Dé hAoine 23 Nollaig 2011

Happy Yule!

<--- My Yule log :)

I had a conversation recently with someone about my paganism, and they asked me if I practiced, i.e. did magic. It turns out they were like myself -- we both read about our faith and its pratices, but didn't get around to being active about it. I've decided it's time for me to become a pagan of action!

I thought I had read somewhere about the wee ritual that I've undertaken tonight, but it actually must have come from my own devices. None of my sources have this simple gesture amongst their 'spells' or rituals. I must have tapped into the symbolism that we all share instinctively (whether folk listen to it these days or not...), and drew upon this reflection on the dark coming back into the light. All you need is a black candle, a white candle, a bit of peace, and yourself. You light the black candle, watch it burn, and reflect on whichever of these that suits (or all if you want!): a) qualities that have been dormant and hidden in you for too long; b) personal concerns or worries that you try to bury; c) events of the past year, good and bad (I know that the new year technically starts at Samhain, but you know what I mean...). You can do this all on one night, or on each night from the 20th-22nd. Then you light your white candle from the flame of the black, to signify the transition from the reign of darkness to light. Leave both lighting for a while as you visualise in your mind the transition, and figure out what it means for you. Then blow out the black candle, as the god of darkness has been defeated, and focus on the white, the victory/rebirth of the god of light. Reflect on the following in correspondence to your reflection(s) on the black candle: a) visualise the possibilities of your dormant qualities and talents, and putting them into practice; b) look forward to the days of light and imagine yourself overcoming current difficulties; c) think on what you want to achieve in the coming year. You can light your white candle for the following nights as a physical reminder of the positive outcome from your reflections.

What I love about paganism is that everyone has the power; I smiled to myself as I lit my candles on their brass candlesticks, thinking about how people feel the need to turn to priests and ministers in order to contact the divine. Nonsense -- organised religion removed people from the power that they already had, herding them into churches and removing from the real divinity of Nature.

Look at the solstice at Newgrange nowadays -- we used to be able to watch it on telly, then it went online with presenters that were also hooked up to the radio. Now it's merely a live video online with no commentary or pomp whatsoever. I suppose we should be grateful that we get to see it at all! Why have we become increasingly alienated from our heritage and our humanity? People need to realise that they have to take back their traditions and their spirituality for themselves, and not let people manipulate them and make a fortune out of their souls.

Dé Céadaoin 21 Nollaig 2011

Cabaret Craiceáilte

Nuachtlitir déanta ag Tomaí Ó Conghaile - an-fhont!
So bhí mé thuas (nó thíos -- dar le Nicholas Williams...) i nGaoth Dobhair ag an deireadh seachtaine -- den chéad uair ariamh! Yep, chuala tú i gceart mé. Ní raibh mé i dTír Chonaill (ceart) ariamh. N'fheadar cén fáth... Ceapaim anois gur chóir dom bheith ann fada fada ó shin! Táim cairdiúil le roinnt Conallaigh, agus bíonn muid ag caint is ag comhrá ar Twitter agus araile. Bím ag éisteacht le Rónán Beo, agus bhí mé ag caint ar an gclár féin faoi bhlagadóireacht na Gaeilge ar ais i mí Dheireadh Fómhair. Cloisim an-chuid tráchtanna ar Thigh Hiúdaí már lár-ionad na nGael, agus bíonn roinnt plotáil á dhéanamh ag daoine ann ar son na cúise -- Réabhlóid na Gaeilge! (Tá muid i mbun na Ruabhlóide anois freisin, ach ní féidir mórán a rá faoi sin nó beidh orainn tú a mharú -- t' fhios agat a' bharraíocht cheana!) Chuir cara liom ón gciorcal comhrá i Sligeach scairt orm chun mé a chur ar an eolas go mbeadh an Cabaret ar siúl, agus bhraith mé gur mithid dom freastal air. Ní raibh mé go maith le gairid, bhí croí trom agus spiorad lag a'm, agus bhí spraoi ag teastáil uaim. Agus bhfuil fhios a'd, b' é an Cabaret díreach an rud a bhí de dhíth orm! 

Cé gur newbie Craiceáilte mise, bhraith mé díreach "sa mbaile" i measc an chomhluadair bhreá a bhí ann -- cuireadh fáilte mhór Chonallach romham, agus táim an-bhuíoch as. :) Bhí mé ag caint leis na carachtair áitiúla, agus thug siad aire dhom agus ba mhinic i rith na hoíche go ndúirt fear acu liom "'Bhfuil tú alright?" Aww. Ní raibh aire ag teastáil, óir b' oíche ar dóigh faoi stiúir Rónáin a bhí ann, leis an gceol agus daoine ag casadh amhrán; Na Bonny Men, An Crann Óg, Bríd Ní hIcí agus Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhríde ina measc. Cheannaigh mé an ceirnín nua ag Doimnic ag an gCabaret actually -- déanann sé cóiriú spéisiúil ar na hamhráin, lena ghuth traidisiúnta féin, na píobaí agus téaduirlisí. Cheapfá gur meascán aisteach é, ach oibríonn sé! Ar nós rud eicínt as an 19ú haois. Tá sé deacair dhom é a mhíniú... Feicim íomhánna i m'intinn agus mé ag éisteacht le ceol, agus samhlaím áit lom, gruaimeach dorcha, ach tá tinte á lasadh ann... Oícheanta Geimhrí. Boladh na móna. Corrdhuine amuigh, ach daoine eile i bhfolach i dtithe. Ha, rud eicínt cosúil leis "The Darkling Thrush" ag Thomas Hardy. Fánach, t' fhios a'm. Táim ag éisteacht leis an gceirnín anois agus mé ag clóscríobh. T' fhios a'd go bhfuil grá, scéalta agus amhráin le fáil sna tithe sin i mo shamhlaíocht... An saol ag leanacht ar aghaidh faoin dorchadas. In ainneoin an dorchadais. Grianstad an Gheimhridh inniu, tá an stuif sin ar m'intinn. Pééééé scéal é...

Bhí orm mo chluas a chur i dtiúin leis an mblas Ultach, agus cuireadh iontas orm nuair a chuala mé "Caidé mar atá thu" -- gheallfainn dhuit go raibh mé ag cloisteáil "Ciamar a tha thu" sa nGàidhlig! Dúradh liom go bhfuil an chanúint i nGaoth Dobhair go mór faoi thionchar na Gàidhlige, ach wow, ní raibh fhios a'm go raibh sé chomh láidir sin! Tá nascanna láidre idir an ceantar agus Alban, le daoine ag aistriú idir an dá háit thar na glúine. Bhí an áit feiliúnach dhomsa mar sin, agus bhí Alban le brath. [Osna] Neamh. Actually, bhí an deis a'm labhairt as Gàidhlig le cailín eile ann; bha sinn air ar dòigh ghlan, ach bhí daoine eile ag breathnú orainn sa mhéid is le rá "Céard the fuck a bhfuil sibhs on about?" Ha! Táim ag gáirí anois agus mé ag smaoineamh ar an iar-chóisir a bhí 'ainn! Bhí cúpla duine 'ainn i dtosach, agus ansin, shíl gang mór isteach, randomers agus píobaí uilleann ina measc! Lean leis an gceol, amhráin agus an chaint go maidin. 

An chuimhin leat an blag a scríobh mé i rith an tsamhraidh, agus bhí mé ag gearán faoin scoilt idir Gaeilgeoirí na gcathracha agus muintir na Gaeltachta? Ní raibh taithí iontach mhaith a'm sa nGaeltacht roimhe seo, agus caithfidh mé a admháil anois go raibh cuid de sin mar gheall air m' easpa muiníne fhéin. Bhí taithí i bhfad níos difriúla a'm i nGaoth Dobhair ná mar a bhí a'm sna Gaeltachtaí eile. Nílim ag iarraidh bheith maslach in aghaidh mhuintir na nGaeltachtaí eile, ar ndóigh! Ach... Bhraith mé go raibh muintir Thír Chonaill oscailte agus bhí atmaisféar breá neamhfhoirmiúil lán de spraoi ag an gCabaret. Ní raibh éinne ró-dháiríre agus ní raibh brú ann -- bhí daoine ann chun bualadh le chéile agus ceoltóirí nua a spreagadh, trí mheán na Gaeilge. Sin an aidhm a bhí ag Rónán agus an criú leis an gCabaret nuair a chuir siad tús leis sa mbliain 2008 -- sult a bhaint as an gcultúr atá againn, idir stuif sean-bhunaithe agus stuif nua, agus daoine óga a mhealladh chun na teanga gan an bagáiste a bhíonns ag baint le heagraíochtaí mar Chonradh na Gaeilge. Tá ag éirí leo, dar liom, agus molaim go croíúil do dhaoine óga dul chuig an gCabaret agus gheobhaidh siad misneach iontu féin agus sa teanga (aríst). 

D'fhéadfá a rá go raibh mé ag troid leis an teanga ar feadh píosa, agus bhraith mé chomh... N'fheadar. As áit, ar an imeall? Ó thaobh na Gaeilge dhe. Ach tá Rónán agus an criú th'éis misneach agus dóchas a thabhairt dom aríst.

Dála an scéil, ag tagairt don bhlag sin aríst; thug an méid a scríobh mé le tuiscint gur chóir cainteoirí na gcathracha leanacht lena gcaint fhéin, gan bheith buartha faoi chanúintí áirithe toisc nach as na ceantair sin iad agus go bhfuil canúintí nua á gcruthú sna cathracha. Cac iomlán. IS GÁ dúinn uilig aird a thabhairt ar na canúintí a mhaireann, nó beidh siad caillte go deo. Tá an-ghaois le fáil iontu. Admhaím anois (bhuel, bím i gcónaí á admháil seo, ach pé scéal é) go bhfuil an-chuid le foghlaim den teanga a'm fós, agus níl an meon iomlán Gaelach a'm go fóill mar gheall air sin. Tuigim an scéal anois mar gheall ar mo thaithí leis a' Ghàidhlig -- táim chun canúint Earra-Ghàidheil a fhoghlaim, toisc go bhfuil sí i mbaol agus tá sí fíor-álainn. Yum yum i mo bhéal, na fuaimeanna! D'fhoghlaim mé cúpla nathanna nó frásaí agus mé ag caint le Conallaigh, agus is seodra iad! B'fhéidir go dtarraingeoidh mé cúpla tréithe Ultacha isteach. An féidir leis sin a dhéanamh? Sin plé le haghaidh blaga eile! Bhí mé ag smaoineamh go mbeidh sé go maith aistriú go Gaeilge Thír Chonaill mar gheall ar an nGàidhlig... Ach bheadh an t-idirdhealú idir an dá theanga deacair a dhéanamh i m'intinn, agus tá sé deacair go leor mar atá! Nílim chun mo bhlas a athrú, agus braithim go bhfuilim ró-chompórtach anois le Gaeilge Connachtach chun mo rogha de chanúint a athrú. An bhfuil baol ann go mbeidh mé i mo turncoat Ultach? Beidh le feiceáil...

Dé Céadaoin 30 Samhain 2011

Latha Naomh Anndra sona!

Beannachdan na fèille gam chàirdean an Alba air an latha sònraichte seo!

This is a day of national pride for the Scots, or it should be. It surprises me that St. Andrew's day is not given the proper, official treatment it deserves -- or am I? As a cog in the machine that is the 'United Kingdom' still, how can Scotland claim a day completely for itself, its citizens and its diaspora? A day of national pride is a dangerous thing in a union. However, I would say that on this particular St. Andrew's day, more Scots are thinking of independence, with the notion currently taking such a central position in Scottish political discourse. 

I just thought I'd share my thoughts on this auspicious day. As a person of culture, a student devoted to the Gàidhlig language, literature, culture and heritage, and with a growing curiosity in Lallans too, I'm going to stress how important cultural movements are in the freeing of a nation/people. My background in Gaeilge, Yeats and the Irish literary and cultural renaissance reinforces my conviction that Scotland can have her freedom by entering the Uamh an Oir of her culture and facing the monsters of post-colonial hang-ups. For there to be true independence, the national mind and spirit of the people must be set as free as possible from the shackles of colonialism. Of course, this is a very idealistic proposition. Freedom hasn't really happened fully in Ireland yet; we're still enslaved because we haven't dealt with our collective/native unconscious mind; we still repress the Gaelic side to our nature. Gaeilge is one of those creatures disfigured by colonialism that disgusts most people -- they would rather fight her back into the cave and curse her to eternal darkness. The thing is, neglected parts of the self rise up and revolt in nasty ways and come in many guises, sectarianism being one.

I truly believe that a renaissance and promotion of Scottish culture and heritage is needed, and I'm not alone in my conviction. Hugh MacDiarmid for one clung to this belief passionately. The language movement is already beginning; from what I can see, the Scots are doing really well in their efforts for the new promotion and preservation of their languages, culture and heritage -- Tobar an Dualchais is something that comes strongly to mind here. This centenary year of Somhairle MacGill-Eain's birth has proven to be a point of acceleration towards this ideal; wouldn't it be fitting to carry the burning torch of this year's success into the next, lighting the way for future possibilities?

Dé hAoine 18 Samhain 2011

diaspora* :: blow on the dandelion!

I subscribed to diaspora* just under a year ago, and was left waiting for an invitation from them to create a profile. They sent out the odd email, expressing their gratitude for my interest in the non-commercial, open source social network, and informing me that they hoped to get an invitation out to me asap. In the end, they didn't send me the invite -- two of my friends who succeeded in acquiring the coveted invitation did. I think this sort of gradual rolling out of invites does more damage than good; surely if a social network is to be successful, it needs to be more widely accessible? In fairness, work on the software for the social networking site only began in May 2010, so this gradual influx of its cyber population can be understood. The site is still in 'alpha testing' form, but for the sake of their success, I would urge a swift promotion of the site.

The diaspora* project was founded by Ilya Zhitomirskiy, Dan Grippi, Max Salzberg and Raphael Sofaer, students at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Yep, uber-nerds! Apparently, the lads were inspired to start the project by a speech given by Columbia University law lecturer Eben Moglen, who described centralised social networks as "spying for free". I'm inclined to agree -- my dad has always been wary of Facebook, and it's only in recent years that Facebook has come to show its true colours. Information about its users is actually priceless. Now and again, gullible people share the news on their statuses that Facebook plans to charge us for using the service; why would it enforce a fee, when we're already paying dearly for the service? Max Salzberg is reported as saying "When you give up that data, you’re giving it up forever ... The value they give us is negligible in the scale of what they are doing, and what we are giving up is all of our privacy." How right he is. That is the reason why he and his fellow students came up with diaspora*; to give real freedom back to social networking users, and to protect those users' right to ownership and control of their personal information. The Diaspora Foundation stated back in September 2010, "...our distributed design means no big corporation will ever control Diaspora. Diaspora* will never sell your social life to advertisers, and you won’t have to conform to someone’s arbitrary rules or look over your shoulder before you speak." Sounds good to me!
Even the name of the site is more appealing: diaspora, a scattered or dispersed population. Much more intelligent than Facebook. FACEbook. That name is ominous, suggesting a group of spies and informers in a dark room somewhere rifling through files of people's profiles. Have you seen that Take this Lollipop thing yet? Scared the crap out of me. That freaky man stands for greedy corporations, you know. 

diaspora* interface


So far, I can say that the interface of the site is quite close to that of Google+, and slightly like Facebook. Personally, I've been urging my people to abandon Facebook in favour of Google+ or diaspora*, though now I shall be urging more towards diaspora*, as Google want your info too -- they're certainly no angels; they're set on cyber-world domination by the looks of it. Facebook has actually become less user-friendly in terms of navigation in recent times, after their stupid changes to the interface and gradual rollout of the "Timeline". That I don't 'like'. When my friend sent me an invitation for diaspora*, he chose my language as Irish. (Good man!) I noticed this from the random words that appeared in Irish on the diaspora* website. A lot of translation work needs to be done, but all in good time. :) As far as I know, diaspora* are ahead of Google+ in this respect. All I know is that I'd rather translate for free for an open source, non-profit site than for corporation-corrupt Facebook!

You know you're entering non-mainstream territory when you see "stop censorship" slapped on a webpage. Obviously diaspora* are against US proposal for an Censorship Act "against piracy"; what exactly constitutes piracy? Anything that speaks the truth? Any platform that allows true freedom of expression? Any site that undermines corporate power? Diaspora* would undoubtedly be one of their targets. There are some sinister goings on in reaction to diaspora*. Apparently, PayPal froze the Diaspora Foundation funding account in October of this year. The account was unfrozen after much pressure and well-founded threats of legal action, and an apology was given. But no explanation. Dodge City. Apparently Facebook creator Mark Zuckerburg (F*ckerburg, more like!) donated money to the Diaspora Foundation, because "it is a cool idea". I'd mind him, lads! 

On joining diaspora* this evening, I find that co-founder Ilya Zhitormirskiy died on the 12th of November at the age of 22. Unreal. No cause of death has been given at this sensitive time, but don't you know, lack of clarification leads to gossip, and quite a few sources are claiming it was suicide. This would be tragic, for someone so young, so intelligent and so bright, with an innovative vision for cyber society. From his track record, he looks like someone full of the urge to live and to change the world. 

Despite governments' opinion [glares angrily in the direction of Dáil Éireann in her mind], students are the future, and they create the future. This group of lads have proven this. So if I send you an invite, join diaspora* and become part of the growing movement for true liberation of the web, and true freedom. Alternatively, you can sign up here, and wait patiently to be called upon...

Dé Máirt 15 Samhain 2011

Recent reflection

I feel that politics and linguistics have really bullied my spirit for inspiration of late. I feel so strongly about political justice, and yet it doesn’t seem to prompt a creative response in me. I look at Somhairle MacGill-Eain, who wrote fantastic poems of great political conviction and passion, and I feel that my inability to write on the subject is a failing on my part. I would like to take up a ‘bardic’ position, so to speak, in order to give voice to the politically voiceless in this fraud of a democracy. I want to write blistering satires on the perpetrators of political, social and economic injustice. As far as language is concerned, I’m aware that my standard in the minority language that I choose to write creatively in does not satisfy everyone. I feel barbed wire squeezing around my tongue when I attempt an emotional or creative utterance in such a beaten language. I look to the likes of Somhairle for hope, when all I feel is my own failing and lack of inherited tradition in comparison. However, to remain silent is to die. Not only would I have my own death on my hands, but the deaths of ideas, feelings, and the deaths of the languages I choose to write in.

Dé hAoine 28 Deireadh Fómhair 2011

Air thòir Somhairle!

It's quite frustrating for an Irish person when it comes to celebrating Somhairle MacGill-Eain's centenary birthday. I could only propogate his image and his words online through my Tumblr blog and Twitter, continue reading about Highland history, read some of his poems and have a glass of Scotch in his honour at home. I realise that there was a lecture given on Somhairle with an evening of Gàidhlig poetry and Scottish music as part of the IMRAM festival, but unfortunately I was unable to make it as I had to return to Louth. As a new Somhairle scholar, I feel like I should be at everything to do with the man, and everything to do with Gàidhlig. This, of course, is impossible. I'm only delighted that I could attend Ainmeil thar Cheudan at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig earlier this year, which was all the more fitting with the bona fide Highland backdrop and the Gàidhlig all around me. This is more comfortable (to me) than having Gàidhlig in the context of Gaeilge anyway; the time has come for Gàidhlig to stand in its own right, for the Gàidhlig voice to take precedence in describing itself and its culture, not English and not Gaeilge. (I can't wait for the day when I can write this in Gàidhlig!) Of course, speakers of Gaeilge and speakers of Gàidhlig will always be supportive of one another, and have a special friendship of mutual understanding. They should do, anyway. I would say that it's frustrating for Scottish people to celebrate Somhairle's centenary birthday! I'm only beginning to fully understand how marginalised the Scottish Gael is in Scottish discourse. The people of the Gaeltacht in Ireland may feel marginalised and at odds with the prevalent 'Irish' culture in the rest of the country, but at least they are cherished as keepers of Ireland's (true) culture. I think the people of the Gàidhealtachd still have a long way to go until they can feel like they can shout from the hills and rooftops with pride for the celebration of their artistic voice. It astounds me how many people have never even heard of Somhairle MacGill-Eain (or Sorley MacLean, for that matter...) That said, I took delight in the enthusiasm of those who work with Polygon (and Birlinn), who are based in Edinburgh and are the publisher of Somhairle's new collection of poetic writings. They had tweeted to wish Somhairle a happy birthday, and I tweeted back in Gàidhlig saying how I can't wait for my copy to arrive. They replied "Worth waiting for, it's sublime. All madly in love with Sorley at Polygon Towers!" Aww. :)

I think that I have literally been standing back and gaping in awe at Somhairle since I studied his poetry quite thoroughly during my Masters. I've been reveling in the passion, throwing myself into learning the language and acquiring the knowledge and understanding of the context of Highland history and culture. Whenever I pick up by copy of Dàin do Eimhir or O Choille gu Bearradh, my eyes widen at the richness and complexity of the language, and I feel ashamed that I have to take a glance at the English on the facing page. (Though I am happy that I can recognise when the English translation pales in comparison to the original in terms of meaning!) It is arrogant to think that an Irish speaker can just pick up a book written in Gàidhlig and understand it. You think you're getting the gist, then you realise that there are many 'false friends' and that you actually don't get it! At this stage, I can pick up a book of short stories by Iain Mac a' Ghobhainn and read away happily, understanding nearly every word. But Somhairle - wow. He is a true modern poet, writing about the complicated subject of the human condition in the complexity of poetic language, armed in the richness of the Gàidhlig and tradition that he inherited by birthright. You don't take up a book of Somhairle's poems lightly; you're literally picking up the weight of the human condition and the richness of Gaelic (and European) culture into tentative hands. This was a man who admitted to being an avid reader of history and philosophy, and who came from a long line of tradition-bearers.

Dé Luain 24 Deireadh Fómhair 2011

Secular morality, 'being good' and harnessing the dark side (basically people should have more sense)

The actions of my fellow people have hurt me over the past two days, and as a result I am entering hermit mode, forsaking society for the solace of books. But before I go, I just want to share a few jumbled thoughts. Yesterday I watched a film about poachers in Africa slaughtering and mutilating elephants and rhinos for ivory, because a lot of money can be made out of it. Today I hear of a much-beloved young man in Scotland who was tied to a lamp-post, beaten and scorched, possibly as an attack on his sexuality. In recent times, there is a general feeling amongst 'ordinary folk' that the people with positions of power are deliberately selling out their fellow people just so they can keep the wealthy wealthy (which has prompted 'the 99%' to come out and protest against the injustice of 'the 1%'). I am not saying that things are getting worse in our time, because I know that these types of horrors have been a reality forever. What I am suggesting, however, is that things should be getting better.

I recall a conversation with a friend of mine about morality; he studies philosophy and is an atheist, while (as you may know) I identify as a pagan, with a belief in some force that interconnects every living thing. We basically came to the agreement that a 'secular morality' is a higher form of morality, in the sense that a person who does good just for the sake of being good is far more noble than a person who 'does good' because they fear the wrath of a god who watches their every move. You do not need a religion to be moral. The Dalai Lama has suggested that qualities like love and compassion are human values that are independent of religion, and so can be promoted without the basis of a religion. If anything, religious organisations have propagated more hate and intolerence against certain groups throughout history. The manner in which they preach from 'holy texts' is negative, as they express morality (for the most part) in terms of prohibitions. This method merely discourages people from being their very worst, as opposed to encouraging people to be their very best. We're all here at this present moment, and the existence of everything under the sun is dependent on everything else, this is all we know. Though I don't agree with Objectivism, I'll quote Ayn Rand: "existence exists". Why would you want to hurt and exploit your fellow humans, your animal friends and your environment when all it does is cause suffering? We all came from the same basic source, we're inter-related. How could someone take pleasure in torturing and killing? Even people with a god looking over their shoulder do this. Perhaps this belief in 'the next life' has caused humankind to have so little respect for the life we're living now.

Dé Máirt 18 Deireadh Fómhair 2011

Siompóisiam ar Bhlagadóireacht na Gaeilge

© Pól Ó Duibhir, 2011
Bhí an deis agam páirt a ghlacadh sa siompóisiam ar bhlagadóireacht na Gaeilge in City Arts (suite ar Ché an  Bhaitsiléara, BÁC) chun tús a chur le IMRAM Féile Litríochta 2011 ar an Aoine seo caite (14ú Deireadh Fómhair). I dtosach, caithfidh mé buíochas ar leith a gabháil le Scott de Buitléir agus Liam Carson as an bpribhléid seo a thabhairt dom.

Ní raibheas ag tnúth le go mbeadh an méid sin daoine i láthair! Amharclann beag is ea í in ionad City Arts, ach bhí teach lán againn, le daoine ag teacht isteach agus ag seasamh ar chúl in aice leis na doirse. Meascán de chuile shórt duine a bhí ann, idir sean agus óg, idir fhir agus mhná, agus bhí sin an-spreagúil. B'fhéidir gur clísé seo, ach bhraith mé go raibh 'an-ghrá' sa seomra! Cé go mbím cúthaileach os comhair slua d'ardchaighdeán Gaeilge, bhíos ar mo shuaimhneas de bhrí na cuideachta tharam; bhí Scott de Buitléir ina fhear an tí, agus tá muid inár gcairde le blianta anois; ar an bpainéil liom, bhí Aonghus Ó hAlmhain, cara liom ar Twitter; Máire Burns, riarthóir an leathanaigh Facebook "Gaeilge Amháin"; agus Alex Hijmans, úrscéalaí den chéad scoth a bhfuil cónaí air sa mBrasaíl. Bhí sé chomh deas liomsa bualadh le hAonghus agus Máire ann, toisc nach raibh ach 'ríomhaithne' againn ar a chéile go nuige sin. (Goidim an focal sin ó Aonghus - is iontach an comhfhocal é!) Sa ngrianghraf thuas (tógtha ó bhlag 'An Cnagaire'), ó chlé go deas tá Alex, mé féin, Máire, Aonghus agus Scott. Cheap muid go raibh sé feiliúnach go raibh Alex inár láthair 'go fíorúil' trí Skype ar an scáileán galánta Mac agus muid ag plé le teicneolaíocht na Gaeilge! 

Níor mhair an phlé ach ar feadh uair a chloig, ach in ainneoin sin chlúdaigh muid cuid mhaith den ábhar. Rinneadh tagairt don 'Bhlagtacht', .i. 'blagaisféar' na Gaeilge, nó 'an Chiberghaeltacht', áit a bhfuil an deis ag Gaeilgeoirí ar fud na cruinne an teanga a úsáid go laethúil. Tá blagadóirí eolach ar a chéile, agus bíonn siad ag cur tráchtanna ar a mblaganna nó ag leanacht leis an bplé ar Twitter. Mar sin, téann Gaeilgeoirí in aithne ar a chéile, agus bíonn neart teagmhála agus comhrá ar siúl ar líne. Freisin, tá tionchar ag blagadóirí ar na meáin óir bíonn níos mó muiníne ag daoine i ngnáthdhuine eile, seachas in iriseoirí. Thug Aonghus léirmheasanna ar litríocht na Gaeilge mar shampla - bíonn léitheoirí ag roinnt a dtuairimí ar leabhair nua ar a mblaganna, agus spreagann sin plé ar an litríocht i bhfoirm tráchtanna ar an leathanach blaga nó i bhfóraim eile. Cuireadh an cheist orm faoin gcaidreamh idir an bhlagadóireacht agus an litríocht, agus dúirt mé gur céim eile atá sa mblagadóireacht chun nua-litríocht a chur chun cinn, agus as sin tá seans ann go bhfaighidh scríbhneoirí óga an deis chun a gcuid saothar a chur i gcló. Cé go bhfuil do chuid scríbhneoireachta 'foilsithe' de réir an dlí ar bhlag, d'aontaigh chuile dhuine go bhfuil rud eicínt 'oifigiúil' ag baint le leabhar nó alt i nuachtán. Maím go dtugann an bhlagadóireacht an seans do dhaoine óga muinín a bheith acu ina gcuid scríbhneoireachta féin agus í á roinnt ar líne os comhair pobail fairsinge, áit a bhfuil léitheoirí á léamh agus á spreagadh. Ní hamháin go bhfuil an bhlagadóireacht mar chéim do dhaoine óga lena ngairm scríbhneoireachta, ach tá sí mar bhreisiú don litríocht freisin; tá blag ag Alex Hijmans ag gabháil lena leabhar Favela, le caibidle nua nó ábhair nua a bhaineann leis an leabhar á roinnt air. Tá beatha nua tugtha do leabhair fiú amháin agus iad le fáil i riocht eile ar líne; tá léitheoirí in ann dul i ngleic le leabhar le cuidiú meáin eile. Mar a mhol Aonghus, tá blagadóireacht ag chur litearthacht na Gaeilge chun cinn chomh maith leis an litríocht, agus rinne Alex cur síos ar bhlaganna "mar fhuinneoga ar shiopaí liteartha na Gaeilge."

Dé Luain 10 Deireadh Fómhair 2011

Planet Word: Stephen Fry agus ceist na mionteangacha

Cheapas go roinnfidh mé cúpla smaoineamh ar an darna eipeasóid den tsraith Planet Word, ina dtéann Stephen Fry ar thuras teanga. Bhíos ag tnúth go mór leis an eipeasóid áirithe seo, toisc go raibh sé ag plé le cruachás mhionteangacha an domhain, an Ghaeilge ina measc. Bhreathnaigh mé air faoi dhó; ar an gcéad turas, d'fhág sé le blas searbh mé. Bhraith mé go raibh Mr. Fry ciotach le muintir na Gaeltachta; chuir sé as dom nach ndearna sé a dhícheall an Ghaeilge a fhoghrú i gceart, agus go raibh sé drochbhéasach nuair a bhain sé leas as intriachtaí as Fraincis le cainteoirí Bascaise agus Ocsatáinise (Occitan). Ar an darna turas, bhraith mé níos fearr, ach tá cúpla rud le rá agam faoi.

Anois, tá an-mheas agam do Stephen Fry - go deimhin, tá sé mar eiseamláir dom. Tá sé furasta an locht a chur ar Shasanach agus muid ag plé le hábhar íogair mar mhionlú teangacha. Is léir go bhfuil an cheist seo gar dá chroí, agus tá sé ag déanamh an-jab í a léiriú do lucht féachana coitianta. Sin ráite, measaim gur fiú dó a bhéal a choinneáil dúnta anois is aríst. Uaireantaí, tá cuma ar an scéal go bhfuil sé ag iarraidh a scileanna óráidíochta a chur in iúl seachas a bheith ag tabhairt na deise do na haoichainteoirí ar an gclár labhairt ar a n-ábhar. Labhraíonn sé thar an méid atá á rá acu go minic, agus ba cheart dó a gcuid tuairimí agus smaointí a ligean. Nach í an aidhm atá aige ná guthanna na ndaoine a chur i láthair ionas go mbeidh tuiscint níos cruinne ar cheist na mionteangacha? Is íorónta an rud é go bhfuil sé ag plé le teangacha á gcur i dtost, agus ní thugann sé an seans do na daoine a dtaithí a roinnt!

Is iad na rudaí a chur as dom go mór mór ná nár labhair na hÉireannaigh/Gaeil as Gaeilge, agus nár luadh Gàidhlig na hAlban nó Gaelg Mhanann. Rinne Fry tagairt don Bhreatnais (agus don Choirnis fiú!), ag cur TG4 i gcomparáid leis an méid atá ar siúl ag BBC Cymru. Bhí samplaí maithe tugtha dúinn de bhlas na Bascaise agus na Ocsatáinise, ach níor thug siad dúinn blas ceart den Ghaeilge á labhairt ag cainteoirí dúchais. Tosaíonn Fry lena phlé ar an nGaeilge agus é amuigh ar bhád i gConamara le hiascaire. Bhí cuma chiotach air nuair a fhiafraigh sé den iascaire an raibh sé dóchasach faoi thodhchaí na Gaeilge. Touchy subject a bhí ann, ag teacht ó Shasanach, gan amhras, agus bhí sé comhfhiosach faoi sin. Rinneadh an t-agallamh go hiomlán as Béarla, le seatanna gairide den iascaire agus a mhac ag obair ar an mbád agus ag caint as Gaeilge, ach go han-chiúin agus gan mórán á rá acu. Ceapaim gur chuala mé "just tóg é" i measc a gcuid cainte. Chun a bheith cothrom do Fry, bhí sé an-fheasach ar stair na tíre seo, agus dúirt sé féin "Imperialist Brit that I am, they're kind enough to speak English to me, which, given the history, is quite an ask." B'fheidir go bhfuilim ró-mhíleata uaireantaí i leith na teanga, agus b'fhéidir go mbeadh sé seafóideach duine a bheith ann ag caint as Gaeilge dó, agus duine eile á haistriú go Béarla, ach... Bhraith mé gur cheart do na hÉireannaigh agallamh a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge, ar mhaitheas sampla a thabhairt don lucht féachana ar an teanga, agus chun é a chur in iúl gur teanga bheo bhríomhar í in áiteachaí áirithe, nó i measc pobail áirithe, ba chóir dom a rá. Bhí díomá orm. Tá taithí agam fhéin lena bheith ag obair ar chlár faisnéise leis an mBBC, agus iarradh orm freagraí a thabhairt sa dá theanga (aríst, chun blas na Gaeilge a thabhairt dá lucht éisteachta).

Déardaoin 6 Deireadh Fómhair 2011

Haiku

Jasmine tea gifted
to me in green summertime
keeps my hands warm now

© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2011

Poetry of the self - an avian song

I’ve been asked what kind of bird I would be if I was of the feathered brethren. As a complicated person, I’m a shape-shifter, and wouldn’t be just one bird…

I can be high & mighty and fierce as a hissy swan, with thunderous wings.
I can be as brutal and exact as a barn owl, tearing prey to shreds without mercy.
I can be as lyrical and shy as a blackbird, fleeing when someone stops to listen.
I can be as mournful as a curlew, knowing my kind is dying away.
I can be as friendly and inquisitive as a robin, and just as scarlet!
I can be as flighty and airy as a wagtail, delighting in nonsensical things.
I can bawl like a peacock, and can be fond of my own plumage.
I can be consumed in my own path like a swallow, having to dodge an obstacle in my path at the last minute.
I can be as pensive as a crow, but need to acquaint myself with that darkness…
I can reforge myself as a phoenix, having been burned, but then so can everyone.


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2011

Dé Domhnaigh 11 Meán Fómhair 2011

Approaching 9/11

On 9/11/11, I find that I don't know what to say. But I feel that I can't let this day go by without offering some of my words. For all the coverage and comment on the attacks and the following trauma, there's a sense of something that has been left unsaid since that terrible day ten years ago. I don't think this feeling has been intentionally left unexpressed; I actually think that the darker side to human nature that was displayed on that day (and during the war that ensued) has struck a deep emotive part of our humanity dumb. 'Modernity' in literary terms is punctuated by the stark realities of war, as the First and Second world wars brought the horrors of the battle-field closer to home. The battle-field can be anywhere now, and attack can come from all directions. It seems that civilians are just as likely to be targeted as the soldier of war. We live in a continual state of fear, whether we're aware of it on a conscious level or not. Modern literature has the trait of being quite explicit, but words are not enough. Modern (and/or post-modern) writers continue to struggle with their craft in dealing with and addressing the issues of humanity in our new context. We haven't developed a healthy coping mechanism to deal with the trauma that humanity had suffered in a relatively short space of time in our history. Images of human destruction have begun to permeate our unconscious minds at such a fast rate and at a collective human level, and the effect is devastating. But it is unspoken. The 'anxiety' of modern life is often spoken of, but it's time that we addressed the causes of our anxiety. It's not enough to cover traumatising events in the media, and to film all sorts of documentaries about the people involved. It certainly helps, as it is a communal experience that transcends continents. But unfortunately it also has a bit of a superficial feel to it. It is remote. 

I admitted earlier that I didn't know what to say. I also don't know what exactly needs to be done to tackle our unconscious/subconscious. Everyone has their own way of dealing with trauma. Coming from an artistic approach, I would like to see people use creative methods of channeling their emotions, whether they understand them or not. I believe everyone has the capacity to be creative, and should not be afraid to reach inside themselves and pull whatever it is out of them and transfigure their feelings into some external form. [Sounds artsy fartsy, but I'm only expressing a simple proposition in an artsy fartsy way! :P] I'm not familiar with 9/11 art or writing, for example, but I'm sure it exists and I would like to seek it out and highlight it. I suppose our anxiety is linked to the notion of the individual. We feel alone in our individuality. We took it too far. We're still a community. We're an even bigger community these days! The Arts and Humanities as a discipline are under attack in the academic world. The general consensus is that it is 'not practical'. This highlights how we have begun to react against our own humanity and our own expression. This attitude needs to change now. For centuries, the human experience was commented on in a safe way through story and song. The communal artistic event affected the individual privately. They experienced their own emotions individually, but with the comfort of being surrounded by their fellow men and women. This sort of experience has diminished greatly; I think it's time for a revival. Instead of looking up to leaders (political, religious, or whatever), we should look both inwards and at each other to help us get over the trauma of the dark hours in our history. Art in its many forms is one safe approach for us to take in dealing with dark and hidden aspects of ourselves both individually and as a community.

Dé hAoine 9 Meán Fómhair 2011

Fire in Termonfeckin!

Having returned home from a delectable dinner out, myself and the parents settled in for a quiet Friday night in front of Only Fools and Horses. Though my chicken fajitas were a explosion of flavour, my tongue was now beginning to feel like sandpaper; as I went out to the kitchen to grab a glass of water, my phone began to ring. This was around 21:50, so I wasn't expecting to hear from anyone. It was our neighbour, who had been awoken by flashing blue lights and the frantics of a fireman using some of our estate's water. I ran upstairs, to find flame-lit smoke billowing from behind the houses facing us, and reflections of flames leaping in the window of our neighbours across from us. The fire appears to be still fiesty as I type.

Being the inquisitive person that I am, I decided to go out and investigate, putting on a jumper and grabbing a camera as I went. I heard the excited voices of young f'llas as I approached the scene, and beheld a gang on them sitting on a wall and taking it all in. The fire brigade were parked at the side of the road, with one of the fire officers guiding any approaching cars around the engine with a beacon. I crossed over the road to get a closer look, and took a few shots. I got talking to a man who lives around the corner, out with his two sons to see what was happening. According to him, the fire had been much higher. He had been putting the lads to bed, when he looked out the window and saw the flames. Apparently, the fire brigade had taken an hour to get here, and had come from Dunleer, which is 14km and around 20 minutes away from us here... Hmm, not impressed. We do have a fire brigade in Drogheda, which is much closer... No sign of the Gardaí.

Dé Máirt 6 Meán Fómhair 2011

Lisa Hannigan :: Knots

'Knots' le feiceáil anois ar chainéal de chuig Lisa Hannigan ar You Tube

Amhrán is déanaí le Lisa Hannigan óna halbam nua Passenger a bheas á eisiúint i Meiriceá Thuaidh ar an 20ú Meán Fómhair, agus in Éirinn ar an 21ú lá de Dheireadh Fómhair. (Caithfidh mé a admháil gur chuir sin as dom, go raibh sé ag teacht amach i Meiriceá i dtosach, ach tá ag éirí go maith léi i Meiriceá i gcomparáid le hÉirinn, de réir cosúlachta!)

Tá blas Meiriceánach tar éis teacht ar a cuid ceoil, ceart go leor, mar is léir leis an amhrán ‘gormacha’ seo. An bhfuilim liom fhéin nuair a mheasaim go bhfuil tionchar Nick Drake le blas san amhrán seo?

Scannánaíodh an físeán seo ar bhád, a chuireann in iúl go bhfuil Lisa ag leanacht le híomhá leitheadúil na farraige a bhí ar a halbam Sea Sew.

Tá stíl na mná aoibhne seo ag dul ó neart go neart - agus cúis bhróid dom a rá go bhfuil gúna agam cosúil lena ceann sa bhfíseán seo. :P

Dé Luain 22 Lúnasa 2011

An fhírinne faoi mo leaba

I wept when I opened my Yeats box, and found Somhairle MacGill-Eain there. The first thing that struck me was the Gàidhlig: Chan eil anns a' bhròn... 

I had been looking for a notebook of mine that I had used while doing some research on Yeats' rituals for his Castle of Heroes in the National Library of Ireland (while I was still in the first year of my undergrad), because I remember him using Irish words as he felt that they had more power. I rifled through my box of Yeatsian accumulations, and was delighted to find photocopies of essays on bards composing poetry in the dark, and then Somhairle. I was taken aback because I was shocked to have come across Somhairle already put in relation to Yeats, and at such an early stage. I wondered how it had gotten into the box. Then I found an email just after it in the pile of papers, which was around February 2009. And it hit me: my first encounter with Somhairle and Gàidhlig was just after the death of a mentor. The strange sense of fate and unseen messengers who led me to open this box at such a tense time in my life came over me, and I burst into tears. This trigger was badly needed.

I've been feeling so lost, with not having a job and not being sure about my next academic pursuit, my PhD. Without giving too much away, if I'm to do my PhD where I want to, I will have to do it through English. While there is a strong enough Irish-language department in the school, I doubt that there is a Scottish Gaelic body. The loves of my life are Yeats, Somhairle, Gaeilge, Gàidhlig and, obviously, poetry. This box of academic accumulations, which I began in 2006, contained the answer to my recent bewildered questions. The younger me had more sense, though I didn't realise it at the time. I laugh when I think of people saying that the answer is usually under your nose - my answer was under the head of my bed! If I had any doubts, they've been chased away by the shades of these two men. 

I've been getting myself into a knot over the Irish language, creating problems in my own head out of my own insecurities. Love and passion are the only things of importance in living. Both Yeats and Somhairle would agree with this, and confirm the fact in their poetry. I've been too distracted by nonsense. Whatever happens with the PhD, I'm going to start my research, keep building up my Gaeilge and continue learning Gàidhlig. No longer will I worry about anyone else; this Pan-Celtic woman (as someone recently called me) is going to keep her head down and do her own bit.

Díreach chun a bheith soiléir... (Rant)

Tá sé deacair go leor gur cainteoir mionteanga mé, ach caithfidh mé a rá go bhfuil sé níos deacra dom aríst nuair atáim go síoraí do mo chosaint fhéin roimh chainteoirí Gaeilge eile. Fuckaigí off agus fág liom fhéin mé!

  1. Ní raibh an t-ádh orm a bheith tógtha leis an nGaeilge mórthimpeall orm
  2. Ní raibh an deis agam freastal ar Ghaelscoil mar gheall air sin
  3. Nílim mar chuid de clique ar bith, rud atá chomh coitianta sin i saol na Gaeilge
  4. Níor fhreastal mé ar chúrsa Gaeltachta agus mé ar scoil
  5. Níl mórán deise agam an Ghaeilge a labhairt, seachas le mo chairde ag a bhfuil Gaeilge acu
bú hú, ceart go leor. Nílim ag gearán, ach díreach ag cur in iúl céard as a dtáinig mé agus cé chomh fada is a tháinig mé go nuige seo. Bhí orm AN-CHUID OIBRE a chur isteach chun a bheith ag an bpointe seo.) ANOIS:

  1. Bhí an t-ádh orm múinteoirí spreagúla Gaeilge a bheith agam ar meánscoil
  2. Le fáth eicínt bhí mo chroí istigh sa nGaeilge i gcónaí, cé nach raibh líofacht agam
  3. Chuir mé an-chuid oibre isteach agus d'fhoghlaim mé an Ghaeilge (i gceart) as mo stuaim fhéin nuair a shroich mé UCD 
  4. Bainim leas aisti agus mé le mo chairde, ag scríobh, nuair a chasaim ar Ghaeilgeoirí fánacha cairdiúla, agus ag na hamantaí sin a bhfuilim ag teagasc
  5. Cé nach bhfuil canúint nó 'blas' ar leith agam (mar gheall ar easpa taithí sa nGaeltacht), déanaim mo dhícheall Gaeilge Chonamara a labhairt, measctha le mo bhlas Bleá Cliathach féin

Beidh orm a thuilleadh oibre a dhéanamh chun líofacht líofa (tuigeann sibh mé!) a bhaint amach. Beidh mé ag foghlaim na teanga don lá sin a bhfaighidh mé bás. (Go raibh blianta fada amach romham!) gramadach na teanga agus saibhreas/cruinneas teanga tábhachtach dom. Tá ard-mheas agam do na nathanna nádúrtha Gaelaigh, don Ghaeilge atá caite anois agus do na rudaí atá ag titim as an teanga, óir go ndearna mé an tSean-Ghaeilge agus an Ghaeilge Chlasaiceach. Is annamh go leor go mbainim leas as focla spraíúla mar 'dáiríously' agus 'dochreideable' (tug faoi deara go leanann siad leis an gcóras litrithe, 'caol le caol, leathan le leathan'!) Níl ach spraoi atá iontu - agus níl siad in úsáid ag Gaeilgeoirí lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht amháin.

Dé Máirt 16 Lúnasa 2011

Dhá dhream atá scoilte ag an teanga chéanna

Táim ag scríobh an bhlag seo th'éis dom dá halt a léamh i nGaelscéal, an buncheann ag Colm Ó Broin agus freagra scríofa ag cara maith liom, Scott de Buitléir. Tá siad beirt ag plé le ceist na hathbheochana Gaeilge, agus an fhadhb atá againn leis na canúintí agus le foghraíocht na teanga. Seo fearann contúirteach, agus conspóideach! Nílim ach chun cúpla smaoineamh agus mo thuairimí fhéin a roinnt ar an ábhar seo.

Ní dóigh liom go mbeidh an Ghaeilge ina príomhtheanga sa tír seo go deo, ar an drochuair. Caithfidh muid a bheith réalaíoch faoin bhfiric sin. Sin ráite, tá seans ann go mbeidh sí ina mionteanga bheo bhríomhar, agus ceapaim go bhfuil sin le feiceáil anois, ar bhealaí. Beidh orainn a thuilleadh iarrachtaí a dhéanamh chun í a chur chun cinn i gceart, agus buailfidh muid le constaicí gan amhras (.i. mar gheall ar an gcúlú eacnamaíochta seo, le Gaeilgeoirí ag dul ar imirce agus rialtas gan spéis sa teanga nach bhfuil chun airgead a thabhairt don chúis.)

An rud a chuireann faitíos go mór mór orm ná an deighilt seo atá rí-shoiléir i measc lucht na Gaeilge. Is cuimhin liom ráiteas ag Yeats faoi Éirinn, rud eicínt mar "an tír chomh beag sin, ach an iomarca fuatha inti"! Tá an ceart aige! Is mionphobal é pobal na Gaeilge, agus ba chóir go mbeidh muid aontaithe agus ag réiteach lena chéile! Ach níl sin mar atá, faraor. Braithimse i mo shaol é, caithfidh mé a admháil, sa méid is nach mbím ar mo chompord i measc mhuintir na Gaeltachta. (Tá sé go dona a rá, ach táim níos compordaí agus mé ag caint le Gaeilgeoirí Meiriceánacha!) Bíonn faitíos orm go ndéanfaidh mé botún, agus nach mbeidh mé in ann duine Gaeltachta a thuiscint. Bíonn faitíos orm a bheith sa nGaeltacht, óir nach cuid den phobal mé. Is outsider mé. Ar an ollscoil, cuireadh béim ar theanga, stair agus chultúr saibhir na Gaeltachta. Agus cuireann sin an-bhrú ar an nGaeilgeoir uirbeach, agus tugann sé coimpléasc dó a chuireann isteach ar a chumas teanga. Tá an grá céanna (nó b'fheidir níos mó, i gcásanna áirithe!) ag lucht Ghaeilge na gcathracha don teanga agus don chultúr, ach beidh muid lasmuigh den scéal go deo. Beidh muid íochtarach ó thaobh na Gaeilge dhe go choíche. Tá muid chomh éagsúil óna chéile. Is pobal réasúnta dúnta í an Ghaeltacht, óir go bhfuil siad ar a gcosaint fhéin, is cosúil. Táimse in ann sin a thuiscint, gan amhras. Tá siad chomh iargúlta sin, agus is cuma leis an rialtas atá suite i mBleá Cliath. Is coimeádaithe an traidisiúin iad muintir na Gaeltachta, agus tá cuid againn sna cathracha ag iarraidh ár gcultúr a fháil ar ais dúinn fhéin. Feictear dom, áfach, nach bhfuil an Ghaeltacht réidh leis an eolas rúndiamhair seo a roinnt linn. Ach nach Éireannaigh muidne freisin? Nach Gaeil muid freisin, óir go bhfuil an teanga againn? Ach an bhfuil? Agus an bhfuil an teanga againn i ndáiríre, fiú?? Is fuath liom an pholaitíocht a bhaineann leis an teanga! Actually, tá faitíos orm leis seo a rá, ach feictear dom go bhfuil lucht na Gaeltachta níos oscailte roimh dhaoine ó thíortha eile ag teacht isteach chun an teanga a fhoghlaim. Ní dóigh liom gur rud Gaelach sin, ach rud Éireannach sa méid is nach mbaineann sé leis an nGaeilge amháin...

Is Gaeilgeoir Bhleá Cliathach mé, agus tá difear idir an cur amach atá agam ar an teanga ná mar a bheadh ag duine as an nGaeltacht. Dá bhrí sin, ní bheidh an teanga céanna againn. I dtosach, d'fhoghlaim mé an teanga, níl sí agam ó dhúchas, agus ní labhraíonn éinne de mo mhuintir í. Bhí múinteoirí scoile agam as Ciarraí, ach roghnaigh mé Gaeilge Chonamara nuair a shroich mé an ollscoil óir go raibh mo dhaideo as Gaillimh. Mar sin, tá mo chuid foghraíochta measca; caithfidh mé a bheith comhfhiosach leis an mbealach a fhoghraím mo chuid focla. Agus tú i mbun comhrá nádúrtha, áfach, imíonn sin as an bhfuinneog! Tá tú ag triail lena bheith liofa, chun tú fhéin a chur in iúl. Freisin, nílim chun mo réimse focla a leathnú de réir na canúna atá roghnaithe agam - bainim leas as an bhfrás "go hainnis" nuair a bhíonn rud eicínt really go dona. Thaitníonn an fhuaim liom chun an bhrí a chur in iúl! Go hainnis! Táimse fós ag iarraidh an chanúint Chonnachta a bheith agam, ach le mo bhlas Bhleá Cliathach fhéin a choimeád - nílim chun a bheith 'bréag' dom fhéin, sin m' fhéiniúlacht. Éiríonn rudaí níos casta fós: táim i mo chónaí i gcontae Lú anois, agus tá nasc anseo le Gaeilge Uladh. Freisin, óir go bhfuilim ag foghlaim na Gàidhlige, tháinig an smaoineamh chugam gur chóir dom aistriú go Gaeilge Uladh. Ach táim ag leanacht le Gaeilge Chonnachta mar gheall ar mo dhaideo. Sin mo stair pearsanta.

Dé hAoine 12 Lúnasa 2011

Translations

The Yeats Summer School was as inspiring as ever this year, not least because I took part in my first poetry workshop with Peter McDonald. The first step into the workshop was to send some of my poems to Peter via the Yeats Society in Sligo, and I was faced with the dilemma of providing translations for my poems written originally as Gaeilge. I decided not to think too much about it or I'd drive myself mad, so I read and translated my poems fairly swiftly and sent them off. The poems in question are 'Caoimhín Naofa agus an Chéirseach' and 'Béaldath'.

I wasn't sure how we would approach the reading of my poems in an English-language medium workshop, but as Peter is well-acquainted with the question of translation himself, there was little discomfort! I read the poems in Irish, and he read the translations in English. It must be said that Peter read them in such a way as to make them sound pretty amazing! 'Caoimhín Naofa agus an Chéirseach' didn't present us with any trouble in its English guise, though the words céirseach, glinn, lomán ('hen blackbird', silvery-noted [of voice], 'bare, stripped branch') to me lost their singular strength when they required more than one word to be translated. (Also the double-meaning of the word comaoin, but I didn't go into that at the time.) This doesn't seem to have been a problem in Peter's or anyone else's eyes. However, we did come across a puzzle in 'Béaldath'. Firstly with reference to 'youth' in the phrase 'teas na n-óg', which I had translated at the time as 'the heat of youth' (when really it's 'the heat of the young'). 'Youth' as a concept in English has different connotations, of which I'm not sure that I'm aware. [Ooh, clásal coibhneasta deas as Béarla ansin!] In Irish, I think the connotations of Tír na nÓg will always come to mind when you hear the genitive na n-óg! Or maybe that's just me? I like it, anyway. The real sticky issue we encountered was with the word smál, in the line 'ach d'fhág tú smál orm'. I had translated this as 'but you left a stain on me', with a note under the poem explaining the connotation of 'sin' in the Gaeilge, i.e. Muire gan Smál. Peter informed us that Mary was referred to as 'Mary without Spot' in Medieval English texts. (This I didn't know, even though I studied Medieval English.) 'Stain' as a word just didn't seem to work though, and this was our dilemma. I had to go away and think about it. I looked up a thesaurus for the word 'stain' - 'mark', 'blemish', 'blotch', 'spot', 'smear', 'soil', 'smudge'. Hmm, we already had 'smear'. 'Mark'? I'm still uncertain. But out of them all, 'mark' is the best of a bad lot. The complexity of the Irish word can't work in English. What to do??

Déardaoin 14 Iúil 2011

The Bard, the Misty Island, and the Gàidhlig

Somhairle MacGill-Eain, © Cailean MacIll-Eain

I couldn't miss out on this, with me being one of Somhairle MacGill-Eain's biggest fans. The conference Ainmeil Thar Cheudan (translated as "famous through the centuries"), organised by the Gaelic college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and the University of the West of Scotland, was a centenary celebration of the bard's birth in 1911, fittingly set against the backdrop of Eilean a' Cheò, an t-Eilean Sgitheanach (the Isle of Skye). The centenary comes at an apt time in the world of Gàidhlig and Gaelic studies, as this seems to be a crucial time to work for and set an agenda for the Scottish Gaelic language and culture, as we are trying to do currently in Ireland for Gaeilge. There seems to be a rising spirit amongst the Scots for the promotion and preservation of Gaelic culture, and this was apparent to me through the course of the conference. This was no doubt spurred also by the recent overwhelming success of the SNP in the elections, arousing a sense of national pride in the Scots.

To put this fervent spirit into a broader context, only recently BBC Alba was made available on Freeview in the UK, and I was able to catch some of it when I stayed with my relatives in Glasgow after the conference. At the start of the year, there was a campaign to get the Gaelic band from Leòdhas (Lewis), Mànran, to the top of the charts on iTunes with their catchy song in Gàidhlig, 'Làtha Math' ('A Good Day'). Mozilla Firefox and its email client Thunderbird is now available in Gàidhlig, as is Open Office. Linguist Michael Bauer has contributed to these translations of modern technology, while also working on the Gàidhlig online dictionaries Dwelly-d and Am Faclair Beag. He has created a very useful web page, Akerbeltz, and recently published a book, Blas na Gàidhlig, to aid learners and Gàidhlig speakers alike with a guide to finely-tuned pronunciation of the language and explanations of grammar. (Might I also add that he has an unusual knack for making these subjects very approachable for everyone!) There is a definite push for Gaelic Medium Education, and Bòrd na Gàidhlig is offering funding for the training of Gaelic teachers. These efforts seem to be gathering momentum this year, and I wonder if this is more than a coincidence; perhaps the guiding spirit of Somhairle is still in our midst.

Dé Sathairn 2 Iúil 2011

Summer Wine

Slow tears on green glass
A bottle of Chardonnay
Nearing its life's end



© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2011

Dé Máirt 28 Meitheamh 2011

Haikiú - Gaoth

oíche chiúin anocht
agus mé ag éisteacht;
an ghaoth ag athrú


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2011

W.B. Yeats - Daire Mhór na Filíochta


W.B. Yeats in New York in the early '20s
[Scríofa 13 Meitheamh 2011]
Rugadh Yeats ar an lá seo sa mbliain 1865. Breithlá sona, a Gheataigh! :)

Tá ‘fhios ag mo chairde uilig go bhfuil ról tábhachtach ag Yeats i mo shaol - is mór an tionchar atá aige orm, go háirid ó thaobh mo chuid scríbhneoireachta dhe. Eiseamláir amach is amach é dom. Tháinig mé air don chéad uair nuair a cheannaigh mé leabhar dá chuid, cnuasach dá dhánta roghnaithe, sa siopa leabhar Chapters nuair a bhí siad suite ar Shráid na Mainistreach. Níl ‘fhios agam cén fáth a bhraith mé tarraingthe dá shaothar, ach is cosúil gur thaitin na híomhánna a bhí á léiriú ós comhair shúil m’intinne nuair a léigh mé cúpla dán sa siopa roimh an cnuasach a cheannach. Bhí draíocht ag baint lena chuid focla… Tá sé deacair dhom a mhíniú, ach bhí sé ar nós go raibh láimh dhíchollaithe ag cur greama orm as na bileoga! Bhraith mé an rud ceannann céanna nuair a chuaigh mé i dtaithí ar litríocht na Gaeilge. Anamacha a bhí marbh le fada ag caint liom, dom’ impí, agus bhraith mé coibhneas nó aifinideacht leo… Pé scéal é. Ansin, chas mé ar Yeats aríst nuair a rinne muid staidéar ar a chuid filíochta le haghaidh na hArdteiste, agus b’shin an uair a thosaigh an oibseisiún seo i gceart! Bhí spéis ag Yeats sa ndraíocht agus san osnádúr, agus measaim gur seo an príomh-rud a tharraing mé dá shaothar. Agus mé i mo dhéagóir, bhí sórt spreagadh nádúrtha ionam chun na págántachta; d’aimsigh mé mo chreideamh ionam fhéin, agus as sin amach deimhníodh mo fhealsúnach sa domhan mórthimpeall orm trí smaointeoireacht agus fealsúnach daoine eile. Ach ba Yeats an chéad duine a aontaigh liom beagnach go huile ‘s go hiomlán.

Léigh mé chuile leabhar ar Yeats a raibheas in ann a aimsiú chun a thuilleadh eolais a fháil, ag lorg mé fhéin oiread agus mé ag iarraidh dul in aithne ar Yeats féin! Cuireadh tús le mo shaol acadúil i gceart nuair a fhreastal mé ar an Scoil Samhradh Yeats i Sligeach sa mbliain 2006, th’éis dhom m’Ardteist a chríochnú. D’fhill mé ar ais chuile bhliain, ar nós fáinleoige. (Chaill mé amach ar an scoil anuraidh, óir go raibheas i mbun mo thráchtais Mháistreachta.)

An Ghrian

Boladh gainimh 's salainne
siosarnach na farraige,
Scréach linbh seachas faoileán.

2 Meitheamh


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2011

Ted Hughes - “Imagine what you are writing about. See it and live it.”


Ted Hughes
I’m currently reading Ted Hughes’ Poetry in the Making, a collection of the talks that he wrote for and read on the BBC series “Listening and Writing”, which was directed towards an audience of schoolchildren (and no doubt the big children who are writers and poets!).

I LOVE Ted Hughes’ poetry, because he has think knack of capturing the sensuality of the subject in his words, and his images are always striking. He’s on a par with the Old Irish nature poets with his gift for portraying landscapes, animals, birds and the elements. It’s pretty cool of him to intimate his secret to poetlets/poetlings through his talk entitled “Capturing Animals”. I’m going to share a lengthly quote from this chapter in the book:

How can a poem, for instance, about a walk in the rain, be like an animal? Well, perhaps it cannot look much like a giraffe or an emu or an octopus, or anything you might find in a menagerie. It is better to call it an assembly of living parts moved by a single spirit. The living parts are the words, the images, the rhythms. The spirit is the life which inhabits them when they all work together. It is impossible to say which comes first, parts or spirit. But if any of the parts are dead… if any of the words, or images or rhythms do not jump to life as you read them… then the creature is going to be maimed and the spirit sickly. So, as a poet, you have to make sure that all those parts over which you have control, the words and rhythms and images, are alive.

Redstarts - living ‘wholly and enviably to themselves’


John Andrew Wright

I was watching BBC’s Springwatch last week, and Chris Packham read an extract written by ornithologist John Buxton in 1943 while he was a prisoner in a war camp in Bavaria. Apparently much of what we know about Redstarts (pictured) has been gained from this man’s observations. I was really struck by the extract, and thought I’d share it.
‘One of the chief joys of watching these birds in prison was that they inhabited another world than I. They lived wholly and enviably to themselves unconcerned in our fatuous politics, without the limitations imposed all about us by our knowledge. They lived only in the moment, without foresight and with memory only of things of immediate practical concern to them.’
Imagine being in prison, and living your life through the birds you see flying free out of your window? It would keep me sane, I can tell you. I often do it from my own bedroom window! I can’t explain why I love birds so much, but I would say it is because they seem to have this sort of philosophy as described above. Philosophy is the wrong word here, as Buxton has just said that it is in fact our ‘knowledge’ and ‘love of knowledge’ that imposes the limitations on us… Their way of life then, the way they live only for the moment, and deal with things as they happen. To take every day as it comes, and to enjoy it. To sing, to fly, to eat!

Caoimhín Naofa agus an Chéirseach

Le teacht an Charghais,
imíonn Caoimhín leis
chuig bothán caol,
leac ghlas mar leaba dó;

Glacann sé faoiseamh
ó chomhrá na ndaoine,
i bhfabhar machnaimh
i bhfochair éan 's ainmhithe.

Leabhar ina lámha,
úlla bána 'na thimpeall
ar na sailí cromtha,
siúlann an fear naofa -

Ar chiumhais na coille
a shroicheadh, stadann sé -
Ciúnas. Corp beag dubh
leagtha ar an talamh:

Lon dubh bocht, marbh.
A chlúmh lonrach fós,
gob néata buí, balbh.
Tost ar an gceol go deo.

An guth chomh glinn sin,
's é ag gairm ón tsailleach!
Bhí an lon grinnsúileach,
díograiseach mar chomharsan.

Trua ina chroí dó,
guíonn an naomh ar a shon,
a lámh mhothálach
sínte uaidh amach.

Tagann céirseach ón gcoill
chun tuirlingt ar a bhos;
baintreach úr, cumhach
i ndiaidh a céile.

Is foighneach an fear,
's caomh, go deimhin -
coinníonn sé a lámh mar sin
go ndéanann sí nead inti.

Mar lomán faoin éan
a lámh anois, go dtabharfaidh
amach an líne; is géar mór
pian na comaoine.

10 Aibreán 2011


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2011

What’s the Gaeilge for a sort of positive feeling of nostalgia?

[Originally posted here on April 3, 2011]

As I walked home to my grandparents house in Marino from town yesterday, a profound feeling came over me; it’s a feeling I get often when I return to the area. I pretty much grew up there, so obviously I have a strong connection with the place. I don’t think the term ‘nostalgia’ fits this feeling; this certain feeling is a type of happiness, a feeling that comes back from a time past. A lingering feeling from childhood, I reckon, that is prompted by something. In this case, it was the place. As I continued walking, another strange thought entered my mind - “Ba chóir go mbeadh Gaeilge á labhairt anseo…” (“Irish should be spoken here…”) I felt that the area had the same feeling that I do get from Irish-speaking areas. Strange!


But then it makes sense - I always felt that Irish is a link between me and my childhood. I only encountered Irish in school; there was no Irish at home, I didn’t attend a Gaelscoil, and I never went to the Gaeltacht. But something in the language itself prompts this same feeling of ‘home’ and ‘childhood’ in my mind. I originally picked Irish in college because I felt that I missed it from school! After finishing my Irish Leaving Cert exam, I remember walking forlornly out from the school grounds thinking “I can’t believe that I’ll never do Irish again…”, while everyone else around me was jubilant. I picked Irish in college to keep that link, which was one of childhood and identity.

As I left my grandparents house today, the view we have of the Dublin mountains was lovely and clear today, with Conamara clouds (as I call them, after the paintings of Paul Henry) above them. I love where I live now in Louth, but the mountains really prompted that keen connection with my native place. You can’t take Dublin out of the girl! And, from what I glean from my musings, I think the spirit of Gaeilge does survive in the Capital!

Breakfast Crows

Crows lift dog food
chisel it with beaks:
hammer hammer hammer
munch munch munch
caw caw caw
swift glossy flight
swoop
clink of beak on ceramic
crunchy food in clenched foot claws
hammer hammer hammer
munch munch -
squabble!
clash of wings and scrapes
swagger -
munch.


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2011

Yeats International Summer School 2011, Sligo

I’m very excited to present the brochure for this year’s Yeats International Summer School in the Land of Heart’s Desire itself, Sligo, the mythological landscape that inspired some of W.B. Yeats’ most beautiful poetry. The poet also spent his childhood here, and his family’s heritage still plays an important part of the cultural identity of the county. What better backdrop than Sligo to set the two week long Summer School, which also coincides with the annual Yeats Festival.

The iconic landscape of Sligo, with the mountains of Ben Bulben and Knocknarea, has had an immense influence on me, as much as the Summer School itself was a crucial part of my academic training, and has also led to many friendships that I hold dear.


I’m proud to say that I will not only be attending the school this year, but I will also have the honour of giving Irish language workshops to the students attending the school, who come from all over the world! I must admit that I’m still in awe to see my name on the School’s programme alongside with eminent Yeatsian scholars that I am very fortunate to call my friends!

Idir Dhá Thraidisúin (nó Trí…)

[Originally posted here on January 6th, 2011]

Something odd occured to me the other evening while I sang along to songs on my iPod - I know the words of Scottish Gaelic songs and not Irish songs! How weird is that? I set myself to learn a song in Scottish Gaelic ‘Mo Bheannachd Dhan Bhailidh Ùr’ (though I still struggle with some of the words), but I’ve never really had the same drive to learn an Irish song. I stood and lingered on this thought for a moment, and some thoughts hit me.

I think the songs are presented in a much more accessible way to modern audiences in Scotland than in Ireland. Irish traditional singing is quite purist still in the sense that it’s not really changing in order to adapt to its new context, which allowes for the old songs to be still sung in a modern world that has a much broader exposure to different styles of music.

I don’t mean that it has to change, what I mean is there should be a branch of a further new development in style while still remaining in the tradition. There are very few in Irish sean-nós who do this. Irish singers do, however, ‘water down’ their tradition to make it commercially appealing to tourists who have a misty-eyed view of Ireland. This may seem a very snobbish observation, but it’s a fact not only obvious in musical terms but in Irish culture in general. (This is not to say that the Scots don’t do the same, but we’ll come to them later.) The effect of this is that the native Irish have become repulsed by the ‘hye-diddley-eye’ made-for-export commodity that is popular Irish culture. This is only an aspect of the much broader Irish cultural collective, but this has had such a negative effect on the Irish psyche that the ‘true part’ (if you like) of our native culture has been neglected, and left to gather dust.

Irish and Scottish Gaelic Folklore Projects

[Originally posted here on November 13, 2010]

I was listening to the lovely Julie Fowlis earlier today, and I decided to Google more information about a particular song and it’s original historical context. After a few pages, I came across a website (with much celebration and glee!) that acts as an online catalogue for Scottish Gaelic folkloric material. The website is Tobar an Dualchais, and it’s a project that seeks ‘to preserve, digitise, catalogue and make available online several thousand hours of Gaelic and Scots recordings’ and to ‘ensure that Scotland’s rich oral heritage is safeguarded and made widely available for educational and personal use for future generations.’ The recordings come from the School of Scottish Studies (University of Edinburgh), BBC Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland’s Canna Collection. Something that excites me is that the database contains folklore collected by Calum MacLean during the 1950s! On the homepage, you can click on a particular area on the map of Scotland, and you’ll be brought to pages of recordings from that area. You can also search the database with the title of a song, for example, if you want. It gives you the details of the recording (title, contributor, reporter, summary, duration, location, etc), and a player (that requires Flash) allows you to listen to the recording.

I went looking for an equivalent in Ireland, and couldn’t find one, besides a few files on the UCD National Folklore Collection site. Then a contact of mine on Facebook, Risteárd Mag Uidhir, sent me the link to the Doegen Records Web Project, which is similar to Tobar an Dualchais. This project is run by the Royal Irish Academy Library in collaboration with the Digital Humanities Observatory. It follows a similar format, with recordings made during the years 1928-31, and ‘includes recordings from many regions of Ireland where traditional Irish dialects have disappeared since the time the recordings were made’, one of which is the County Louth dialect, which has Ulster and Gàidhlig sounds, as far as I can hear. A lot of counties haven’t been covered, unfortunately, which I don’t think is down to lack of material that could have been found.

Midnight Music - Three Haiku

1 Forte
a brutal wind blows
scattered autumn leaves:
dissipated emotions.

2 Glissando
stripping off my clothes
I add words to naked page;
night-time transaction.

3 Crescendo
orchestral winds play
a brisk late-night symphony;
through the vent, a flute.


© Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe 2010

Descriptive writing in prose - a bit of a rant

[Originally posted here on October 25, 2010]

I’m reading A.S. Byatt’s Possession at the moment, and I must say that I have mixed feelings about it. There are instances of brilliance in it, mainly when it concerns the characters themselves: her description of Roland Michell photocopying the stolen letter drafts brought a smile to my face as it described exactly my experiences as a chronic-photocopier during my time in UCD Library. I can empathise greatly with Maud Bailey as a character, and find that my attention levels heighten when she enters the narrative. Byatt’s use of folkloric plotline formulae create enjoyable stories written by Christabel LaMotte, but the poetry (so far and in my opinion) is awful. I do get the impression that Randolph Henry Ash is not supposed to me a great poet, but rather an obscure literary figure adopted by modern postgraduates in order for them to find a topic that hasn’t been picked to bits, so perhaps Byatt writes his poems in the most boring and brain-numbing manner to reflect his character (and Victorian time-period).


The problem that I have with Byatt is her banal descriptions, that make me feel impatient as a reader as they take away from the flow of the narrative. Here’s an example:
The valleys are deep and narrow, some wooded, some grassy, some ploughed. (Byatt, Possession, 68)
I may not be enrolled in a literary course in university anymore, but the literary critic in me is still very much switched on. This, for me, is an insipid description that is not necessary. As far as I am concerned, a modern writer should describe things of distinction distinctively. If they’re not distinctive, they don’t need description (unless, perhaps, to create the bored affect of banality from the position of a particular character). And if they’re worth describing, give them language worth writing (and worth reading)! If what you’re describing is an inanimate object, give it life, and characteristics; give it meaning in the context of what you’re trying to impress upon the reader.

Scríbhneoireacht Aerach


[Scríofa ó bhunús anseo 26ú d' Iúil, 2010 - tá spéis agam sa dtionscadal fós!]

Bhí mé ag caint le cara liom le déanaí faoi thionscadal atá ar m’intinn - táim ag smaoineamh ar chnuasach litríochta a chur le chéile, le gearrscéalta/prós, filíocht agus píosaí neamhfhicseanúla (as Gaeilge nó Gàidhlig) scríofa ag scríbhneoirí aeracha.

Táim ag iarraidh an t-eispéireas aerach a roinnt trí mheán na Gaeilge/Gàidhlige - ábhar aerach a bheas i bpíosaí scríbhneoireachta an chnuasaigh, faoi thaithí dhaoine LADT, cuirim i gcás an taithí atá acu ar an ‘suíomh’, nó fadhbanna a bhuaileann siad leo, agus dánta grá aeracha/leispiacha. Nílim ag caint faoi rudaí ró-phearsanta, ach saothair chruthaitheacha a thagann as fíor thaithí dhaoine LADT na hÉireann/na hAlban. Is féidir le daoine d’aoiseanna éagsúla agus daoine as ceantair éagsúla ar fud na tíre (anseo agus in Albain) páirt a ghlacadh. Nó fiú daoine le Gaeilge/Gàidhlig atá thar lear. B’aoibhinn liom é dá mbeadh scríbhneoirí atá ina gcónaí faoin tuatha, nó sa Ghaeltacht fiú amháin, in ann a dtaithí a roinnt faoi shaol an duine aeraigh lasmuigh de na cathracha. Thabharfadh an cnuasach deis do dhaoine a nguthanna a úsáid trí mheán na litríochta chun a bheith bródúil astu.

Nílim ag iarraidh a bheith ‘polaitiúil’ leis an gcnuasach seo, ach ag iarraidh an Ghaeilge agus an Ghàidhlig a chur chun cinn agus lucht na Gaeilge agus na Gàidhlige a tharraingt le chéile. Fuair mé inspioráid mhór as Cuairt na bhFilí Albanacha, a raibh eagraithe ag Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge - bhí filíocht den chéad scoth ann ag scríobh sa dá theanga. Tionscadal deas a bheas ann don lucht LADT chun a n-eispéireas a roinnt le pobal na Gaeilge, agus chun feasacht a fheabhsú ar an saol LADT. Tugann litríocht LADT tacaíocht do dhaoine atá ag streachailt lena gcuid gnéasachta, agus braitheann daoine níos compordaí iontu féin nuair a dtuigeann siad nach bhfuil siad ina n-aonair. Chomh maith leis sin, spreagfadh an cnuasach scríbhneoirí nua chun litríocht níos nua-aimseartha a chruthú a bheadh oiriúnach dár linne!

Má tá spéis ag scríbhneoirí páirt a ghlacadh, seol r-phost chugam ag alisonnidhorchaidhe@gmail.com

‘Triquetra Table’ by Design Onion

‘Triquetra Table’, a hall table designed by Ronán Lowery for Design Onion epitomises the idea of an Irish design, that could be called Gaelic or Celtic while at the same time embodying modern style. In a post-colonial country where ‘true’ or ‘pure’ identity is hotly debated, I would argue for the adaptation of  simple traits in our ancestors’ design and style, to be recreated into something that is relevant to today’s culture and the competitive design market. This is exactly what Lowery has done in his creation of this piece, as he explains himself:
The inspiration for this hall table came from the Celtic “triquetra” symbol. It is considered to represent the three domains of earth according to Celtic legend - earth, sea and sky as well as the triplicities of mind, body and soul.*
Lowery utilises one common symbol from the Celtic style to create something functional and visually striking; the triquetra symbol is dragged from the vellum pages of medieval manuscripts and tired clichéd usage in popular culture to become something edgy and elegant all at once. The wood has a two-toned effect, with walnut rails edging around ash legs that are laquered to finish. The table top is glass that is fixed to the wooden legs with brushed stainless steel pins. Lowery combines his love of nature and fascination for geometric shapes in his designs, which creates ‘smooth flowing furniture but with a very ordered look.’* Added to this is his sensitivity to his clients, aspiring to have their personality, taste and needs reflected in his work. He works on a commission basis for Design Onion, based in Co. Armagh, and assures that the finished piece will be the result of an intimate collaboration between himself and the client.

Design Onion was founded in 2007 by Lowery and fellow furniture designer Eric O’Donnell, who both studied Furniture Design and Manufacture in Letterfrack furniture college. Though O’Donnell has since taken a step back from this business venture in order to pursue other projects, this video featured on You Tube offers an insight into how a design piece is conceptualised and created, keeping in with the theme of an Irish design style using traditional methods in the