Innovative book promises to boost use of Irish language

National ICA president Marie O’Toole launched the book, Buail Suas Amhran, at Cork Federation’s 80th birthday celebrations in Innishannon in early December.

The book is the brainchild of federation timire Anne Carleton, while federation secretary Pauline O’Callaghan did Trojan work putting it together.

Anne, who is also An Grianán teachta, saw the book as fulfilling a dual purpose: “It will improve people’s Irish and the profits go to the Mary O’Driscoll Trust Fund, which sends members to An Grianán through scholarships.”

The book title was inspired by An Capall Bán, Anne’s favourite sean-nós song. “Macroom and Uibh Laoghaire are mentioned in it so it’s definitely a Cork song. The line ‘buail suas amhran’ occurs when he’s singing to the horse.”

Work on the project began in late spring with words sent out through the guilds for songs and anything of interest related to Irish.

“We got back things ranging from songs done in Infants class to a really funny bi-lingual recitation, Micheál Mór and City Sue. We have Seán Ó Riordán’s Cúl An Tí with the English translation beside it. A Bishopstown Guild member’s granddaughter has a poem in it, Beauty ina Bhfolach (Beauty in Hiding).”

As a nod to 2016, the poets of the Rising feature: Joseph Mary Plunkett’s A Wave of the Sea and Pádraig Pearse’s The Mother. The ICA prayer makes an appearance too, in both English and phonetic Irish.

“We say it in both Irish and English before guild meetings. There’s always plenty volume for the English, it goes quieter for the Irish. We put in the phonetic Irish version because we’ve got quite a few foreign national members now,” says Anne, who confirms there’s a Latvian member in her Grenagh guild.

A very poignant inclusion is Slow Dance, a poem that Anne says was written by a young girl dying of cancer in a New York hospital.

“Her wish was that it would be passed on to as many people as possible. It’s all about slowing down your life. There’s a line in it that gets me: ‘Ever told your child we’ll do it tomorrow and in your haste not seen his sorrow’.”

Available now, the book Buail Suas Amhran costs €5.


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