Skip to main content

2016 Press Releases

A poem at Christmas

16 Dec 2016
"And a turf fire Burning on the hearth." Image: Wikimedia Commons

A slightly older contemporary of Seán Ó Ríordáin, who along with him fashioned the course of modern poetry in Irish, Máirtín Ó Direáin was born on Aran in 1910. 

The following little poem, dated by him 'Nollaig 1942', is set against the background of the war then raging throughout the world. Like much of Ó Direáin's early poetry, it also expresses his own longing for an idyllic former life from which, as a civil servant in Dublin, working in the censorship office, he is now shut out for ever. He has described this period as 'the five most barren years of my life'.

Emeritus Professor of Modern Irish, Seán Ó'Coileáin




An eol duit, a Mhuire,

Cá rachair i mbliana

Ag iarraidh foscaidh

Dod Leanbh Naofa

Tráth a bhfuil gach doras

Dúnta Ina Éadan

Ag fuath is uabhar

An chine dhaonna?


Deonaigh glacadh

Le cuireadh uaimse

Go hoileán mara 

San iarthar chianda: 

Beidh coinnle geala

I ngach fuinneoig lasta

Is tine mhóna

Ar theallach adhanta.





Do you know, Mary,

Where you will go this year

Seeking shelter

For your Holy Child

When every door

Is shut in His face

By the hatred and pride

Of the human race?


Please accept

My invitation

To a sea-girt island

In the far-off west:

Bright candles will be

Lighting in every window

And a turf fire

Burning on the hearth.



University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF