HUGGING THE BORDER

Cathal Ó Searcaigh
Osearc[1]
Order Homecoming/An Bealach chun a' Bhaile, a book of poems in Irish with English translations, by Cathal Ó Searcaigh from Cló Iar-Chonnachta.

Read two poems by Cathal Ó Searcaigh below, both in the original Irish and in English translation.

Cathal Ó Searcaigh was born in Donegal. He spent time in England and in Dublin before returning to his native place. His collections of poetry include Homecoming/An Bealach 'na Bhaile (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 1993); Na Buachaillí Bána (Lagan Press, 1995); and Ag Tnúth leis an tSolas (Cló Iar-Chonnachta,2001), for which he received 2001 The Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for the Irish language. He was awarded the Seán Ó Riordáin Prize for Poetry in 1993 and the Duais Bhord na Gaeilge (The Prize of the Irish Language Board) in 1995.





Mountain Woman
translated by Lilis Ó Laoire (original text below).
She inclined to flesh but also to fun
And though she was fond of swearing
and gap-toothed
She was never gruff or gloomy with us
When we visited her on Sundays
And she made us a drop of tea
While she hotly 'dashed' this and 'dratted' that.

Often she complained of
the 'oul' bugger of a gauger'
Who had cut her back in the pension
and who had left her with little
because she had a cow about to calve in the byre
a few heifers grazing and a handful of sheep
and when she referred to the event
she'd say angrily
'In this country the hardest crusts
are given to those with fewest teeth'.

And we always helped her on Sundays
to muck out the week's dung from the byre
And when we neglected our work
playacting and farting behind her back
she'd say
'Ah! lads! would you put a shape on yourselves,
a fart won't fertilise the farm in spring.'

'Have you any jizz at all in you boys', she'd say,
when we were embarassed to disagree with her.
'Arrah, you are as stupid as young sping lambs.
But that's what the priests and the TDs want
and when you grow up, boys,
they'll have no trouble driving you like sheep.

She kept herself there like a tree
growing and withering according to the season.
'It's not ageing I am, but ripening,'
and her words fell like seeds
into the welcoming earth of my mind.
And when she'd wrap me in her limbs so tightly,
I felt the fat - the growth rings of her body.

'Patience is the highest tree in heaven,'
She'd say while she patiently endured
the approach of death
which robbed and stripped her limbs
without cease.
Now and again I have a Mass said
for her in memory
of the fruits she bestowed on me
from the Tree of Knowledge
and because, as she's say herself,
if she were alive,

'A murmur in court
beats a roar on the moor, my dear'.






Bean an tSléibhe
by Cathal Ó Searcaigh (translation above).
Bhí féith na feola inti ach fosta féith an ghrinn
agus in ainneoin go raibh sí
mantach agus mórmhionnach
ní raibh sí riamh gruama nó grusach linn
nuair a bhíodh sinn thuas aici ar an Domhnach,
is dhéanadh sí splais tae dúinn
os cionn na gríosaí,
is í ag cur spleoid air seo,
is spréadh air siúd go teasaí.

Is ba mhinic í ag gearán
fán tseanbhugger de ghauger
a ghearr siar í sa phinsean
is a d'fhág í ar an bheagán
cionn is go raibh bó i mbéal beirthe aici s
a bhóitheach, cúpla bearach ar féarach
agus dornán caorach.
Agus í ag trácht ar an eachtra
deireadh sí go feargach:
'Sa tír seo tugtar na crusts is cruaidhe
don té atá mantach.'

Is chuidíodh muid léi i dtólamh ar an Domhnach
aoileach na seachtaine a chartadh
as an bhóitheach,
is nuair a bhíodh muid
ag déanamh faillí inár ngnaithe,
ag bobaireacht ar chúl a cinn is ag broimnigh,
deireadh sí,
'Á, cuirigí séip oraibh féin, a chailleacha,
ní leasóidh broim an talamh san earrach'.

''Bhfuil jizz ar bith ionaibh, a bhuachaillí?'
a deireadh sí
nuair a bhíodh leisc orainn easaontú lena tuairimí.
'Óró, tá sibh chomh bómánta
le huain óga an earraigh,
ach sin an rud atá na sagairt is na TDs a iarraidh,
is nuair a thiocfas sibhse i méadaíocht,
a bhuachaillí,
ní bheidh moill ar bith orthu
sibh a thiomáint mar chaoirigh'.

Chothaigh sí í féin ansiúd mar a dhéanfadh crann
ag feo is ag fás de réir an tséasúir a bhí ann.
'Ní ag aoisiú atá mé,' a deireadh sí, 'ach ag apú,'
is mar shíolta thitfeadh a briathra
in úir mhéith m'aigne
is nuair a shnaidhmeadh sí a géaga
thart orm go teann
mhothaínn an gheir - fáinní fáis a colainne.

'Níl crann sna flaithis níos airde
ná crann na foighde,'
a deireadh sí
agus í ag foighneamh go fulangach
leis an bhás
a bhí ag lomadh agus ag creachadh
a géaga gan spás.
Anois cuirim aifreann lena hanam
ó am go ham i gcuimhne
ar an toradh a bhronn sí orm
ó chrann na haithne
agus mar a déarfadh sí féin
dá mbeadh sí ina beathaidh,

'Is fearr cogar sa chúirt
ná scread ar an tsliabh, a thaiscidh'.






An Tobar
by Cathal Ó Searcaigh (translation below). The author dedicates this poem to Máire Mhac a' tSaoi.
'Cuirfidh sé brí ionat agus beatha,'
arsa sean-Bhríd, faghairt ina súile
ag tabhairt babhla fíoruisce chugam
as an tobar is glaine i nGleann an Átha.
Tobar a coinníodh go slachtmhar
ó ghlúin go glúin, oidhreacht
luachmhar an teaghlaigh
cuachta istigh i gclúid foscaidh,
claí cosanta ina thimpeall
leac chumhdaigh ar a bhéal.

Agus mé ag teacht i méadaíocht
anseo i dtús na seascaidí
ní raibh teach sa chomharsanacht
gan a mhacasamhail de thobar,
óir cúis mhaíte ag achan duine
an t-am adaí a fholláine is a fhionnuaire
a choinníodh sé tobar a mhuintire:
ní ligfí sceo air ná smál
is dá mbeadh rian na ruamheirge
le feiceáil ann, le buicéad stáin
dhéanfaí é a thaoscadh ar an bhall
is gach ráithe lena choinneáil folláin
chumhraítí é le haol áithe.

Uisce beo bíogúil, fíoruisce glé
a d'fhoinsigh i dtobar ár dteaghlaigh.
I gcannaí agus i gcrúiscíní
thóg siad é lá i ndiaidh lae
agus nuair a bhíodh íota tarta orthu
i mbrothall an tsamhraidh
thugadh fliuchadh agus fuarú daofa
i bpáirceanna agus i bportaigh.
Deoch íce a bhí ann fosta
a chuir ag preabadaigh iad le haoibhneas
agus mar uisce ionnalta
d'fhreastail ar a gcás ó bhreith go bás.

Ach le fada tá uisce reatha
ag fiaradh chugainn isteach
ó chnoic i bhfad uainn
is i ngach cisteanach
ar dhá thaobh an ghleanna
scairdeann uisce as sconna
uisce lom gan loinnir
a bhfuil blas searbh súlaigh air
is i measc mo dhaoine
tá tobar an fhíoruisce ag dul i ndíchuimhne.

'Is doiligh tobar a aimsiú faoi láthair,'
arsa Bríd, ag líonadh an bhabhla athuair.
'Tá siad folaithe i bhfeagacha agus i bhféar,
tachtaithe ag caileannógach agus cuiscreach,
ach in ainneoin na neamhairde go léir
níor chaill siad a dhath den tseanmhianach.
Aimsigh do thobar féin, a chroí,
óir tá am an anáis romhainn amach:
Caithfear pilleadh arís ar na foinsí.'






The Well
translated by Gabriel Fitzmaurice (original text above).
''Twill put a stir in you, and life,'
says old Bridget, spark in her eyes
profferring a bowl of spring-water
from the purest well in Gleann an Átha,
a well that was tended tastily
from generation to generation, the precious
heritage of the household
snugly sheltered in a nook,
a ditch around it for protection,
a flagstone on its mouth.

When I was growing up
here in the early sixties
there wasn't a house in the neighbourhood
without its like,
for everyone was proud then
of how wholesome and pure
they kept the family well:
they wouldn't let it become murky or slimy
and at the first traces of red-rust
it was bailed-out with a tin bucket
then purified every season with kiln-lime.

Lively, living water, pellucid spring-water
gushed forth from our family well.
In tin-cans and pitchers
they drew it daily
and in the devouring thirst
of sweltering summer
it slaked and cooled them
in field and bog.
It was a tonic, too,
that made them throb with delight
and for their ablutions
it served from cradle to grave.

But, this long time,
piped water from distant hills
sneaks into every kitchen
on both sides of the glen;
water spurts from a tap,
mawkish, without sparkle,
zestless as slops
and among my people
the springwell is being forgotten.

''Tis hard to find a well nowdays',
says Bridget filling the bowl again.
'They're hidden in rushes and grass,
choked by green scum and ferns,
but, despite the neglect,
they've lost none of their true mettle.
Seek out your own well, my dear,
for the age of want is near:
There will have to be a going back to sources.'











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