Along with Seán Ó Ríordáin and Máirtin Ó Direáin she is ‘one of a trinity of poets who revolutionised Irish language poetry in the 1940 and 50s.’ Louis de Paor
Listowel Writers’ Week is honoured and delighted to be hosting a Bi-lingual Celebration & Tribute to the Work of a woman who has been described as ‘the most significant writer from Kerry in the past 100 years’ – Máire Mhac an tSaoi. The event will take place on Saturday 1 June at 7.30pm at The Listowel Arms Hotel, and forms part of our Gathering strand of events.
The Celebration & Tribute will be facilitated by Louis de Paor, Director of the Centre of Irish Studies at NUI, along with poets Biddy Jenkinson, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Gabriel Fitzmaurice. A number of dramatic readings from Máire’s authobiography, will be read by Marina Ní Dhubhain, and Marina’s daughter, Siobhán (13) – a sean nós singer – will sing ‘Le Coinnle na nAingeal.’
Máire will be in attendance and will launch her new book Marbhnaí Duino at the event. “The Duineser Elegien by Rainer Maria Rilke is one of the most important long poems written in Europe in the last century, a masterpiece written by the poet as he approached his final years, dealing with questions of life, death and eternity, and which has often been compared to TS Eliot’s Wasteland.
“Rilke’s poem has found a suitable translator in Máire Mhac an tSaoi, one of the country’s foremost poets. Máire Mhac an tSaoi has been working on an Irish translation from the German for many years now, and, not only does her work show the expanse and ambition of the German poem, it also succeeds in shocking the vocabulary of Irish poetry in a way that shows once more her mastery of language and imagination. Irish readers are indebted to her for her translation of one of the most powerful poems in Modern European literature.
“Tá Marbhnaí Duino le Rainer Maria Rilke ar cheann de na dánta fada is tábhachtaí dar scríobhadh san Eoraip sa chéad seo caite, máistirshaothar diamhair a scríobh an ?le Gearmánach i dtreo dheireadh a shaoil, a dhíríonn ar cheisteanna móra faoin mbeatha dhaonna a chaitear faoi scáil na síoraíochta. Leis an tionchar a bhí aige ar fhilí eile i dteangacha éagsúla agus an tslí go gcuireann Rilke cruth ?líochta ar chás agus ar chorrabhuais an duine sa saol nua-aimseartha, tá an bundán Gearmáinise curtha i gcomparáid le ‘The Wasteland’ le TS Eliot.
“Tá aistritheoir a dhiongbhála aimsithe ag Rilke i Máire Mhac an tSaoi. Tá sí ag obair ar leagan Gaeilge de na marbhnaí le blianta fada agus an saothar iomlán aistrithe go Gaeilge anois aici. Ní hamháin go léiríonn an leagan seo acmhainn agus uaillmhian an bhundáin Ghearmáinise, baineann sé geit chomh maith as friotal ?líochta na Gaeilge ar shlí a chruthaíonn arís mórchumas teangan agus samhlaíochta Mháire Mhac an tSaoi. Éirinn le céad bliain anuas.
“Tabharfaidh an t-aistriúchán seo deis nua do scoláirí dul i ngleic lena saothar agus cuir?dh sé go mór lenár dtuiscint ar fhilíocht na nGael i gcomhthéacs idirnáisiúnta. Go deimhin, cuid de na ceisteanna céanna faoi chaidreamh agus chreideamh, beatha agus bás, atá chomh láidir sin i mórdhán Rilke, tá siad á gcíoradh ina cuid dánta déanacha féin sa tslí go gclosimid macalla beo a glóir féin ag labhairt i nguth maorga an fhile mhairbh ón nGearmáin.”
Now 91 years old, Máire Mhac an tSaoi is, without doubt, one of the most acclaimed and respected Irish language scholars, poets, writers and academics of Modern Irish. Her other work includes the poetry collections, Codladh an Ghalscígh (1956), Margadh na Saoire agus Véarsaí Eile (1973), Shoa agus Dánte Eile (1999) as well as the work of scholarship Dhá Scéal Artúraíochta (1946), the novella A Bhean Óg Ón (2001) and her autobiography The Same Age as the State (2003). Seamus Heaney said of her autobioghraphy, “There is truth to experience here, a forthrightness about passion and transgression that is thrilling and exemplary.”
Born Máire MacEntee in Dublin in 1922, her father, Seán MacEntee was a founding member of Fianna Fáil and a participant of the Easter Rising. Her mother was a teacher and Irish republican. Máire married the politician, writer and historian Conor Cruise O’Brien in 1962 and spent much of her married life in America and Africa. She has said of her relatively late marriage at 40, “I wanted to marry, but in those days, the aphorism was that clever girls were difficult to marry.”
She attributes her reputation for revolutionising Irish poetry in the 1940, 50s and 60s as much from her treatment of love in her poems as from her treatment of the form. “I was very lucky to write in Irish,” she has said. “If I had used the word ‘bed’ in a love poem in English, it would never have been published, but nobody reads what you write in Irish, or very few people do, and they’re not likely to be shocked.”
John Jordan, writing in the Irish Times on 23 February 1957 said: “Others, more competent than myself have commented on Miss Mhac an tSaoi’s technical accomplishment and her sympathy with the genius of the Irish language. Miss Mhac an tSaoi has a poetic voice with its own unmistakable timbre, and what she has to say adds up to an unrigged vision. There is no trace in her work of synthetic emotion. She is a lyrical analyst of the stresses laid by time and human incapacity on love and friendship in their growth, blossoming and withering.
Her profound tragic sense teaches her that human relationships, whether casual and brief or deeply rooted, are doomed to perish, she does not reject them on that account. [Her] poems are crystallisations of the mingled emotions of gratitude for the privilege of having known human beings. Underlying, serving this gratitude, there is an impersonal compassion for her subjects: they cannot remain as she has seen and known them, but must travel on to their common unspectaculart destinies dála cháich.
She is a prober of the condition of love, and no living Irish poet has brought more honesty and insight to the subject. [Her] quatrains are unquestionably the finest sequence of their kind written in Irish since the efforts to create in the revived language began.”
For more information or to book this event, please click on the following link Máire Mhac an tSaoi