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31 August 2014
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Poetry - Study Ireland

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KS 3 / 4 BBC TV

A Sense Of Place

Cathal O Searcaigh says:

'...the area is Irish speaking and I was brought up speaking Irish...Irish is the language of my soul.'

'...that whole idea of home is a vitally important thing to my work. I only discovered this when I was a teenager and I went off to London. I became acutely aware then of home and became aware that I was in an alien environment...something of not being recognised, of not having a face, of not having a name, of not having a place and I realised that all of these were here.'

'...a lot of my poems have become an act of re-possession. Re-possessing tongue and tradition to a large extent.'

Anseo ag Staisiun Chaiseal Na gCorr
Do Michael Davitt

Anseo ag stáisiún Chaiseal na gCorr
d’aimsigh mise m’oileán rúin
mo thearmann is mo shanctóir.
Anseo braithim i dtiúin
le mo chinniúint féin is mo thimpeallacht.
Anseo braithim seasmhacht
is mé ag feiceáil chríocha mo chineáil
thart faoi bhun an Eargail
mar a bhfuil siad ina gcónaí go ciúin
le breis agus trí chéad bliain
ar mhínte féaraigh an tsléibhe
ó Mhín ‘a Leá go Mín na Craoibhe.
Anseo, foscailte os mo chomhair
go díreach mar bheadh leabhar ann
tá an taobh tíre seo anois
ó Dhoire Chonaire go Prochlais.
Thíos agus thuas tím na gabháltais
a briseadh as béal an fhiántais.
Seo duanaire mo mhuintire;
an lámhscríbhinn a shaothraigh siad go teann
le dúch a gcuid allais.
Anseo tá achan chuibhreann mar bheadh rann ann
i mórdhán an mhíntíreachais.
Léim anois eipic seo na díograise
i gcanúint ghlas na ngabháltas
is tuigim nach bhfuilim ach ag comhlíonadh dualgais
is mé ag tabhairt dhúshlán an Fholúis
go díreach mar a thug mo dhaoine dúshlán an fhiántais
le dícheall agus le dúthracht
gur thuill siad an duais.
Anseo braithim go bhfuil éifeacht i bhfilíocht.
Braithim go bhfuil brí agus tábhacht liom mar dhuine
is mé ag feidhmiú mar chuisle de chroí mo chine
agus as an chinnteacht sin tagann suaimhneas aigne.
Ceansaítear mo mhianta, séimhítear mo smaointe,
cealaítear contrárthachtaí ar an phointe.

Here at Caiseal na gCorr Station
For Michael Davitt

Here at Caiseal na gCorr Station
I discovered my hidden island,
my refuge, my sanctuary.
Here I find myself in tune
with my fate and environment.
Here I feel permanence
as I look at the territory of my people
around the foot of Errigal
where they’ve settled
for more than three hundred years
on the grassy mountain pastures
from Min a Lea to Min na Craoibhe
Here before me, open
like a book,
is this countryside now
from Doire Chonaire to Prochlais.
Above and below, I see the holdings
farmed from the mouth of wilderness.
This is the poem-book of my people,
the manuscript they toiled at
with the ink of their sweat.
Here every enclosed field is like a verse
in the great poem of land reclamation.
I now read this epic of diligence
in the green dialect of the holdings,
understand that I’m only fulfilling my duty
when I challenge the void
exactly as my people challenged the wilderness
with diligence and devotion
till they earned their prize.
Here I feel the worth of poetry.
I feel my raison d’etre and importance as a person
as I become the pulse of my people’s heart
and from this certainty comes peace of mind.
My desires are tamed, my thoughts mellow,
contradictions are cancelled on the spot.

Translated by Gabriel Fitzmaurice

Cathal O Searcaigh

Cathal O Searcaigh was born in 1956 in an Irish-speaking area of County Donegal. All of his work is in Irish and is published with English translations by other people. Much of his poetry is about the landscape near the small hill farm at the foot of Mount Errigal where he now lives. His collections include Suibhne (Sweeney), An Bealach 'na Bhaile (Homecoming) and Out in the Open. The O Searcaigh poem in this selection is Anseo ag Staisiun Chaiseal Na gCorr/Here at Caiseal na gCorr Station.

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