Caoineadh Airt Uí­ Laoghaire by

Mo chara thu go daingean!
is níor chreideas riamh dod mharbh
gur tháinig chúgham do chapall
is a srianta léi go talamh,
is fuil do chroí ar a leacain
siar go t’iallait ghreanta
mar a mbítheá id shuí ‘s id sheasarnh.
Thugas léim go tairsigh,
an dara léim go geata,
an triú léim ar do chapall.

Do bhuaileas go luath mo bhasa
is do bhaineas as na reathaibh
chomh maith is bhí séagam,
go bhfuaras romham tu marbh
Cois toirín ísil aitinn,
gan Pápa gan easpag,
gan cléireach gan sagart
do léifeadh ort an tsailm,
ach seanbhean chríonna chaite
do leath ort binn dá fallaing —
do chuid fola leat ‘na sraithibh;
is níor fhanas le hí ghlanadh
ach í ól suas lem basaibh.

Mo ghrá thu go daingean!
is érigh suas id sheasamh
is tar liom féin abhaile,
go gcuirfeam mairt á leagadh,
go nglaofam ar chóisir fhairsing,
go mbeidh againn ceol á spreagadh,
go gcóireod duitse leaba
faoi bhairlíní geala,
faoi chuilteanna breátha breaca,
a bhainfidh asat alias
in ionad an fhuachta a ghlacais.


Those are the 6th to 8th verses of Caoineadh (lament) for Airt Uí­ Laoghaire, written by his wife after he was shot. He had been an officer in the Austrian army, but after returning home to Ireland he refused to sell his mare to a man named Morris for five pounds. At the time, under the penal laws if was illegal for a catholic to own a horse of more value than £5.
This is the translation:

My Love and my mate
That I never thought dead
Till your horse came to me
With bridle trailing,
All blood from forehead
To polished saddle
Where you should be,
Either sitting or standing;

I gave one leap to the threshold,
A second to the gate,
A third upon its back.
I clapped my hands,
And off at a gallop;
I never lingered
Till I found you lying
By a little furze-bush
Without pope or bishop
Or priest or cleric
One prayer to whisper
But an old, old woman,
And her cloak about you,
And your blood in torrents ~
Art O’Leary ~
I did not wipe it off,
I drank it from my palms.

My love and my delight
Stand up now beside me,
And let me lead you home
Until I make a feast,
And I will roast the meat
And send for company
And call the harpers in,
And I shall make your bed
Of soft and snowy sheets
And blankets dark and rough
To warm the beloved limbs
An autumn blast has chilled.

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1 Response

  1. Donncha says:

    Aww you're almost making me cry! ;(

    This poem has a special place in my heart because the story happened in my locality – I know where he was shot, where he lived, where "teach an mhargaigh" is.

    Although I'm sure you understand the gravity of these lines, I just thought that I'd add in a little bit.

    In the final section you've included it features the things that Eibhlín says she would do if he would come home. Well this is all the more poignant because of what she told us he did for her in the opening verse.

    Thanks for reading.