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A sixteenth century bardic poem composed for Seán Mac Conmara,
Lord of West Clann Chuiléin by Luke McInerney
 

Textual Notes and Commentary; Poem with translation

The poem survives in several manuscripts, including RIA Ms 784 (q.v. Ms 23.G.9)
which was copied by the renowned poet and scion of the professional Mac Cruitín poetic family, Aindrias Mac Cruitín, in 1708. The poem was also copied by Mac Cruitín’s well-known kinsman Aodh Buidhe Mac Cruitín in 1712 (Maynooth Ms M107), whose poetic compositions have come down to us. RIA Ms 784 is a miscellany of poems and narratives such as Geoffrey Keating’s Foras feasa ar Éirinn and was assembled by Aindrias Mac Cruitín, himself a prolific poet.[90] Unfortunately, the original exemplar for Ms 784 is not known but it is likely that it was assembled from a variety of sources, given the type of material copied. The poem presented below is a transcription from one manuscript witness (Ms 784) and is not a critical edition offering variant readings from other extant manuscripts.[91] It is presented here for its relevance to the Mac Conmara lordship of West Clann Chuiléin and as an historical source in itself.

The poem called Créd fá seachnaim síol Aodha? is composed in the traditional
Deibhidhe manner which is a subset of Dán Díreach verse. Deibhidhe style was typical of poetry forms mastered by professional poets and indicated a level of accomplishment for a bardic poet, due to its strict adherence to complex rules and metre. Normally such poems were composed in darkness and initially learnt by memory, before being committed to manuscript form.[92] Often they were written to be sung with musical accompaniment such as harp and pipes.[93]

Deibhidhe style which the below poem was composed in has several chief characteristics. First, all lines comprise seven syllables and two words alliterate in each line. Also, the final word in the fourth line in each stanza alliterates with the previous stressed word. This contrasts sharply to the more fluid and unsophisticated poems, often in imperfect rhyme called bruílingeacht. Créd fá seachnaim síol Aodha? departs from the Dúnadh style whereby the poem ends on the same word as it begun. This is unusual for a Dán Díreach poem composed by a professional bardic poet and could be because part of the ending of the poem is missing, or was never transcribed by the copyist.

The poem below benefits from preliminary editing by Professor Damian McManus and his team at Trinity College, Dublin. The poem also benefits from minor editing by Professor Pádraig Ó Riain and Dr Eoghan Ó Raghallaigh and to this end represents a first attempt at an approximate translation. Bardic poems can serve as a new focus on research into Gaelic lordships and the mentality of the Irish learned classes and, used with caution, can be mined for factual historical information.[94] It is with this is mind that Créd fá seachnaim síol Aodha? can throw some light on the social history of an otherwise little studied Gaelic polity, the sixteenth century lordship of West Clann Chuiléin in modern County Clare.


External Link:
‘Créd fá seachnaim síol Aodha?’ Read by Risteárd Ua Cróinín. Recorded at Dysert O’Dea Castle, 6 July 2014.


Créd fá seachnaim síol Aodha?
síol frisarbh f[h]err iontaobha
siol fíneamhna is trom tora[i]dh
ríghealbha a fonn f(h)ionnAdhair.

Why do I avoid the descendants of Aodh?
A family in whom it is better to trust,
A family whose vines bear heavy fruit
Regal herd from the land of fair Adhar.


Síol sin is uaisle ná an t-ór
síol Aodha is truime tionól
siol na ríogh ó Cheann Choradh
síol na cceall do chothúghadh.

A tribe more noble than gold,
Descendants of Aodh of the mightiest assemblies,
Descendants of the kings of Kincora.[95]
A tribe that nurtures churches.

Filleadh orra ní leasg leam
d’éis mo chuarta air f[h]edh Éireann
cóir toighiocht ’na ccoinne céim
ó oighreacht chloinne Choiléin.

I am not reluctant to return to them
After my journey throughout Ireland,
I should take a step towards them
From the inheritance of Clann Choiléin.[96]

A ndearmad ní dhlíghim féin
do-gheibhim ó chloinn Choiléin
a n-ám cómhóla is caithmhe
barr onóra is órduighthe.

I should not forget them;
I receive from Clann Choiléin
In times of communal drinking and feasting,
Great honour and status.

A-tá m’fherann fós fúthaibh
mé aca ní handúth(ch)aigh
seanadhba(dh) nách cóir do choill
róimh na healadhna an Árdchoill.

My land is still held from them,
I am no stranger among them.
Ardchoill – that Rome of the arts[97]
An old abode that should not be violated.

Don Mhumhain [do] ghabh[s]a(i)d greim
deighshliocht Luighdhioch Menn mhéirsheing
ar ccur cúil ré mín Mumhan
do thnúth ré tír Tuadhmhumhan.

They took possession of Munster,[98]
Goodly descendants of slender-fingered Lughaidh Meann[99]
Turning their backs on fair Munster[100]
In anticipation of the land of Thomond.

Leo Port Láirge is Luimneach Luirc
is Caisiol na ccraobh n-orrdairc
sealbh an fhuinn ag clannaibh Cais
a-nallainn do dhruim dúthchais.

Theirs is Waterford and Limerick of Lorc
And Cashel of the noble branches,
The possession of the land by the tribes of Cas,
From former times on account of their inheritance.

Fá leó múr Cliach is Cláire
is Dún Eochair fhionnMháighe
fa fonn mhín im linn Luimnigh
gur fhill don tír Tuaidhmhuimhnigh.

Theirs were the forts of Cliú and Cláire[101]
And Dún Eochair by the fair Maigue,[102]
It was level land about Limerick’s sea [Shannon estuary],
Until they returned to the lands of Thomond.

Ceithre mic maithe ag Mac Con
Síoda Cam, Séa[a]n séaghmhar,
Cú (í) Mheadha, Donnchadh dealbhdha
torcha(i)r feadha fíneamhna.

Four goodly sons, had Mac Con:
Síoda Cam,[103] Seán the excellent,
Cú Mheadha, and Donnchadh the statuesque.
Offspring of the sylvan vine.

Sliocht Shíoda Chaim ón Ros Ruaidh
sliocht airir la mná is marcshluagh
laoich neamhchumhga ar tháille in tuir
c(h)eathramhna áille in Iobhair.

Descendants of Síoda Cam of Rosroe,[104]
A line whose womenfolk and horsemen were plentiful,
Generous warriors on the battlements of the tower
The beautiful district of the Iobhar.[105]

Sliocht Cho(i)n Méadha mór a mbrígh
ríoghraidh réidh Rátha Laithín
is laochradh bhenn Bhaile an tSléibhe
dream gan aire air aimhréidhe.

Descendants of Cú Mheadha — great their strength.
Steady royalty of Rathlaheen,[106]
Warriors of the peaks of Ballintlea,[107]
Who paid no heed to unevenness.[108]

Sliocht Donnchaidh an ghu(i)rm(á)gha ghéir
laochraidh Bhéil Átha hOighnéin
ní clú a n-aisgidh fuair soin
buaidh ngaisgidh ar in laochraidh.

Descendants of Donnchadh of the iron-grey sharp spear,
Warriors of Ballyogan.[109]
They did not receive their glory as a free gift,
They are warriors of superior valour.

Sliocht tSeaáin mhóir mhic Mic Con
san lorg díreach linn leantur
coil chnuasaigh gan chéim ccoire
suas san réim ríoghraidhe.

Descendants of Sean Mór, son of Mac Con,
In the direct line we follow:
Fruitful branch without a step of trespass,
Upward in the succession list of kings.

Tús is deireadh a n-am áigh
a-tá ag síol Aodha d’urláimh
caor shluagh budh buaine brígh
is guaille eoil gach áirdrigh.

The descendants of Aodh have custody of the van
And rearguard in every battle,
Berry-red army of enduring vigour,
The shoulder of knowledge of every high-king.

Cas mac Conaill na ccolg síth
do-níd[h] fál do chloinn Chaisín
beag ’gá ttéid im chlaon aicme
dá ghéig chumhra chlannmhaicne.

Cas son of Conall of the fairy-swords,
He makes a fence/hedge in Caisín’s family.
Few of his fragrant line of descendants
Become a perverse class.
 

Fine Bhloid go teacht dá ttír
athair Bhloid chródha is Chaisín
bheith fá ccoim dóibh is daingne
slógh nár choill a ccómhairge.

The race of Blod,[110] before coming to their land,
The father of brave Blod and Caisín.
It is most secure to be under their protection,
A host that did not violate their protection.[111]

Beith riú go héadmar ní háil
sliocht Bhloid is seintsliocht tSeaáin
do-dhén féin d’uaim ré ar-oile
dá dhuain don réim ríoghraighe.

To be jealous of them cannot avail,
The descendants of Blod and ancient line of Seán,
I myself shall join together[112]
Two poems that enumerate the kings.

Mac Con Mara nár mhuigh mhionn
a shlán fá uaislibh Éirionn
aonúmhla d’aon acht d’úa Bhriain
ríogha is flaitheamhla a finnChlia[i]ch.

Mac Con Mara who never broke an oath,
His surety on the nobility of Ireland.
Subject to no one but Ua Bhriain,
The most princely kings of fair Cliú[113]

D’éis buadha do bhreith a ttroid
a mbreith féin is ann iarraid
go ttriallaid a cceann chosgair
ní iarraid teann tuarusdail.

After victory in battle
Their own choice is what they seek.
Until they go in quest of spoils,
They do not ask for a firm reward.[114]

An ghasradh ghreadach ghrádhach
chupach chórnach chupánach
tromdhámhach torthach [leg. tairtheach?] as-tigh
cómhdhalach caithfeach coibhsigh.

The smiting and loving youths,[115]
Tippling, supping, drinking,
[Having] great bardic company, fruitful at home
Given to assemblies, fond of spending, masterful.

Tiaghaid uime a-niar ’s a-noir
síol Aodha an aigne uasail
fiú an fhocail d’iomrádh ní háil
acht binnghlór socair Sheaáin.

They gather around him from west and east
The descendants of Aodh of the noble mind.
They desire to hear no word
Except the steady sweet voice of Seán.[116]

Críoch iona lia mil is meas
críoch ionar mó gach maitheas
críoch (io)’nar lia do bhuaibh bleachta
is (io)’na lia cruacha [leg. cruaigh?] cruithneachta.

A land that is plentiful in honey and forest fruit,
A land that is full of every good thing.
A land of many milking cows
And bountiful wheat stacks
 

Críoch easach innseach [fh]éarach
críoch chruithgheal chaomh chaisleánach
críoch shéadach fholtach fhuilteach
torthach trédach thiodhlaictheach.

A district of waterfalls, islands and grass,
A district of bright shape and beautiful castles,
A district of gems, fine locks [of hair] and fine bloodlines.
Fruitful, well-flocked, generous.

Ó Thadhg mhac Mic Con na ccreach
sliocht mhic Taidhg na ttres neimhneach
sluagh trealmhach bruthmhar buadhach
cruthghlan mheanmnach mharshluaghach.

From Tadhg the grandson of Mac Con of the campaigns,
Descendants of the son of Tadhg of the virulent battles,
A well-equipped group, ardent and victorious,
Shapely, high-spirited, cavalrymen.[117]

Fríth lé sliocht Flannchadha finn
meic Néill meic Aodha d’uirrim
lucht deaghgharma nách gann geall
barr ealadhna na hÉireann.

Found among the descendants of fair Flannchadh,
Son of Niall, the son of the renowned Aodh,[118]
A praiseworthy people not lacking in pledges
The choice of the learned classes of Ireland.

Ag sin síol an tora[i]dh thruim
deighshíol Donchadha meic Domhnaill
síol lámhghlan nách síol singil
síol ádhbhor an oirchinnigh.

Behold the seed of the heavy fruit,[119]
Goodly descendants of Donnchadh son of Domhnall,[120]
A progeny of clean hands that is no humble people.[121]
The warlike descendants of the erenagh.[122]

Ceithre tréithe thuilleas ann
gaisge is fírinne is fulang
gan díth féile ar fhlaith Leamhna
maith na tréithe tí(a)ghearna.

Four characteristics for which they are reputed:
Bravery, veracity, endurance —
Without lack of hospitality is the Prince of Leamhain,
Good traits for a lord.

Ó Rinn Eanach na n-eathar
críoch chómhfhada chóimhleathan
gus an ccaladh fá Chluain Ruis
nár hanadh uaibh ’na n-éagmais.

From Rineanna[123] of the ships,
A district broad and long.
To the port of Clonrush,[124]
Let it not be without ye[?].

Ó Luchad na learg ndomhain
ceart búr ccríche an ccualamhair
bhúr ttarrang[126] ar ttriall uime
go sliabh álainn Fhéilime.

From Luchaid[125] of the deep hillsides,
Have you heard the extent of your patrimony[?]
Drawing you after travelling about it,
To the beautiful Slieve Feilim.[127]
 
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