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The Shelter of Each Other

The Irish poet Padraig O Tuama considers an old Irish saying 'It is in the shelter of each other that the people live'.

The Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama considers an old Irish saying : "It is in the shelter of each other that the people live." The word for word translation is 'we live in each other's shadow'. But there is a beautiful ambivalence to this proverb thrown up by an island culture. The ambiguity lies in the word 'scáth' which can mean either shadow and shade or shelter and protection.

In a crowded rural culture, neighbourliness must have sometimes been a constricting shadow and sometimes a comforting shelter and protection.

With music from The Divine Comedy, Rita Connolly and Sinead O'Connor and extracts from the writings of Philip Pullman, Julia Spicher Kasdorf and Irish President Michael D Higgins, he considers how shelter and shadow can co-exist in our lives.

Produced by Rachel Hooper.
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

30 minutes

Last on

Sun 25 May 2014 06:05

Music Played

  • Brother by Micheal O'Siadhail

    This poem captures how sometimes, even unwittingly, one sibling puts another in the shade.

  • Michael D Higgins address given during 2014 State Banquet at Windsor Castle.

    In this excerpt the Irish President comments on the Irish word scáth.

  • Mennonites by Julia Spicher Kasdorf

    Kasdorf explores the complex identity that both shadows and shelters in her religious background.

  • The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

    On an epic journey, Lyra, is told that she has to meet her own death.

  • On Fairy Stories by JRR Tolkein

    Tolkein describes how what was most feared can become the source of good news.

  • John Spillane

    All the Ways you Wander

    • Life in an Irish Town.
    • Universal.
  • Shaun Davey & Rita Connolly

    The Deer's Cry

    • The Pilgrim.
    • Tara.
  • Sinéad O’Connor

    This is a Rebel Song

    • Gospel Oak.
    • Capitol.
  • Colm Mac Con Iomaire

    Emer's Dream (Aisling Eimear)

    • The Hares Corner.
    • Plateau Records.
  • Kenneth Nafziger & Eastern Mennonite University Chamber Singers

    Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow

    • Singing: Treasures From Mennonite Worship.
    • Herald Press.
  • Ralph Stanley

    O Death

    • O Brother Where Art Thou? Original Soundtrack.
    • Mercury.
  • The Divine Comedy


    • Fin de Siècle.
    • Setanta.
  • My Brightest Diamond

    I Have Never Loved Someone the Way I Love You

    • All Things Will Unwind.
    • Asthmatic Kitty.