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A Christmas Poem in Irish

irish literature poems in irish

'Coinnle ar Lasadh' is a Christmas poem in the Irish language by the great Aran Island poet, Máirtín Ó Direáin (1910-1988). It's a short simple poem describing the tradition on the Aran Islands of lighting twelve candles on the 5th of January, the eve of the 12th day of Christmas.


Coinnle Geala / Bright Candles

'Coinnle ar Lasadh' (Lighted Candles) is the first poem in Ó Direáin's first poetry collection 'Coinnle Geala', (Bright Candles), which was published in 1942.


Oíche Chinn an Dá Lá Dhéag, 1939

The poem was written a few years earlier, however, in 1939; on Oíche Chinn an Dá Lá Dhéag.

An Dá Lá Dhéag / The Twelve Days

'An Dá Lá Dhéag' refers to the Twelve Days of Christmas which end on January 6th; and 'Oíche Chinn' is the evening before the end of the twelve days: January 5th.


Do mo mháthair / for my mother

Ó Direáin dedicated this poem to his mother. Ó Direáin started working for the civil service in Dublin in 1938; and it's very likely he was already back to work in his Dublin office, perhaps after spending Christmas on the island, when he wrote this poem. In the poem he looks back with gentle fondness on his memory of the lighted candles; and imagines his mother lighting the twelve candles on that particular evening in 1939. As he pictures this he bestows his blessings on her.


Aran as inspiration

Images from his childhood on the Aran islands are very common in Ó Direáin's poetry; and this poem is no exception. The image of twelve lighted candles in all of the homes across the island on January 5th must have been a beautiful and peaceful sight.

Have a listen to two more of Ó Direáin's best known poems:

An tEarrach Thiar

Fear Lasta Lampaí


Learn Irish Through Poetry

Ó Direáin is one of the best known modern day poets in the Irish language, and he features on our Learn Irish Through Poetry course, along with fellow poets Seán Ó Riordáin and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. The Learn Irish Through Poetry course is a great way to immerse yourself in some beautiful poems in the Irish language, while also learning Irish at the same time. It's a beautiful way to learn Irish and surely one of the best ways to learn Irish while listening to great Irish language poetry.

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