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.


  1. Since life flows backwards, a journey in Mnemosia may bring its share of wisdom. Happy you found your centre back... As someone said (who might it be?): climb the stream until the fountain leap. Or as you might have put it: Kiss the mark that the past left on you and remember how its colour tastes. A lipstick admirer.

  2. Go raibh maith agaibh! Thanks for the support! :) Particularly to Anonymous for their carefully chosen and wise words.

  3. Beautiful blog post, Alison. I hope things go well with the PhD search.

    I can only recommend ploughing ahead with your research anyway, just because it is your love and what consumes you: if you have a proposal formulated in your mind and you have a passion for what you want, throw yourself into the project.

    I start a PhD in Irish and Caribbean literatures in English in January, and I'm researching and writing chapter drafts already because I know all too well the passion for a subject that you mention. If the supervisor says no to what has been written, then never mind. It's all part of the learning experience.

    Good luck with the studies and I shall keep reading your excellent bloggage.

    Go n-éirí leat, agus go raibh maith agat,