Máire Ní Bhriain from Co. Wexford, Ireland, writes in both English and Irish. She has been a recipient of grants and bursaries from the Arts Department of Wexford Co. Council, has work included in many journals and has published six poetry collections. (maryobrienpoetry.com). A short story was shortlisted for the R.T.É. Francis MacManus short story competition in 2016. She was the winner of Duais Fhoras na Gaeilge 2017 at Listowel Writers’ Week and has been a reader for Duais de hÍde at Strokestown Poetry Festival in 2019 and 2020. Her recent collection, Ré na nÚll, was published by Coiscéim, Dublin, in 2019.
Strainséirí an chéad mhaidin sin
ach trí sheachtain de mhí Iúil
chun aithne a chur ar a chéile,
chun sárú ar an gcaitheamh i ndiaidh baile.
Bhí an teach os cionn na farraige
le radharc amach ar ghaineamh,
ar charraigeacha, agus ón doras oscailte
boladh feamainne, grágaíl faoileán.
Bean a’ tí go breá cairdiúil ach tostaithe
ag canúint Chonamara, níl focal againn di.
Murab ionann is sa chistin, an teanga dhúchais
ina tuile acu, páistí an tí ag cabaireacht
leo gan dua. Ón raidió ar an drisiúr
fonn mall á sheinm ar na píobaí,
nótaí caointeacha ag éalú tharainn amach
an fhuinneog oscailte, síos i dtreo
an chladaigh chiúin, taoide trá.
Strangers that first morning
but three weeks of July
to get to know each other,
get the better of the homesickness.
The house just above the water,
our view was onto sand and rocks,
and from the open door the pungency
of seaweed, the call of gulls.
The bean a’ tí is friendly but thrown by
the Connemara dialect, we have no replies.
Not so in the kitchen, where, native tongue
in full flow, the children of the house are
chatty, giddy. From the sideboard radio
a slow air played on uileann pipes;
plaintive notes go drifting slowly past us
out the open window down towards
a quiet shore, an ebbing tide.
Littermore, steep slope,
difficult in frost –
the Dashers Hill
and in Killincooley,
near the little corner church
a fall of damsons.
On summer visits
no sign of the little fort
no bird song now
in the wood of tree stumps,
and long a ruin,
the homeplace at the gap.