Friday 20 April 2018

O Direain - a craggy giant of Aran, and giant of Irish language poetry

Ahead of the 30th anniversary of his death, Mairtin O Direain is remembered by Declan Collinge

The poet Mairtin O Direain
The poet Mairtin O Direain

Declan Collinge

During the mid-1960s, while studying for my Inter Cert, there were many poems on the Irish course, most of which I found uninspiring. One short lyric poem, however, resonated: this was An tEarrach Thiar, or Spring in the West, a series of vignettes of Aran long ago.

Each verse described a particular activity: a man turning over soil, women harvesting seaweed, their red petticoats tucked up, a currach, brimming with fish, coming ashore.

The poet in question was Mairtin O Direain - and what was remarkable at that time was that he was still alive while most of our prescribed poets, both on the English and Irish course, were long dead.

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