An Craiceann agus a Luach le hEithne Ní Ghallchobhair: LÉIRMHEAS le Joe Ó Ceallaigh

Foilsithe ag Arlen House


Mí nó dhó ó shin scríobh mé faoin úrscéal véarsaíochta. Seo úrscéal ina bhfuil scéal iomlán inste dúinn i bhfoirm véarsaíochta nó filíochta. An mhí seo déanfaidh mé cur síos ar leabhar eile atá cumtha sa stíl chéanna. Sa chás seo is leabhar atá scríofa ag an Chonallach Eithne Ní Ghallchobhair atá idir lámha againn. Arís, cosúil le Nóinín, seo leabhar ina chuirtear glór na mban i lár stáitse - glór cumhachtach, glór dochloíte.

Is minic a chluintear an focal ‘eipic’ - go háirithe an leagan Béarla - ach ní bhíonn baint ag an úsáid seo leis an bhunmhíniú a bhaineann le dán fada a dhéanann cur síos ar eachtra laoich ghaisciúil. Bhí an traidisiún seo láidir i mbéaloideas na nGael agus is ón fhoinse seo a tháinig scéalta na bhFiann mar shampla. Scéal eile a bhí coitianta cois Atlantaigh ná ceann ina phósann maighdean mara fear daonna. An chéad leagan a léigh Eithne bhí sé inste ag Pádraig Ó Gallchóir agus bailithe ag Máirín Nic Grianna ina ceantar féin Ard an Rátha. Níl ach thart fá fiche abairt sa leagan sin ach ón bhunábhar dlúth seo cruthaíonn an t-údar saothar úr atá draíochtúil, fileata agus dílis do nósanna liricí ár sinsear.


Caithfidh mé trácht a dhéanamh ar theanga an leabhair. Nuair a léitear filíocht, téann fuaimeanna na bhfocal i bhfeidhm orainn agus sa leabhar seo, tá achan véarsa cosúil le cith ceolmhar, Conallach. Ní mór do scéal a tháinig as cnoic Thír Chonaill a bheith scríofa nó inste i gcanúint na háite agus in Eithne Ní Ghallchobhair tá scríbhneoir againn ina bhfuil an teanga seo ina máistreacht aici.


Scuabann an scéal seo faoi na tonnta go domhan eile thú. Imeoidh tú leis an sruth ceolmhar, cumhachtach agus tiocfaidh tú ar ais le léargas úr den saol seo. Léimigí isteach.


Joe Ó Ceallaigh


An Craiceann agus a Luach by Eithne Ní Ghallchobhair (published by Arlen House): REVIEW by Joe Ó Ceallaigh


A month or two ago I wrote about the verse novel. This is a novel in which the entire story is presented to us in the form of verse or poetry. This month I will describe another book composed in the same style. In this case, the book at hand has been written by Donegal native Eithne Ní Ghallchobhair. Again, similar to Nóinín, this is a book in which the female voice – a powerful, indomitable voice – takes centre stage.


The word ‘epic’ is often freely thrown around – especially in English – but this usage does not reflect the original meaning of the term, namely a lengthy poem describing the adventures of a valiant hero. Irish folklore contains many examples of this tradition, such as the stories of the Fianna. Another popular story along the Atlantic coast was one in which a mermaid marries a human being. The first version of this story that Eithne encountered was recited by Pádraig Ó Gallchóir and collected by Máirín Nic Grianna in her own homeplace of Ardara. That version only contains around twenty sentences, but from this rich source material the author creates a new work that is all at once magical, poetic and true to the lyrical customs of our ancestors.


I must comment on the language used throughout this book. When poetry is read, the sounds of the words impact upon us and in this book, every verse is like a rhythmical shower of Donegalisms. A story that comes from the hills of Donegal must be written and told in the local dialect and in Eithne Ní Ghallchobhair, we have a writer with a mastery of the local tongue.


This story whisks you away under the waves to another world. You will depart with the powerful, musical current, and you will return with a new insight into the world around us. Dive in.


Joe Ó Ceallaigh