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18 September 2014
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Wars and Conflict - The Plantation of Ulster

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Bardic Poetry
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7.   The Butter

The following poem shows some interesting personal touches. The poet is disgusted with a present of some butter he received. It was not well made and did not preserve well. It had a nauseating effect on everyone looking at it daily. It was a multicoloured specimen, most disgusting to look at, and turned everyone off butter. It was written by one of the finest Bardic Poets, Tadhg Dall Ó Huiginn (1550-1591) of County Sligo. He wrote many poems in honour of chieftains in Connacht and Ulster. We don’t know when this satire was composed or the exact circumstances surrounding its composition.

I myself got good butter from a woman
The good butter if it be good
I don’t think it came from a cow
Whatever its origin, it destroyed me.

Fuaras féin im maith ó mhnaoi,
an t-im maith, mása meith é,
dóigh linn nach fa bhoin do bhí,
an ní dá bhfoil do mhill mé.

There was a beard sprouting from it,
Bad health to the fellow’s beard
A juice from it as venomous as poison
It was tallow with a sour draught taste.

Do bhí féasóg ar bhfás air;
nárab slán d’fhéasóig an fhir!
súgh as nach neimhnighe neimh,
geir go mblas seirbhdhighe sin.

There was a strong stench from that fellow
That choked and stupified us
We imagined it to be multicoloured
Covered by a branching crest of fungus.

Do bhí ar an fhearsoin túth trom
do mhúch is do mhearuigh ionn;
tarfás dúinn gach aondath ann,
barr craobhach clúimh ós a chionn.

It had never seen the salt
The salt never saw it except at a distance
Its memory does not leave us in health
White butter bluer than coal.

Ní fhaca sé an salann riamh,
ní fhaca an salann é acht uadh;
ní léigfe a chuimhne sinn slán,
im bán as guirme iná an gual.

          Full poem lyrics Full lyrics of poem

8.   A Poem on the Downfall of the Gaoidhil

This poem describes the state of Ireland about the time of the Plantation of Ulster. The views expressed in the poem are those of the dispossessed. The halls of Ireland are empty and its people dispersed in every direction and are now to be found throughout Europe. They have been replaced by Saxons and Scotch, who have divided the land up among themselves. Mass must be served in the open air protected by hedges. White multipillared courts or houses have sprung up all over the land. Devotion to harp music and to poetry has gone forever. We must place the protection of Ireland and its people in the hands of God. It is his vengeance that has caused this state of affairs.

They divide it up amongst themselves,
this territory of the children of noble Niall,
without a jot of Flann’s milky plain
that we don’t find becoming (mere) ‘acres’.

Roinnid í eatorra féin,
an chríoch-sa chloinne saoirNéill,
gan phoinn do mhoigh lachtmhair Fhloinn
nach bhfoil ‘na acraibh agoinn.

Heavy is the shame! We have come to see
seats of government being made desolate,
the produce wasting in a stream, dark thickets
of the chase become thoroughfares.

Tarramar - trom an pudhar -
puirt oireachais d’fhásughadh,
na torchoirthe ag searg a sreibh,
dorchfhoithre sealg ‘na sráidibh.

A congregation of rustics in the home of Saints,
God’s service under the shelter of bright branches;
(?) quilts of clergymen become cattle’s bedding,
the hillside is wrenched into fields.

Coimhthionól tuatha a ttigh naomh,
seirbhís Dé fá dhíon bhfionnchraobh,
cuilt chliar ‘na ccolcaidh tána,
sliabh ‘na gortoibh gabhála.

They find no sweetness in devotion to poetry,
the sound of harps or the music of an organ, nor
the tales of the kings of Bregia of the turreted walls,
nor the numbering of the ancient generations of their forefathers.

Ní binn leó díoghrais dána,
fuaim crot nó ceól orgána,
‘náid sdaire ríogh bheannmhúr Bhreagh,
nó riomh seanghlún a sinnsear.

The vengeance of God is the reason for it.
The men of Scotland, the youths of London
have settled in their place.
Where have the Gaels gone?

Díoghaltas Dé as adhbhar ann -
fir Albon, ógbhaidh Lunnand
do anadar ‘na n-áit sin -
cáit ar ghabhadar Gaoidhil?

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