Inquisitio 1584

views updated

"Inquisitio 1584"

c. 1985

Máire Mhac an tSaoi

Born in 1922 the daughter of Seán MacEntee, deputy prime minister in the de Valera and Lemass governments, Máire Mhac an tSaoi (the Gaelic form of her surname) studied in Paris after completing her B.A. and M.A. at University College Dublin and then returned to work in Celtic Studies at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. She studied for the Irish bar, entered the foreign service, and later married the Irish diplomat and journalist Conor Cruise O'Brien. A well-known Gaelic poet and scholar, she has published seven collections of poetry and several critical and historical essays. This poem, an elegy on the hanging of Sean MacEdmund MacUlick by the English in Limerick c. 1584, published in An Cion go dtí Seo (The amount to now, 1987), reveals her extensive knowledge of Irish history and the Gaelic literary tradition.

SEE ALSO Arts: Modern Irish and Anglo-Irish Literature and the Arts since 1800; Literature: Twentieth-Century Women Writers

In that year of the age of Our Lord
Fifteen hundred and eighty
Or some few short years after
Sean MacEdmund MacUlick
Hard by Shannon was hanged.
Hard by the shoals of Shannon
In Limerick, history's city,
Sean MacEdmund MacUlick
Come west from the parish of Marrhan
Who was chieftain of Balleneenig.
Treason his crime, his lands
Were given in hand of the stranger
And now around Mount Marrhan
His name is not even remembered
Nor is his kindred known there.
Undisturbed be your sleep
Sean MacEdmund MacUlick
On the banks of the mighty Shannon
When the wind blows in from the sea
From the west and from your own country.

Reprinted in Irish Literature: A Reader, edited by Maureen O'Rourke Murphy and James Mackillop (1987). Reproduced by permission of the author.