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An tEarrach Thiar / Spring in the west

irish literature

Listen to the fourth and final verse of the beautiful poem An tEarrach Thiar. This is one of the most well-known poems by the Aran Islands poet, Máirtín Ó Direáin. It is impossible to listen to An tEarrach Thiar and not feel a sense of calmness, listening to the gentle beat of the oars of a currach pulling into shore on a golden gentle sea (‘ar órmhuir mhall’).

 

More relevant than ever

Ó Direáin moved from his childhood island home to live on the mainland at the age of 18. He left behind a more traditional and rural way of life, moving firstly to Galway city and then to Dublin. Many of his poems explore the conflict between urban and rural life, between the calmness of nature and the frantic life of the city. His memories of the gentle pace of life on the island, its sounds, the nature and the sea all around him provide him with a breathing space in the busy city. Given the pace of life today Ó Direáin's poetry is more relevant than ever.

 

An unlikely poet

In many ways Ó Direáin was an unlikely poet.  He was the son of a small farmer and grew up on an isolated island, on the edge of Europe, speaking a marginalised language. He received all of his schooling on the island, and only learned English in his mid-teens. He was inspired to write poetry in Irish after attending a lecture in 1938 given by the Irish language revivalist Tadhg Ó Donnchadha. In 1942, at 32 years of age, he produced his first poetry collection Coinnle Geala (Bright Candles) at his own expense. He followed this with Dánta Aniar (Poems from the west) in 1943. His early collections are all the more remarkable given that there was essentially no tradition of modern language poetry being written in Irish at the time. 

 

Learning Irish Through Poetry

Ó Direáin's poems are a wonderful way to experience the sounds and rhythms of Irish and a means to learn words and phrases related to the sea and nature. Learn more about this wonderful poet on our Learning Irish Through Poetry course and get a taste of the Aran Islands without leaving your home! (Read more about the course here).

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