Monday, February 05, 2018


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Aodh Ó Domhnaill died suddenly on 24 January 2018 at his home in Baile Eaglaise in Corca Dhuibhne. He was waked there over the weekend and this was followed by a funeral service and cremation at Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin.

I will comment on his life and work another time. For now I will just address the funeral service. Meanwhile a very fine appreciation appeared in the Irish language online newspaper

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Above is the day's running order as Aodh himself might have put it. I will just comment on each item briefly.

The ceremony opened with Colm Mac Séalaigh singing one of Aodh's compositions from way back entitled 1984. An inspired choice, it was written for Na hUaisle, Aodh's protest folk group, and was way ahead of its time in the context of Irish language protest songs. It draws attention to the despoiliation of the environment and though it has many great lines, my favourite is:
Ag casachtach le sláinte i mbaile na gcasán
That grenade has a lot of shrapnel in it. But then Aodh was a wordsmith and he always packed a fair bit of punch into a few words.

You can read the words below as you listen to a version from Tŷ Bach, recorded in Belfast in 1974.

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1984 - from Tŷ Bach's vinyl LP Téanam Ort

An tAthair Ó Cochláin conducted the service in mellow Gaeilge na Mumhan and paid tribute to Aodh mar is dual.

Máire Breathnach played a plaintif melody on the fiddle which she had composed in memory of her late father Walter. Lovely tone and beautifully played.

Sinéad Ní Uallacháin, who, as a member of Aisteoirí Bulfin, had interpreted Aodh's dramatic writings on stage, read a poem Aodh wrote about this two children, Mo Bheirt ar Altram. This was published in his third volume of poetry Is Araile in 1993. It is on a familiar theme of children not being the property of their parents but just on loan to them for the duration. It had a particular poigancy in the circumstances. Sinéad rendered it beautifully.

It clearly had an emotional impact on the congregation, even on those ar bheagán Gaeilge. Aodh's French nieces missed it entirely and asked me if I would do a translation. The poem is untranslatable. It has an innovative use of words, some I suspect composed by the poet himself, and there are many with multiple meanings, as befits a poem. You can read the original here and, if that still leaves you guessing, get a sense of the content from my rough translation.

Bríd Ní Ghruagáin, who I had never heard sing before, gave us a rendering of An Fhuiseog Sa Spéir which would have done the Lark itself proud.

Niall gave a very emotional, evocative and loving eulogy of his father in which he strongly reciprocated the emotions expressed by his father in the poem above.

The ceremony concluded with a rendering by Neilligh Mulligan of Mo Ghile Mear on the uileann pipes. This was most fitting as Neilligh is a fine piper and the song could be seen as a lament for an absent hero. Neilligh followed it with a lively dance tune as family and mourners filed out of the chapel.

The family wanted to end on an upbeat note and I will do the same with the picture of Aodh below.


Tribute night for Aodh in the Writers' Centre

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