Folt á stróiceadh, béilteach thine ag dul as; fáiscim searbhshíolta fé m’fhiacla



On the Death of Munir Niazi

We  have nobody now to call back the wandering winds
No one to tell us what evening is saying
The muezzin’s cry, bitter accompaniment to a freezing shower

Who now will sing for us the tumultous silences of ruins, rapid fall of apples
Who will stand alone in a poor deserted village quietly waiting
For the moon to rise? Your heart is a stanza sinking on the horizon

Oozing seeds of a pomegranate, numerous, blood-red, your death
A cantankerous storm, a downfall, clatter of rain, confusion,
Hair being torn, a raging fíre going out; teeth crunching bitter seeds


(translated by the author)



Michael S. Begnal was formerly the editor of the Galway, Ireland-based literary magazine, The Burning Bush (1999-2004). His latest poetry collection is Ancestor Worship, published by Salmon Poetry in 2007. His first collection, The Lakes of Coma, was brought out in 2003 from Six Gallery Press, followed in 2005 by the long poem, Mercury, the Dime. He appears in the anthologies Breaking the Skin: New Irish Poetry (Black Mountain Press, 2002) and, in Irish, Go Nuige Seo (Coiscéim, 2004, 2005). He is also included in the recent essay collection, Avant-Post: The Avant-Garde under “Post-” Conditions (Litteraria Pragensia, 2006), and is editor of Honeysuckle, Honeyjuice: A Tribute to James Liddy (Arlen House, 2006).