Aguisín, (“Afterword”) a Reading by Aifric Mac Aodha

Throughout the month of March, Trasna is featuring Irish language writers. This week, we are pleased to share the work of Aifric Mac Aodha, an accomplished Irish-language poet. We are also pleased to share the spoken word, two readings, each in Irish and English, by the poet. For many Americans, Aifric Mac Aodha’s reading may be your first encounter with this rich and ancient language. As evident from the translations of her poetry, there is beauty here, not just of language, but of images: “But don’t be so hard on my youth,/ that I loved fire and not the fireplace./ Time I started over and like Cúchulainn/ went to war with the waves.”

Aifric Mac Aodha reads “Aguisín” and “Gabháil Syrinx”


Níor eitil an t-éan i ndiaidh a rubaill,

níor thréig aon bheach coirceog,

níor shiúil an leon faoin gcathair mhór,

an chathair mhór, níor dódh.

An leithscéal a bheadh agam féin,

gur briseadh orm gan choinne,

ní mise is fearr, de réir dealraimh,

i dtaca le scaoileadh nod(a).

Ná tógtar orm é, m’óige,

nár thuigeas an teallach ón tine.

Tá in am agam tosú as an nua,

dul ag coraíocht leis an tonn tuile.


The bird didn’t fly tail-first

or the hive lose a single drone,

the lion didn’t prowl below the city

and the city didn’t burn down.

All I’ve got by way of excuse

is being caught on the hop,

who was never the first in line

for when the penny dropped.

But don’t be so hard on my youth,

that I loved fire and not the fireplace.

Time I started over and like Cúchulainn

went to war with the waves.

Trans. David Wheatley

Gabháil Syrinx

Critheann an solas

ar chothrom an locha,

ritheann an ghealach

den chiorcal róchumtha.

Stopann fad spéire

fán aimhréidhe theann,

ropann a loinnir

inneach na gcrann.

Feileann an t-iomlán

do theorainn na luachra,

ceileann an chiumhsóg

tosach an bhruacha.

* * * *

Ligim uaim le haimsir

pictiúr seo na bruinnille:

ní ghéilleann sí d’éinfear

ná ní sheasann ina choinne.

Anáil mhná, ní scaoileann

ach eadarghlór ar tinneall:

i láthair na gabhála,

ceiliúrann sí is critheann.

The Taking of Syrinx

Light flickers

on the face of the water

and the moon flies

the glamoury circle.

A length of unmoored sky

defies strong snares

and the trees’ weave

is torn by lustre.

The whole sets off

the rushy edge,

the narrow bounds

where the river-bank ends.

* * * *

Over time I develop

this picture of the girl:

she yields to no man

nor stands in his way.

A woman won’t breathe

unless ready, between-words:

at the site of the ambush,

she sways, transformed.

Trans. David Wheatley

Aifric Mac Aodha is the Irish-language poetry editor of Poetry Ireland Reviewgorse and The Stinging Fly. Her first poetry collection, Gabháil Syrinx (The Taking of Syrinx), was published by An Sagart in 2010 and she has had work in various magazines and journals, including POETRY Young Irish Poets. Her work has been translated to many languages, including French, German, Italian, Spanish and Czech. She has been awarded several bursaries by The Arts Council and, in recent years, she has read at numerous festivals in Europe, America and India. She was the winner of the Oireachtas Prize for Poetry (2017). Her latest collection, Foreign News, with translations by David Wheatley, was published by The Gallery Press in 2017:

She lives in Dublin where she now works for the Irish-language publisher, An Gúm.

One Response to Aguisín, (“Afterword”) a Reading by Aifric Mac Aodha

  1. Eileen says:April 2, 2021 at 6:11 amAifric
    ta mo gaeilge beagnach caillte agam,,,,it was a treat to hear you read.
    Thank you and to Trasna also for this gift.