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Bateau sur la mer
Giacometti

A year ago, Domhnall Mac Síthigh (Danny Sheehy), died tragically in a boating accident off the coast of Portugal. We went to visit our great friend Maire Uí Ghráda, Danny’s widow. In the course of the visit, she brought us around her local area, Baile Eaglaise, and I got my first swim in the Atlantic in over 30 years. It was a wonderful time for all of us in the course of which this poem came in, as it were. I am grateful to Máire for the help she gave me correcting my very poor Irish, but in saying that I am glad to be having a go at it again after all these years. It connects me to a deeper part of myself for which I am grateful. 

A Sudden Bend in the Road

A sight I have not seen for years

two dogs drive cattle along

marshalled to the side

kept out of harm

from passing cars

on the narrow winding bóithrín*

controlled with military precision

by the lean rapidly leaping canines

An mbeidh báisteach amárach

a dúirt sí ón ngluaisteán

ní bheidh ar seisean.

bhfuel ní bheidh tú díomhaoin

tá a lán le déanamh

is fíor é, slán go fóill**

 

We moved slowly past

the narrow line in tight

formation

I am back in Baile Eaglaise

back in time

back to my own roots

a place I have missed

almost my whole life

back to the core of me

those cúpla focal as Gaeilge***

rock me into the steadiness

of who I am

fear cathrach Gaelach

mo shaol go hiomlán i mBéarla

is ganntanas é seo****

 

Peadar Ó Chleirigh

July 2018

 

*a small track of a road

**Will it rain tomorrow

she asked from the car

it won’t he replied

well you won’t be idle

there is a lot to do

that’s true goodbye

***a few words of Irish

****a city Irishman

reared entirely through English

and that’s a loss