“Some time ago, we decided to devote most of one issue to Irish Pages/Duilli Eireann to contemporary writing in Irish, so as to illustrate the still-thriving literary life of the island’s old language. We appreciate that much of the this issue will be inaccessible to many of our readers, but hope that those without Gaelic will nonetheless glean some sense of the rich Irish-language dimension of contemporary Irish literature,” write the editors. And we do!
At a hefty, 230+ pages, this Gaeilge issue, handsomely produced on wonderfully dense and bright white paper stock, is a rich and fantastic entrée into the world of Irish literature. It will make you wish you could read the Irish; inspire you to read Irish writing in translation; and impress you with the depth, breadth, and range of Irish culture.
I loved Patricia Craig’s essay “To Scullabogue: Backwards from Belfast: Against Sectarian Preconceptions” and Hugo Hamilton’s essay “Immigrant Poets,” smartly written, brightly balanced between personal observations and analytical commentary. And the poetry! The original Irish and English translations of Celia de Fréine’s “Letters”:
It was not enough for you to watch letters
tumble from my lips,
to see them hover,
forming words as they reached the ceiling
because, when you read these words
you weren’t able to believe them.
And a poem I can’t understand, but can nonetheless appreciate, “Haiti 2010” by Seán Ó Leochaín.
“I’m writing this on a Sunday evening as a soft velvety dusk hugs the hills. The glen is awash in a glow of purple. I’m more in tune with this lovely twilight of blackbird, lark and cuckoo than I am with the cacophony of a city and its stammering orchestra of bass-tuba traffic. In this open space I have a freedom to look, listen and dream. In this rural amplitude I give my soul to my senses,” writes Cathal Ó Searcaigh in “The View from the Glen,” a marvelous bilingual essay about poetic influences from the natural world (Li Po, Tu Fu, and Mary Oliver). Give your soul to Irish Pages.