Doireann Ní Ghríofa ~ “Under a Fridge Magnet is a Photo of Grandmother as a Schoolgirl”

Throughout the month of March, Trasna is featuring Irish language writers. This week, we are pleased to share the work of Doireann Ní Ghríofa. Included in this post is a video of  her poem: “Under a Fridge Magnet is a Photo of Grandmother as a Schoolgirl.” The poem is read in Irish by the poet, and includes the English translation. 

Doireann Ní Ghríofa, an essayist as well as a poet, recently won the Irish Book of the Year 2020 for ‘A Ghost in the Throat’, her prose debut. Part essay, part memoir, ‘A Ghost in the Throat’ recounts Ní Ghríofa’s connection with the eighteenth-century poet Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, and her masterpiece, “Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire.” “When we first met, I was a child, and she had been dead for centuries.” ‘A Ghost in the Throat’ is set to be released this June in the U.S.

Faoi Mhaighnéidín Cuisneora, tá Grianghraf de Mhamó mar Chailín Scoile,

agus ag cúl an reoiteora

tá gríscíní, raca agus rí uaineola

corp agus cnámha, cosa reoite –

bladhm faoi oighear.

Deir céad-dlí Newton

go bhfanfaidh gach corp

ag gluaiseacht faoi threoluas

mura ngníomhaíonn fórsa seachtrach air.

Caillte: na crúibíní

a rinne poc-rince ar chliathán

cnoic trí sholas na gréine

ag dul faoi, dearg-bhuí.

Under a Fridge Magnet is a Photo of Grandmother as a Schoolgirl,

and at the back of the freezer

are chops, a rack, and legs of lamb

body and bone, frozen limbs –

a spark in ice, grown still.

Newton’s first law states

that a body will remain in motion

at the same velocity, unless acted on

by an external force.

Absent: the hooflets

that skip-jigged over a hill

where the red-yellow light

of sunset spilled.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a poet and essayist. ‘A Ghost in the Throat’ was named Irish Book of the Year 2020, and described as “glowing” (Anne Enright), “captivatingly original”​​ (The Guardian), “sumptuous” (The Sunday Times), and a “masterpiece” (Sunday Business Post). Doireann is also author of six critically-acclaimed books of poetry, each a deepening exploration of birth, death, desire, and domesticity. Awards for her writing include a Lannan Literary Fellowship (USA), the Ostana Prize (Italy), a Seamus Heaney Fellowship (Queen’s University), and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, among others.

Author photo: Clare Keogh

2 Responses to Doireann Ní Ghríofa ~ “Under a Fridge Magnet is a Photo of Grandmother as a Schoolgirl”

  1. Paul Marion says:March 20, 2021 at 9:16 amOutstanding short film and reading with translation. This is peak Trasna, something that we’d very likely not encounter were it not for the efforts of the three editors of this weekly Friday feature.Absent: the hoofletsthat skip-jigged over a hillwhere the red-yellow lightof sunset spilled.
  2. Jeannie Sargent Judge says:March 20, 2021 at 7:36 pmThank you for your recognition, Paul; credit belongs to Margaret and Chris for this lovely presentation! J