caoineadh airt ui laoghaire love

caoineadh airt ui laoghaire


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  • Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire or the Lament for Art Ó Laoghaire is an Irish keen, or dirge written by his wife Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill. The late Eighteenth century epic poem is one of the greatest love poems of the Irish Language. Eibhlín composed it capturing the life and tragic death of her husband Art on May 4, 1773.

    It details the murder at Carraig an Ime, County Cork, of Art, at the hands of Abraham Morris, and the aftermath. It is one of the key texts in the Irish oral literature corpus. The poem was composed ex tempore and follows the rhythmic and societal conventions associated with keening and the traditional Irish wake respectively.

    The killing of Art O' Laoghaire has its origin in one of the Penal Laws. Under the law, an Irish Catholic was forbidden to own a horse worth more than five pounds. If offered that sum for a horse of his by a Protestant, he would have to accept. O' Laoghaire refused such an offer and lost his life as a result.

    An excerpt:

    My steadfast friend!

    I didn't credit your death

    till your horse came home

    and her reins on the ground,

    your heart's blood on her back

    to the polished saddle

    where you sat - where you stood....

    I gave a leap to the door,

    a second leap to the gate

    and a third on your horse.

    I clapped my hands quickly

    and started mad running

    as hard as I could,

    to find you there dead

    by a low furze-bush

    with no Pope or bishop

    or clergy or priest

    to read a psalm over you

    but a spent old woman

    who spread her cloak corner

    where your blood streamed from you,

    and I didn't stop to clean it

    but drank it from my palms.

    My steadfast love!

    Arise, stand up

    and come with myself

    and I'll have cattle slaughtered

    and call fine company

    and hurry up the music

    and make you up a bed

    with bright sheets upon it

    and fine speckled quilts

    to bring you out in a sweat

    where the cold has caught you.

    full text in Irish and in English

    April 19, 2008