Credit: JB Yeats impression of Eibhlín Dhubh Ní Chonaill

ON THIS DAY: 4 MAY 1773 : Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill wrote the beautiful lament for her murdered husband Airt Uí Laoghaire

Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill c. 1743 — c. 1800, was an Irish noblewoman and poet, and the composer of Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire, a lament she wrote for her husband who was murdered by Abraham Morris, a planter and Sheriff in Cork.

In 1767 she fell in love with Captain Art Ó Laoghaire of Rathleigh, Macroom who had recently returned from service in the Hungarian Hussars. Eileen was 23. Airt was 26. With the marriage against the express wishes of her family, Airt and Eileen eloped and settled down at Rathleigh with Art’s father, Cornelius Ó Laoghaire. They had five children, three of whom died in infancy. She was pregnant at the time of Airt’s death.

Airt and Eibhlín came from important Irish families. The earls had fled from Ireland to the European continent, consolidating the complete collapse of the old order. Part of the surviving Catholic nobility, because of the draconian Penal Laws, which made it made it impossible for 95% of the population to receive an education or have a career in their own country, Airt was educated on the Continent, and served as a hussar in the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Because of the Penal Laws, all Irish Catholics had to endure severe restrictions on employment, trade, ownership of property and the practice of their religion. Lack of opportunity in Ireland resulted in thousands of Irish men and women leaving for Europe and America; indeed, this was why Art had sought military service in the first place.

Sheriff Morris vigorously attempted to enforce these those Penal Laws, while Art made regular attempts to overcome them, resulting in extremely bitter and personal enmity between the two.

The dispute came to a head in 1773 when Airt’s horse beat Morris’s horse in a race in Macroom Races, and in a temper Morris offered Airt five pounds for his horse. According to the Penal Laws, a Catholic could not own a horse worth more than five pounds, so Morris was invoking this law, though he knew it was an insult to Airt; it was about much more than the price of the horse.

Airt refused, and went on the run. A price of 20 guineas was put on his head. Once proclaimed an outlaw, he could be shot at sight quite legally, again under Penal Laws, where no Catholic or Irishman had fair redress in the justice system.

Ó Laoghaire attempted and failed to ambush Morris at Millstreet and soon after was shot at Carraig an Ime. His mare raced to Rathleigh, riderless, soaked in blood. Eibhlín Dubh mounted the mare and galloped back to Carraig an Ime, where she found Airt’s body.

She then composed the beautiful and poignant 390-line lament mourning Ó Laoghaire’s death and calling for revenge. The Caoineadh (‘lament’) was composed ex tempore, became part of the Irish oral tradition and was not written down until many years later. It has been described as “the most remarkable set of keening verses to have survived.”  According to an Oxford Don, the poem is the greatest poem written on these islands in the 18th century. According to great Seán Ó Tuama, Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire is the one of the greatest affirmations, in literature, of a woman’s love for a man.

 

Caoineadh Airt UÍ Laoghaire

B’fhéidir gur aithris Eibhlín na dréachtaí seo os cionn an choirp i gCarraig an Ime.

Mo ghrá go daingean tu!
Lá dá bhfaca thu
ag ceann tí an mhargaidh,
thug mo shúil aire dhuit,
thug mo chroí taitnearnh duit,
d’éalaíos óm charaid leat
i bhfad ó bhaile leat.

Is domhsa nárbh aithreach:
Chuiris parlús á ghealadh dhom,
rúrnanna á mbreacadh dhom,
bácús á dheargadh dhom,
brící á gceapadh dhom,
rósta ar bhearaibh dom,
mairt á leagadh dhom;
codladh i gclúmh lachan dom
go dtíodh an t-eadartha
nó thairis dá dtaitneadh liorn.

Mo chara go daingean tu!
is cuimhin lem aigne
an lá breá earraigh úd,
gur bhreá thiodh hata dhuit
faoi bhanda óir tarraingthe;
claíomh cinn airgid,
lámh dheas chalma,
rompsáil bhagarthach –
fír-chritheagla
ar námhaid chealgach –
tú i gcóir chun falaracht
is each caol ceannann fút.
D’umhlaídís Sasanaigh
síos go talamh duit,
is ní ar mhaithe leat
ach le haon-chorp eagla,
cé gur leo a cailleadh tu,
a mhuirnín mh’anama….

Mo chara thu go daingean!
is nuair thiocfaidh chúgham abhaile
Conchúr beag an cheana
is Fear Ó Laoghaire, an leanbh,
fiafróid díom go tapaidh
cár fhágas féin a n-athair.
‘Neosad dóibh faoi mhairg
gur fhágas i gCill na Martar.
Glaofaid siad ar a n-athair,
is ní bheidh sé acu le freagairt….

Mo chara thu go daingean!
is níor chreideas riamh dod mharbh
gur tháinig chúgham do chapall
is a srianta léi go talamh,
is fuil do chroí ar a leacain
siar go t’iallait ghreanta
mar a mbítheá id shuí ‘s id sheasarnh.
Thugas léim go tairsigh,
an dara léim go geata,
an triú léim ar do chapall.

Do bhuaileas go luath mo bhasa
is do bhaineas as na reathaibh
chomh maith is bhí séagam,
go bhfuaras romham tu marbh
Cois toirín ísil aitinn,
gan Pápa gan easpag,
gan cléireach gan sagart
do léifeadh ort an tsailm,
ach seanbhean chríonna chaite
do leath ort binn dá fallaing —
do chuid fola leat ‘na sraithibh;
is níor fhanas le hí ghlanadh
ach í ól suas lem basaibh.

Mo ghrá thu go daingean!
is érigh suas id sheasamh
is tar liom féin abhaile,
go gcuirfeam mairt á leagadh,
go nglaofam ar chóisir fhairsing,
go mbeidh againn ceol á spreagadh,
go gcóireod duitse leaba
faoi bhairlíní geala,
faoi chuilteanna breátha breaca,
a bhainfidh asat alias
in ionad an fhuachta a ghlacais.

 

II

Nuair a shroich deirfiúr Airt (ó Chorcaigh) teach an tórraimh in aice Mhaigh Chromtha,
fuair sí, de réir an tseanchais, Eibhlín roimpi sa leaba. Seo roinnt den bhriatharchath a bhí eatarthu.

Deirfiúr Airt:

Mo chara is mo stór tú
is mó bean chumtha chórach
ó Chorcaigh na. seolta
go Droichead na Tóime,

do tabharfadh macha mór bó dhuit
agus dorn buí-óir duit,
ná raghadh a chodladh ‘na seomra
oíche do thórraimh.

Eibhlín Dhubh:

Mo chara is m’ uan tú!
is ná creid sin uathu,
ná an cogar a fuarais,
ná an scéal fir fuatha,
gur a chodladh a chuas-sa.
Níor throm suan dom:
ach bhí do linbh ró-bhuartha,
‘s do theastaigh sé uathu
iad a chur chun suaimhnis.

A dhaoine na n-ae istigh,
‘bhfuil aon bhean in Éirinn,
ó luí na gréine,
a shínfeadh a taobh leis,
do bhéarfadh trí lao dho,
ná raghadh le craobhacha
i ndiaidh Airt Uí Laoghaire
atá anso traochta
ó mhaidin inné agam?…

M’fhada-chreach léan-ghoirt
ná rabhas-sa taobh leat
nuair lámhadh an piléar leat,
go ngeobhainn é im thaobh dheas
nó i mbinn mo léine,
is go léigfinn cead slé’ leat
a mharcaigh na ré-ghlac

Deirfiúr Airt:

Mo chreach ghéarchúiseach
ná rabhas ar do chúlaibh
nuair lámhadh an púdar,
go ngeobhainn é im chom dheas
nó i mbinn mo ghúna,
is go léigfinn cead siúil leat
a mharcaigh na súl nglas,
ós tú b’fhearr léigean chucu.

III

Cuireann Eibhlín a mórtas as a fear céile in iúl go lánphoiblí sna
dréachtaí seo. B’fhéidir gur aithris si an méid seo tar éis don chorp
a bheith rétithe le haghaidh an adhlactha.

Eibhlín Dhubh:

Mo chara thu is mo, shearc-mhaoin!
Is gránna an cháir a chur ar ghaiscíoch
comhra agus caipín,
ar mharcach an dea-chroí
a bhiodh ag iascaireacht ar ghlaisíbh
agus ag ól ar hallaíbh
i bhfarradh mná na ngeal-chíoch.
Mo mhíle mearaí
mar a chailleas do thaithí.

Greadadh chúghat is díth
á Mhorris ghránna an fhill!
á bhain díom fear mo thí,
athair mo, leanbh gan aois:
dís acu ag siúl an tí,
‘s an tríú duine acu istigh im chlí,
agus is dócha ná cuirfead diom.

Mo chara thu is mo thaitneamh!
Nuair ghabhais amach an geata
d’fhillis ar ais go tapaidh,
do phógais do dhís leanbh,
do phógais mise ar bharra baise.
Dúraís, ‘A Eibhlín, éirigh id sheasamh
agus cuir do ghnó chun taisce
go luaimneach is go tapaidh.
Táimse ag fágáil an bhaile,
is ní móide go deo go gcasfainn.’
Níor dheineas dá chaint ach magadh,
mar bhíodh á rá liom go minic cheana.

Mo chara thu is mo chuid!
A mharcaigh an chlaímh ghil,
éirigh suas anois,
cuir ort do chulaith
éadaigh uasail ghlain,
cuir ort do bhéabhar dubh,
tarraing do lámhainní umat.
Siúd í in airde t’fbuip;
sin i do láir amuigh.
Buail-se an bóthar caol úd soir
mar a maolóidh romhat na toir,
mar a gcaolóidh romhat an sruth,
mar a n-umhlóidh romhat mná is fir,
má tá a mbéasa féin acu –
‘s is baolach liomsa ná fuil anois….

Mo ghrá thu is mo chumann!
‘s ní hé a bhfuair bás dem chine,
ni bás mo thriúr clainne;
ná Dónall Mór Ó Conaill,
ná Conall a bháigh an tuile,
ná bean na sé mblian ‘s fiche
do chuaigh anonn thar uisce
‘déanamh cairdeasaí le rithe –
ní hiad go lér atá agam dá ngairm,
ach Art a bhaint aréir dá bhonnaibh
ar inse Charraig an Ime!
marcach na lárach doinne
atá agam féin anso go singil —
gan éinne beo ‘na ghoire
ach mná beaga dubha an mhuilinn,
is mar bharr ar mo mhíle tubaist
gan a súiile féin ag sileadh.

Mo chara is mo lao thu!
A Airt Uí Laoghaire
Mhic Conchúir, Mhic Céadaigh,
Mhic Laoisigh Uí Laoghaire,
aniar ón nGaortha
is anoir ón gCaolchnoc,
mar a bhfásaid caora
is cnó bui ar ghéagaibh
is úlla ‘na slaodaibh
na n-am féinig.
Cárbh ionadh le héinne
dá lasadh Uíbh Laoghaire
agus Béal Atha an Ghaorthaigh
is an Uigdn naofa
i ndiaidh mharcaigh na ré-ghlac
a níodh an fiach a thraochadh
ón nGreanaigh ar saothar
nuair stadaidís caol-choin!
Is a mharcaigh na gclaon-rosc  —
nó cad d’imigh aréir ort?
Óir do shíleas féinig
ni maródh an saol tu
nuair cheannaíos duit éide.

IV

Déanann deirfiúr Airt a caoineadh féin anseo. Nuair a luann sí, na mná óga
a bhí mór le Art, spriúchann Eibhlín.

Deirfiúr Airt:

Mo ghrá is mo rún tu!
‘s mo ghra mo cholúr geal!
Cé ná tánag-sa chúghat-sa
is nár thugas mo thrúip liom,
nior chúis náire siúd liom
mar bhíodar i gcúngrach
i seomraí dúnta
is i gcomhraí cúnga,
is i gcodladh gan mhúscailt.

Mura mbeadh an bholgach
is an bás dorcha
is an fiabhras spotaitheach,
bheadh an marc-shlua borb san
is a srianta á gcroitheadh acu
ag déanamh fothraim
ag teacht dod shochraid
a Airt an bhrollaigh ghil….

Mo chara is mo lao thu!
Is aisling tri néallaibh
do deineadh aréir dom
i gCorcaigh go déanach
ar leaba im aonar:
gur thit ár gcúirt aolda,
cur chríon an Gaortha,
nár fhan friotal id chaol-choin
ná binneas ag éanaibh,
nuair fuaradh tu traochta
ar lár an tslé’ arnuigh,
gan sagart, gan cléireach,
ach seanbhean aosta
do leath binn dá bréid ort
nuair fuadh den chré thu,
a Airt Uí Laoghaire,
is do chuid fola ‘na slaodaibh
i mbrollach do léine.

Mo ghrá is mo rún tu!
‘s is breá thiodh súd duit,
stoca chúig dhual duit,
buatais go glúin ort,
Caroilin cúinneach,
is fuip go lúifar
ar ghillín shúgach –
is mó ainnir mhodhúil mhúinte
bhíodh ag féachaint sa chúl ort.

Eibhlín Dhubh:

Mo ghrá go daingean tu!
‘s nuair théitheá sna cathracha
daora, daingeana,
biodh mná na gceannaithe
ag umhlú go talamh duit,
óir do thuigidís ‘na n-aigne
gur bhreá an leath leaba tu,
nó an bhéalóg chapaill tu,
nó an t-athair leanbh tu.

Tá fhios ag losa Criost
ná beidh caidhp ar bhaitheas mo chinn,
ná léine chnis lem thaoibh,
ná bróg ar thrácht mo bhoinn,
ná trioscán ar fuaid mo thí,
ná srian leis an láir ndoinn,
ná caithfidh mé le dlí,
‘s go raghad anonn thar toinn
ag comhrá leis an rá,
‘s mura gcuirfidh ionam aon tsuim
go dtiocfad ar ais arís
go bodach na fola duibhe
a bhain diom féin mo mhaoin.

V

De bharr constaicí dlí, dealraionn sé nár cuireadh Art i reilig a shinsear. Cuireadh an corp go sealadach;
agus cúpla mí ina dhiaidh sin, ní foldáir, aistríodh i go mainistir Chill Cré, Co. Chorcaí. B’fhéidir gur
chuir Eibhlín na dréachtaí seo a leanas lena, caoineadh ar ócáid an dara adhlacadh.

Eibhlín Dhubh:

Mó ghrá thu agus mo rún!
Tá do stácaí ar a mbonn,
tá do bha buí á gcrú;
is ar mo chroí atá do chumha
ná leigheasfadh Cúige Mumhan
ná Gaibhne Oileáin na bhFionn.
Go dtiocfaidh Art Ó Laoghaire chúgham
ní scaipfidh ar mo chumha
atá i lár mo chroí á bhrú,
dúnta suas go dlúth
mar a bheadh glas a bheadh ar thrúnc
‘s go raghadh an eochair amú.

A mhná so amach ag gol
stadaidh ar bhur gcois
go nglaofaidh Art Mhac Conchúir deoch,
agus tuilleadh thar cheann na mbocht,
sula dtéann isteach don scoil —
ní ag foghlaim léinn ná port,
ach ag iompar cré agus cloch.

–Eibhlín Dhubh Ní Chonaill (ca 1743-1800)

 

JB Yeats impression of Eibhlín Dhubh Ní Chonaill lamenting her murdered husband Airt Uí Laoghaire

 

Tomb of Airt Uí Laoghaire in Cork

 

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