The Most Irish Parish

Aodh O'Canainn

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A Rich Inheritance

The ancestral heritage of Inishowen includes the poetry of St. Mura of Fahan in old Irish, the composition of the monk Maelíosa O Brolcháin of Culdaff, including the hymn 'Deus Meus' which alternates between Latin and Irish. In 1705, Donncha O Muirgheasáin of Clonmany wrote an elegy , in Irish, on the death of the Scottish chief, Norman MacLeod. After the loss of the old patronage system, which supported the poet, poetry became the property of the common people. There was a poet in Malin called Séan Mac an Mherige (O Dochartaigh) who fought with King James at the Battle of the Boyne. The old man's battle was the demon whiskey.

Ach go mbreachtar mo mhalai is go liathtar mo cheann
Comh geal leis an eala ar an chnoc is ar linn
Go dteidh mo bhean sa talamh is i ndiaidh í féin a clann
Beidh mo dhúil sna cannai is go siorrai ins an dram.
(Until my eyebrows are dappled and my head turned grey
Or white as the swan on the hill and lake
Until my wife goes in the clay and after her the children lay
I'll still desire the glass, for ever love the dram.)

Another poet of the Clonmany area was Donncha O'Dónaill who wrote the best known song in Irish in Inishowen. Pléaracha na bPollán. He was also fond of the poitin;

Ag pilleadh aníos as Aonach na bPollán dom,
Tá mé 'mo chodladh is ná dúisítear mé,
Le héirí na gealaí is le glaise na maidne
Tá mé 'mo chodladh is ná dúisitear mé,
Cluinfear mo cheol, mo ghlór is mo challán ann,
Tá mé 'mo chodladh is na dúisítear mé,
Carna mionna móra as nós mar bheadh dragan ann,
Chá dtéann tost ar mo scóig, ach ag ól, go raibh maidin ann
Tá mé 'mo chodladh is na dúisítear mé

(Coming back from the Pollan fair,
I'm asleep, don't waken me,
By the rising of the moon and the raw dawn,
I'm asleep, don't waken me,
They'll hear my song, my voice and my clamour,
I'm asleep, don't waken me,
A heap of curses like from a dragon
My throttle never ceases, but drinking till morn'
I'm asleep, don't waken me.)

You may notice some differences between the Irish of the above and that of West the use of 'duisigh' instead of 'muscail', for example. The reason for the difference is that Inishowen Irish related to East Ulster Irish, as did that of Derry and Tyrone.

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