Irish Medicine: Resources

Week 1 : Land – Talamh

Here I have compiled the various poems, songs and visual material from our first session together. If you have any questions please do post in the discussion area.

Many thanks for your participation on this experimental journey.

Droichead na nDeor: The Bridge of Tears – Recording of an interview with Donal Mac Polin.

Aisling Gheal : Bright Vision

I shared about how this song is part of the “Aisling“ or vision poem tradition. In these poems, Ireland appears in the form of a maiden who is awaiting her hero who will relieve her sorrows. The example below however reveals the very mortal concerns of a young man. Listening to the version of Iarla ‘O Lionaird below that, that eternal longing for a more elevated visionary promise, carried in the emotion of the song, lingers on.

Lyrics:English Translation:
Aisling gheal do shlad trím néal méA vision bright beguiled in sleep me
Is go rabhas-sa tréithlag seal im luíAs I lay feebly bereft of cheer
Is go rabhas i ngleann cois abhann im aonarIn a river valley I wandered gaily
Is go rabhas ag aeraíocht le grá mo chroíIn conversation with my true love dear
Go raibh na camthaí Gall agus GaelachThe host of foreigners and host of Gaeldom
Is claimhte géara ag uaisle an tsaolIn battle baring their sword and spear
Ag breith barr áidh is á rá le chéileAnd the word went out in loud lamentation
Go raibh clann an fhaoit anois le fáil gan mhoillThat the day of saints was now drawing near
Ba ghearr a shamhail dom gur dhearcas MaryThen soon I gazed on a fair young maiden
‘Gus gruaig a cinn léi go féar a’ fásWith shining hair falling to the ground
A folt a tíocht mar na réaltainnHer flowing tresses like stars cascading
Ag titim léise go barr a troigheFalling in waves to her ankles down
Ag siúl na drúchta de barr an fhéir glaisSweeping the dew off the meadow early
‘S is lúafar éadtrom mar do shiúladh síAnd tripping gaily with footsteps light
A dá chíoch chruinne ar a hucht go néataHer two round breasts on her bosom neatly
A grua mar chaortha, is ba gheal í a píbHer cheeks were berries and her throat was white
Do bheannaíos-sa do mo chuid i ngaelainnAnd when I greeted my love in Gaelic
Is modhail ‘s maorga do fhreagair síIn manner gracious she did reply
“A plúr na bhfear, mo shlad ná deinse“Oh flower of men, please do not take me
Mar is maighdean mé nár tháinig d’aoisI am underage and a maid foreby
Dhá dtéadh sa ghreann dúinn clann a dhéanamhIf our lovemaking conceived a baby
Is go mbéifeá séantach ins an ghníomhAnd if your blame then you should deny
Gur gearr ón mbás mé, is go bhfágainn ÉireI would leave Erin and death would face me
Im ghóist im aonar bheinn romhat id shlí”And my ghost would plague you all through your life”
Do leagas mo láimh uirthi go béasachI laid my hand on her so ever gently
Ó bhun a stays go dtí barr a troigheFrom the top of her stays to the tips of her toes
In aghaidh gach staire go ndeinfinn léi dhiIn spite of every rumor I would do it with her?
Go bpógfainn a béilín tlath arísUntil I kissed her tender lips again
Nuair a fuaras-sa dhom gur ghéill síWhen I gained what she yielded to me
Mo chroí do léim mar an éan ar chraoibhMy heart leapt like a bird on a branch
Trí lár mo smaoinimh ach gur dhúisigh néal méIn the middle of my vision, alas I awoke in sorrow
Is de chumha ina disdh siúd, ní mhairfead míOn account of my tears, I shall not live a month

Here is the recording I mentioned – the first I ever heard : sung by a young Iarla ‘O Lionáird

Ariel Views of Newgrange : Brú na Bóinne

Newgrange – Brú na Bóinne – Co. Meath

From a Dream of Aonghus Óg : Short Film with Poem by George Russel ( A.E.)

The Song of Amergin

I am a wind across the sea
I am a flood across the plain
I am the roar of the tides
I am a stag of seven fights
I am a dewdrop let fall by the sun
I am the fierceness of boars
I am a hawk, my nest on a cliff
I am a height of poetry (magical skill)
I am the most beautiful among flowers
I am the salmon of wisdomWho (but I) is both the tree and the lightning strikes it
Who is the dark secret of the dolmen not yet hewnI am the queen of every hive
I am the fire on every hill
I am the shield over every head
I am the spear of battle
I am the ninth wave of eternal return
I am the grave of every vain hopeWho knows the path of the sun, the periods of the moon
Who gathers the divisions, enthralls the sea,
sets in order the mountains. the rivers, the peoples
Am gáeth tar na bhfarraige
Am tuile os chinn maighe
Am dord na daíthbhe
Am damh seacht mbeann
Am drúchtín rotuí ó ngréin
Am an fráich torc
Am seabhac a néad i n-aill
Am ard filidheachta
Am álaine bhláithibh
Am an t-eo fisCía an crann agus an theine ag tuitim faire
Cía an dhíamhairina cloch neamh shnaidhiteAm an ríáin gach uile choirceoige
Am an theine far gach uile chnoic
Am an scíath far gach uile chinn
Am an sleagh catha
Am nómá tonnag sírthintaghaív
Am úagh gach uile dhóich dhíamaíníCía fios aige conara na gréine agus linn na éisce
Cía tionól na rinn aige, ceangladh na farraige,
cor i n-eagar na harda, na haibhne, na túatha. 

Further Reading

For Katy – Germany and Ireland1000 years of Shared History by Martin Elsasser

Island of the Setting Sun – In Search of Ireland‘s Ancient Astronomers by Anthony Murphy and Richard Moore

Week 2: Water – Uisce

Blessing for an Exile by John ‘O Donoghue ( still uploading )

From Exiles and Hermits – in Robin Flower, The Irish Tradition :

Poet Human of the 7th Century to which this song is attributed –

“The Northmen told him to praise the sea that they might know whether he possessed original poetry. So he praised the sea and he drank the while saying:

“Tempest on the great suborders!

Hear my tale, ye viking swords :

Winter smites us, wild winds crying

Set the salty billows flying,

Wind and winter, fierce marauders.

Lir‘s vast host of shouting water ( referencing Mananaan Mac Lir – God of the sea )

Comes against us charged with slaughter;

None can tell the dread and wonder

Speaking in the ocean thunder

And the tempest, thunder‘s daughter.

With the wind of east at morning

All the waves‘ wild hearts are yearning

Westward over wastes of ocean

Till they stay their eager motion

Where the setting sun is burning.

When the northern wind comes flying,

All the press of dark waves crying

Southward surge and clamour, driven

To the shining southern heaven,

Wave to wave in song replying.

When the western wind is blowing

O‘er the currents wildly flowing,

Eastward sets its nightly longing

And the waves go eastward, thronging

Far to find the sun-tree growing.

When the southern wind comes raining

Over shielded Saxons straining

Waves round Skiddy isle go pouring,

On Caladnet‘s beaches roaring,

In grey Shannon‘s mouth complaining.

Full the sea and fierce the surges,

Lovely are the ocean verges,

On the showery waters whirling

Sandy winds are swiftly swirling,

Rudders cleave the surf that urges.

Hard round Éire‘s cliffs and messes,

Hard the strife, not soft the stresses,

Like swan-feathers softly sifring

Snow o‘er Míle‘s folk is drifting,

Manann‘s wife shakes angry tresses.

At the mouth of each dark river

Breaking waters surge and shiver,

Wind and winter met together

Trouble Alba with wild weather,

Countless falls on Dremon quiver.

Son of God , great Lord of wonder,

Save me from the ravening thunder!

By the feast before Thy dying

Save me from the tempest crying

And from Hell tempestuous under!

O the stern ascetic life, daily labour and prayer of the monks in their cells and anchorites in their oratories we learn through the fragments of verse that remain.

“The wind over the Hog‘s Back moans,

It takes the trees and lays them low,

And shivering monks o‘er frozen stones

To the twain hours of nighttime go.

(ie. The wind is sharp and cold when the men go to church at Glendalough for vespers and nocturne!)

Love of Nature

“Learned in music sings the lark,

I leave my cell to listen;

his open break spills music, hark!

Where Heaven‘s bright cloudlets glisten.

And so I ‘ll sing my morning psalm

That God bright Heaven may give me

And keep me in eternal calm

And from all sin relieve me.

There is a story that tells of a time Saint Brigit went to visit Colmcille in Iona. Her small craft was struggling through the waves as there was little wind. A flock of Oystercatcher birds whooshed by and through their aid she travelled with great speed to arrive at that northern Island of Iona. To this day the Irish name for the Oystercatcher bird is “Bríd éan“ – Brigit‘s bird.

There are many excellent films about currachs:

A recent and wonderful film The Camino Voyage follows the efforts of a group of Irish men including musician Glen Hansard, author Donal Mac an tSíthigh and traditional musician Brendán Begley.

There are other photographs from a small festival I organised back in 2015 called Féile na Saoirse– the central focus over a week was building a currach using the Irish language.

Holy Wells

Caoineadh na dTrí Mhuire – Lament of the Three Marys

A Pheadair, a Aspail,

An bhfaca tú mo ghrá geal?

Óch óchón agus óchón-ó!

Chonaic mé ar ball é,

Gá chéasadh ag an ngarda.

Óch óchón agus óchón-ó! 

Cé hé an fear breá sin

Ar Chrann na mPáise?

Óch óchón agus óchón-ó!

An é n-aithníonn tú

Do Mhac, a Mháthrín?

Óch óchón agus óchón-ó! 

An é sin an Maicín

A hoileadh in ucht Mháire?

Óch óchón agus óchón-ó!

An é sin an Maicín

A rugadh insan stábla?

Óch óchón agus óchón-ó! 

An é sin an Maicín

A d’iompair mé trí ráithe?

Óch óchón agus óchón-ó!

A Mhicín mhúirneach,

Tá do bhéal ‘s do shróinín gearrtha,

Óchón agus óchón-ó! 

Cuireadh tairní maolatrína chosa ‘s trína lámha,

Óch óchón agus óchón-ó!

Cuireadh an tsleáTrína bhrollach álainn.

Óch óchón agus óchón-ó!

Óch óchón agus óchón-ó!

Session Three

Celtic Festivals – The Irish Celtic Calendar – The Otherworld

The Hill Of Uisneach from on Vimeo.

Above is a virtual introduction to the hill of Uisneach – at the centre of Ireland.

Recording of the third session:

Recording of our Week 3 Session: