Gay Gaeldom Returns: Poetry and Plans

Last weekend, my partner & I travelled to Edinburgh from Cork to take part in an event organised by Scottish Gaelic poet, Marcas Mac an Tuairneir, and the University of Edinburgh’s Highland Society as part of the Scottish capital’s festival for Gaelic language and culture, Seachdain na Gàidhlig.

The theme of the event was LGBT poetry in two of the three Gaelic languages, Gaeilge and Gàidhlig. Being gay, of course, is only one part of me, but being a gay writer in a minority language means that I’m part of not just one minority community, but two. The same goes for Marcas, although we are by no means the first LGBT writers in either Gaelic language. Regardless, Na Balaich Aighearach | Na Buachaillí Aeracha (literally, ‘the gay boys‘) saw Marcas and I read our poetry in Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and English, with a few songs by Marcas and my good friend, Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe.

As Alison and I were a little late to the event (“typical Irish timing”, as Marcas aptly put it!) we had little time to prepare or compare our chosen poems, and yet common themes clearly appeared during our performance. I read two separate poems, Oíche ar an gCé and Mångata (a poem in English, despite its Swedish title), in which I touched on showing affection to a love interest away from broad daylight or public eye. This theme was reflected in some of Marcas’ poetry also, showing common experiences and subtle inequalities still experienced by LGBT people. We also read poems that touched on Armistice Day and soldiers, with the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One taking place the following day, as well as national identities and relationships – all part of an overall expression of identity and finding oneself, but told through the eyes of gay writers.

Aside from the poetry, it was wonderful to take part in a Gaelic-language event, and to see the language alive and well in Scotland’s capital. I studied Scottish Gaelic for a semester while doing my undergrad at UCD, and while I didn’t pay much attention to it then, I’ve since travelled to the gorgeous Scottish Highlands, as well as visiting Edinburgh a handful of times, to see the language ‘in action’. The state of the language and its community of speakers are in a different situation to Irish, and yet there is an energy to its younger and urban speakers, which gives me hope for a’ Ghàidhlig. At one particular point near the end of the event, Marcas sang the Gaelic song, Canan nan Gaidheal, which even my partner noted brought a warm atmosphere to the event, giving the impression that both Irish and Scottish Gaelic speakers were one community.

I must admit also, that Marcas himself was something of an inspiration to me. His passion for Gaelic, poetry, and pushing his writing ‘out there’ through various publications and competitions is something that I’ve done at times, but not with his seemingly consistent effort. While I do take part in the occasional literary event, and have two books published, I consider my writing as a creative outlet which is – first and foremost – for myself. I use writing as a form of releasing built-up thoughts and emotions, and sometimes as a form of self-therapy. Still, Marcas’ enthusiasm has encouraged me to write more, and with renewed purpose. We discussed the idea of a publishing a literary pamphlet in Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and English, and hopefully this will be a good project for 2019.

Finally, I’d like to say “Mòran taing” or many thanks to Marcas, Drew MacNaughton, and the rest of the organisers for inviting me to read in Edinburgh and be part of the Edinburgh Gaelic Festival. I returned to Ireland with a re-energised sense of being part of the wider Gaelic (or even Celtic) community, and hope to take part a little more in future. Míle buíochas daoibh go léir.

Featured image by Comann Ceilteach Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann

Ar Thóir na Gàidhlig

In ionad siamsaíochta agus pobail atá lonnaithe idir siopaí Morrisons, Lidl, agus an McDonalds áitiúil, tá cúig phóstaer crochta ó shíléar an halla. Tá “D’Alba” deartha amach i litreacha móra ar an bpóstaer atá thar an bhfáiltiú, fógra ar son an chainéil Ghàidhlig, BBC Alba. Ar na póstaeir eile, táthar ag iarraidh daoine na háite a mhealladh chun an teanga dúchais a fhoghlaim, bíodh ar son a gcuid páistí í, nó ar a son féin. Níl an fhógraíocht Ghàidhlig seo ina n-aonar, mar tá roinnt mhaith fógra le feiceáil timpeall an cheantair. Is cosúil, de réir an méid atá thart, go bhfuil teanga na nGael beo go fóill in Albain. Continue reading “Ar Thóir na Gàidhlig”

Céard is Brí le Bheith ‘Sa Bhaile’?

Luí an sneachta go séimh ar na goirt, na faichí, idir na crainn, agus na portaigh dá raibh le feiceáil ó fhuinneoga na traenach. Ag an am sin den tráthnóna, ba ghile an talamh ná an spéir, mar a d’éirigh na scamaill dhobhriste liatha níos dorcha le teacht na hoíche agus deireadh sholas an lae. Nuair a chuaigh an traein go rí-thapaidh trí bhaile beag, ba chuma air go raibh achan duine ann i bhfolach, ag lorg tearmainn ina dtithe féin, nó sa teach tábhairne teolaí. Continue reading “Céard is Brí le Bheith ‘Sa Bhaile’?”

Filleadh ar an Seanbhaile

“An mothaíonn tú uait an áit seo?”

Ceist ab ea í nach raibh mé ag súil léi. Bhí mé i mo shuí os comhair mo charad Sasanaí, i gcaifé álainn i gceartlár na dTithe Uaimh, nó Nottingham, chun an logainm is cómónta a úsáid. Bhí solas ghrian na Samhna ag líonadh an chaifé go séimh, le meascán cheol lounge agus fhíreán an mhaisín caife ar siúl sa chúlra. Ní raibh mo chara sainteach nuair a chuir sí an cheist sin orm, ach thuig sí cheana féin go raibh mé sásta le bheith ar ais ar feadh seal. Continue reading “Filleadh ar an Seanbhaile”

Más Linne an Phoblacht, Nach Linne an Pholaitíocht?

Cuireadh ceist orm inniu: Pioc amach fadhb amháin faoin tír seo, agus pioc amach bua amháin fúithi fosta. Bhí an chéad chuid den dúshlán níos deacra (tiocfaidh mé ar ais chuige sin ar ball) ach bhí an dara chuid éasca.

Is é an bua is fearr dá bhfuil againn ná an pobal. Pobal tacaíochta. Pobal nasctha. Pobal gan bhearna róbhéasach ná gan bhac cainte, ach pobal a labhraíonn ar nós go bhfuil aithne acu ar a chéile ar feadh na mblianta. Tá an tréith sin ar cheann de na rudaí is fearr faoi na hÉireannaigh, agus bhí sé ar cheann de na rudaí a mhothaigh mé uaim, nuair a bhí cónaí orm thar lear. Continue reading “Más Linne an Phoblacht, Nach Linne an Pholaitíocht?”