More about Donegal Bards
Among the expanding published sources on Irish bardic poetry is "A New
History of Ireland", edited by T. W. Moody, F. X. Martin and F. J. Byrne,
published under the auspices of the Royal Irish Academy, Clarendon Press, 1976.
Of interest in the present case is chapter XX, "The Irish language in the
early modern period" by Brian O Cuiv, which treats of a great number of
bards while lamenting the vast amount of material by others as yet unpublished.
At page 538 O Cuiv gives a fuller picture of a bard mentioned in "The
Bards of Ireland--Part I", namely, Eoghan Ruadh Mac an Bháird, in
the following paragraph:
"Another, slightly later  manuscript contains a collection of
poems for the O'Donnells which covers an even wider span--from the thirteenth
century to the beginning of the eighteenth. One item in this manuscript deserves
special mention. It is an introductory note to an early-seventeenth century
poem which Eoghan Ruadh Mac an Bháird addressed to a book that he had
dedicated to Aodh O Domhnaill, son of the exiled earl, Ruaidhri. In view of
the strong call for national unity that the poem contains, the scribal note
is of considerable importance for, according to it, the book was a translation
of a work on the rules and art of war. Apparently Mac an Bháird had
made his translation on the Continent and was sending it to Ireland. Unfortunately
the translation [of the book] itself does not seem to have been preserved."
The following was Eoghan Ruadh's call from the heart for unity, translated
by Osborn Bergin, and bears repitition:
"O little book that bearest Aodh's name, in thee is ample lore, bound
for the Island of the Fair, of bright sward, lore that will be sweet to Ireland's
Here in our mother tongue--what provision could be nobler?--is learning that
will long be remembered in the land of Erin of green meadows.
Here is gathered a fair store of ears of corn gleaned from the field of famous
authors for the leader of the host of Gulban Guirt.
Godly instruction besides, and knowledge of the art of arms, thou hast now
for the land of Erin, with training in warfare and computation.
Whoso may be forming friendships in peace, thwarting evil and persecution,
or undertaking war, he is not ripe without thy teaching.
Even for sons of the Church--well for those who read them--and whoso may
follow the profession of arms, it is no loss to such to look at thee.
When Aodh O Domhnaill, hope of his country, has read thee, O booklet, utter
what thou hast thereafter, hide it not from Dálach's good line.
From the race of Eoghan, one by one, or from the warriors of Cinel Conaill
conceal nothing; win their regard; it is fitting to share with the princes.
Nor from those who will love thee, descendants of Ír, Éireamhón
or Éibhear, or of Lughaidh, son of generous Íoth--they will
not be weary of hearing thee recited.
The Burkes and the Butlers will not be weary of thy tales, nor the Geraldines
who won affection beyond the old families of Fintan's land.
Conceal from the race of Gaoidheal Glas no knowledge that thou hast found,
nor from the Old English of the land of the Fair, with whom we, the warriors
of Ireland, have united.
The sons of the poets of Inis Fáil will be full of joy to greet thee,
repeating thee from mouth to mouth; knowledge of thee will be famous in the
Show reverence to everyone of the wise craftsmen; to them affection is due;
I put thee under their protection.
Though I present thee to Ó Domhnaill above all in Fintan's land, go
around the land on every side, share with every Irishman.
Our own Gaels and Fair Foreigners, blessings on them with sincerity. Take
my blessing to the land of Fál, a blessing go with thee now, little
Three centuries later another Mac an Bháird in Donegal, Seán
Ruadh, at the time unaware of Eoghan Ruadh's earlier call, issued a similar
plea for national unity. Needless to add, Eoghan's call was in vain, as was
the later one from which the following is extracted:
"Must we hang more young misguided men before the Irish Government takes
its courage in its hands and launches an all-out constitutional offensive
against Partition? Are we to continue to play the sickening game of Party
politics that has degraded Dail Eireann since the Civil War? Or, is there
still a spark of true traditional national sentiment left in the elders of
both big Parties that may bid them lay aside their personal spites and prejudices,
their bitter memories of things better forgotten, that they may before the
close of their days do the nation that one further service it demands of them,
the political and economic integration of this island?"
(The Donegal Vindicator September 3,1955)
That was fifteen years prior to the outbreak of three decades of "Troubles"
which caused over 3,000 deaths, and hundreds of thousands of grievous bodily
and psychological injuries, in the separated six counties of Ireland. Forty-five
years later, Partition has not yielded up one square inch of the occupied territory.
In fact, the amended Constitution of Ireland no longer clearly claims title
to those six counties.
Like the clans in earlier days, the political parties in the Dáil, mired
in spites, prejudices, and scandals, are incapable of uniting to ensure "the
right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland", as set forth
by those who signed the Declaration of the Irish Republic in 1916, and all of
whom were executed. More than seventy years of party political quarrelling between
them, and there is not one one square inch to show for it.
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