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??