Seán Ó Ríordáin in Comhar

Rugadh Seán Ó Ríordáin i mBaile Bhuirne, Contae Chorcaí sa bhliain 1914. Ba bhreac-Ghaeltacht é Baile Bhuirne : ní raibh Gaeilge ag a mháthair; bhí Gaeilge ag a athair, ach labhair siad Béarla sa bhaile. Mhothaigh Ó Ríordáin an difear idir an dá chultúr go domhain agus chreid sé nach raibh sé ábalta é féin nó na daoine a chuaigh roimhe a thuiscint toisc nach raibh Gaeilge ón chliabhán aige.

Bhí sé an-tinn i rith a shaoil: bhí an eitinn air agus bhí air a am a chaitheamh i seomra ar leith sa teach. Ní chuireann sé iontas orainn go bpléann sé téamaí éadóchasacha, gruama, tromchúiseacha ina chuid filíochta: tinneas, an aonaracht, an bás, áit an duine sa saol, caidreamh le Dia agus mar sin de. Fuair sé bás sa bhliain 1977.

Tá rogha de dhánta Uí Ríordáin ar an eagrán reatha de Comhar. Roghnaigh scríbhneoirí éagsúla na dánta, agus míníonn siad an fáth gur phioc siad iad. Tugann Liam Ó Muirthile ómós don Ríordánach mar réamhrá do na dánta, don fhear bhocht dhaonna ‘a chruthaigh agus a d’fhág gailearaí iomlán pictiúirí i seomra fiabhrais a chuid samhlaíochta.’

Taitníonn an t-eagrán reatha de Comhar go mór liom. Cludaíónn sé litríocht , cúrsaí reatha agus cúrsaí teanga. Bhí imní orm faoi thodhchaí an irisleabhair ag pointe amháin. Chaill sé a dheontas agus níor foilsíodh é ar feadh tamaill. Bhí cuma air gur caitheadh le chéile é uaireanta, ach tháinig feabhas air ar na mallaibh. Ní ábhar léitheoireachta don trá é, ach clúdaíónn sé téamaí tábhachtacha, agus tá irisí mar seo de dhíth orainn. Tá siad riachtanach do mhúinteoirí agus do mhic léinn agus do dhuine ar bith ar mhaith leis caighdeán a chuid Gaeilge a ardú agus smaointearacht ár scríbhneoirí a mheasúnú.

Seán Ó Ríordáin was born in Baile Bhuirne, County Cork in 1914. Baile Bhuirne was a mixed Irish/ English speaking area: his mother didn’t speak Irish; his father had Irish, but they spoke English at home. Ó Ríordáin was deeply aware of the differences between the two cultures, and he believed that he could not understand himself or his people before him since he was not a native speaker of Irish,

He was very ill throughout his life: he had tuberculosis and he had to spend his time in a room specially set aside in the house. It is no surprise that he deals with pessimistic, gloomy, serious themes in his poetry: illness, isolation, death, our place in the world, our relationship with God and so on. He died in 1977.

There is a selection of Ó Ríordáin’s poems in the current edition of Comhar. Various writers chose the poems and they give reasons for their choice. Liam Ó Muirthile pays tribute to Ó Ríordáin in a preface to the poems, a tribute to the poor, kindly man ‘who created and left a complete gallery of pictures in the fevered room of his imagination.’

I really like the current edition of Comhar. It covers literature, current affairs and language matters. I was worried about the future of the magazine at one point. It lost its grant and publication was suspended for some time. It looked as if it had been thrown together sometimes, but it has improved recently. It is not reading for the beach, but it deals with important topics, and we need magazines like this. They are essential for teachers, students, and anyone wishing to improve his or her standard of Irish and to evaluate the thinking of our writers.