Irish Language Blog

An Ghaeilge agus Éirí Amach 1916 Posted by on Jul 23, 2021 in Culture

An Ghaeilge agus Éirí Amach 1916 – The Irish Language and the Rising of 1916

In the Irish Times I recently came across a publication originally from 2016. It is a 32 page document which intended to provide analysis on relevant topics relating to the vision that existed for language and society 100 years ago and where it stands today. It talks heavily about the Easter Rising and the fight for Irish independence 100 years prior in 1916, and how it is relevant in society today and for the fight of the revival of the Irish language.

The PDF can be found here, courtesy of the Irish Times.

The publication ends with the publishing of the poem Cam reilige 1916-1966 (Birth Defect 1916-1966) by Irish poet Máire Mhac an tSaoi who wrote it on the 50th anniversary of the Éirí Amach na Cásca – Easter Rising. 

The original Irish and English version are below:


Cam reilige 1916-1966 ó Máire Mhac an tSaoi

Iadsan a cheap an riail,

‘Mheabhraigh an dualgas,

A d’fhág fuarbhlas orainn,

Oidhrí na huachta,

Fé ndear gur leamh anois

Gach ní nach tinneall

Íogair ar fhaobhar lice

Idir dhá thine.


Fear lár an tsúsa

Conas a thuigfeadh san

Oibriú an fhuachta

Ar bhráithre na n-imeallach?

Cár ghaibh ár mbagairt ar

Fhear lár na fichille?

Amas a crapadh ar

Chiosaíbh an imeartha!


Lonnú is fearann dúinn

Bord na sibhialtachta;

Cad a bheir beatha ann

Seachas ar phrínseabal?

Ná caitear asachán

Linne – lucht céalacain

B’shin a raibh d’acht againn;

Ár gcoir? Gur ghéillann!



Birth Defect 1916 – 1966 by Máire Mhac an tSaoi.


Those who established the rule,

reminded us of our duty,

Left us cold inheritors

Of their legacy, bored

With everything that is not

A precarious trembling

On a knife edge

Between blazing fires.


How can the moderate man

In his comfortable bed

Understand how the cold

Afflicts his brothers on the edge?

What happened all our threats

Against the chessboard king?

Our assault collapsed

On the outskirts of the battlefield!


We have settled down

On the level plain of civilization

Life here derives from

What else if not principle?

Spare us your contempt.

Deprived of nourishment,

It was our only code.

Our crime? That we accepted it.


When reading more about Máire Mhac an tSaoi, I found out that her father Seán McEntee, fought in the GPO (the occupied post office that became the ‘headquarters’ for the rebels during the rising) in 1916 and was sentenced to death, at 27, for his role in the killing of a police officer – a sentence that was commuted after a petition by liberal Belfast protestants. He went on to cofound Fianna Fáil. 

The documentary “Deargdhúil: Anatomy of Passion explores the life, work and sensual poetic imagination of the revolutionary Irish poet Máire Mhac an tSaoi. Born in 1922, her story is set against a backdrop of a tumultuous century in Irish history in which she and her family were centrally involved. At a time when women’s voices were being silenced, the native tradition in the Irish language was her stage to explore the depths of female sexuality and experience without shame.” (in the words of the director and writer Paula Kehoe)

The documentary features home movies filmed by her father around Dún Chaoin, in the Kerry Gaeltacht, and in Dublin, as well as Máire’s poems and story voiced by herself and others. Below are two excerpts of the documentary:

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About the Author: Bridgette

Just your average Irish-American Italo-Francophone. Client Engagement for Transparent Language.

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