The Lament for Arthur O’Leary
About This Book
The last poem in Sí-Orphans of the Plaintive Air is a translation of the lament by Black Eileen O’Connell (Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill) for her murdered husband Art O’Leary. It is one of the great poems of the Gaelic eighteenth century, and probably the greatest by a woman poet in the Irish language before the twentieth century. I studied it for two years in secondary school and for a further year at university and eventually made a translation in the mid-nineties for a friend who is a distant relative of Eileen’s. I came back to it some years ago, aware that mine is one of several modern translations available, some by very distinguished poets.