Deirdre of the Sorrows, You’re Not to Blame

Deirdre of the Sorrows, You’re Not to Blame

A Dheirdre, dè an fios a bh’agad? An robhO Deirdre, what did you know? Did you
Fios agad air an fhàisneachadh ‘n Dhraoidh Cathbhadh?Know about the prophecy of the Druid Cathbad?
Dè smaoinich thu? ‘N do ghabh thu uabhas aig anWhat did you think? Did you take horror at that
Smaoin sin gum millteadh rìoghachd mhòr air do shon…?Idea that a great kingdom would be ruined on your account…?
An iarr thu an dàn a dh’fhàisnich Cathbhadh?Did you want the fate that Cathbad foretold?
Och, Eilèin nam Gàidheal, ‘s gann gun rugadh tu ‘n uairAlas, O Helen of the Gaels, hardly were you born
Gun d’ dh’aithris Cathbhadh ‘n targradh: bhitheadh tusaWhen Cathbad reported the prophecy: you would be
‘Nad nighean fhèin a b’ mhaisich’ uile h-ÈireannThe very fairest daughter of all of Ireland
Ach rachadh rìghrean ‘s tighearnan ri cogadhBut kings and lords would go to war
Air do shon, dhòirteadh mòran fhuil air do shon,Because of you, much blood would be spilt because of you,
Is sparrtadh an triùir ghaisgeach Ultach as fheàrrAnd the three best warriors of Ulster would be forced
A-steach do fògradh air do sgàth, air do shon…!Into exile for your sake, because of you…!
Is dh’fhaochainn na Laoich Chraoibh Ruaidh d’athair, ‘n fìlidhAnd the Red Branch Warriors urged your father, the storyteller
An Rìghre Conchobhar mac Neasa ‘n Ulaidh,Of the King Conchobhar mac Neasa of Ulster,
Gad mharbhadh aig breith, ach dhearg-bhrosnaich ‘n t-aithris To kill you at birth, but the report of your beauty
Do mhaise ‘n Rìgh, a thòisich ‘dhealbhadh oirres’…Aroused the King, who began planning on you
‘Nad nighneag, thug Rìgh thu ri Leabharcham,Just a maiden-child, a King gave you to gentle Lavarcham,
Do mhuime dhìleas dh’àraicheadh tu ‘n caistealLoyal nurse who raised you in a remote
Cèin le ban-òglaich eil’ air falbh às anCastle with other maidservants away from the
Sùil fhir eil’ gus an ruigeadh tu ‘n aois phòsaidh…Eye of other men until you reached marriageable age…
Gu dearbh, dh’fhàsadh tu chun ainnir mhaiseachIndeed, you grew into a fair albeit lonely
Ach uaigneach, bhàn ‘s nan sùilean liath-uaineMaiden, brighthaired and of green-grey eyes
‘S nam gruaidhean luis-mhòir. Thadhail ‘n Rìgh ‘s bh’ laghachAnd cheeks of foxglove. The King visited and was kind
Gu leòr, ach bh’ e ‘nad bhodach liath preasach…Enough, but he was a wrinkled grey-haired old man…
An uair gun cunnaic thu gun d’ chasgair d’oid’ laoghWhen you saw that your foster father had slaughtered a calf
Air latha Geamhraidh, thùirling fitheach air anOn a Winter’s day, a raven descended on the
Sneachd’ ithe ‘n sneachd ùr fuilteach, ‘s leig thu osna;Snow to eat the newly bloodied snow, and you sighed;
Bu mhiann leat fear dubh snuaidh gile ‘s ruitich’…You desired a raven-haired man of white and rosy complexion.

An aisling, bha thu air an òigear bòidheachIn a dream, you had seen this comely young man
Seo fhaicinn, fuilt an fhithich, snuaidh sneachda ghlain ghil,Of raven hair, of complexion of pure white snow,
Is gruaidhean ‘s bilean cho dearg ri fuil, ‘n tarbhAnd cheeks and lips as red as blood, that
Òg tapaidh fìnealta neo-eagalach sin…Fine, fearless, heroic young bull…
Ge b’oillt le Leabharcham, cha b’urrainn dhi casgAlthough Lavarcham was horrified, she could not stop
Fhèin, oir bha cus ghràidh aice ort gad thoirt riHerself, for she loved you too much to give you to
Rìgh chrosda aosda; thuirt i gun d’ cho-fhreagairA cross, aged King; she said that the description
An tuairisgeul ri Naoise, ‘na mhac Uisneach.Matched Naoise, a son of Uisneach.
An dealbh-chunntais Naoise, ‘na mhac Uisneach,The description of Naoise, a son of Uisneach,
Bha e ‘nad laoch a b’ gaisgeil’, a b’ fheàrr Ulaidh,He was the bravest, finest warrior of Ulster,
Bha e ‘s a dhithis bhràthair dian-dìleasHe and his two fiercely loyal brothers were
‘Nam blàthan fhèin a b’ uaisle ‘n uile Èirinn…The very finest flowers in all of Ireland…
Ged dhiùlt a’ bhanaltram do ghuidh’ air toiseachd,Although the nurse refused your begging at first,
Bha fios aig Leabharcham gun dh’fheumadh gèilleadh,Lavarcham knew that she would have to yield,
Gun bitheadh e ceàrr a thoirt rìbhinn mhaiseachThat it would be wrong to give a fair maid
Còig bliadhna deug a dh’aois do Rìgh aosda…Fifteen years of age to an aged King…
Ghabh Leabharcham thu ris gun fhiosda, chualaLavarcham took you to him secretly, you heard
Thu Naoise ‘seinn gu binn le chlàrsach, ‘suidheNaoise singing sweetly with his harp, sitting
Fo uinnseann mhòr. Fo gheas leis, mhothaich thu àghUnder a great ash tree. Enchanted by him, you felt a joy
Nach d’ mhothaich thu a-riamh, ‘s chunnaic e thu…!That you had never felt, and he saw you…!
Is tharraing sibhse às a chèil’ gu cridheil…And you heartily teased each other…
Ged bh’ e fo gheas leat cuideachd, le do thuigseAlthough he, too, was smitten with you, with your intellect
Is d’ionracas ‘s do ghlaine cho math ri d’ mhais’,And your honesty and purity as well as your fair form,
Bha fios aig Naoise gun do bhean thu dhan Rìgh.Naoise knew that you belonged to the King.
Bha fios aig Naoise gun do bhean thu dhan Rìgh,Naoise knew that you belonged to the King,
Ach dhearbh thu air do spèis, dian nach buBut you convinced him of your affection, vehement that you
Mhath leat an Rìgh sean, crosda, gun do dh’iarrDisliked the old, irritable King, that you wanted
Thu esan, ‘na laoch bòidheach òg is tapaidh…! Him, a handsome and heroic young warrior…!
A’ tarraing às gum bitheadh cluasan fhanaid’Teasing him that he would have ears of
Is nàire aigesan nam fàgadh esanMockery and shame if he would leave
Thu, rinn sibh gàire còmhl’ ann an dlùth-ghabhail,You, you both laughed together in an embrace,
Is dh’earb thu ‘n gabhail ris grad, làn a bhràithrean…!And you earned the quick, full acceptance of his brothers…!
Bha ‘n Rìgh air bhàinidh, ‘cur an airm thar Èirinn.The King was furious, sending the army across Ireland.
Cheil Naoise ‘gus a bhràithrean, Ardán ‘s Ainnle,Naoise and his brothers, Ardán and Ainnle, hid
Thu ann an dùmhlachd oidhcheil ‘s theich sibh ‘n UladhYou in a night-time throng and all of you fled Ulster
Dhan dh’Alba, far an cunnaic an rìgh d’àilleachd…To Scotland, where their king saw your fairness…
Bu mhiann leis thu ‘s thòisich e ‘thoirt obairHe desired you and he began to give tasks
Gun d’ dh’fhàs nas cunnartaich’ ri Naoise, Ardán,That grew more dangerous to Naoise, Ardán, and Ainnle
Is Ainnle mus thuig iad a dhroch-rùn; theich sibhseBefore they understood his bad intentions; all of you fled
Ri eilean fasgach ‘s pailt a’ bhìdh’, neo-bhuairte…To an island, sheltered and abundant of food, untroubled.
Bha stuam’ ach son’ a’ bheatha; bha gràdh agadLife was modest but happy; you loved
Air Ardán ‘s Ainnle mar do bràithrean fhèin ‘s ghabhArdán and Ainnle like your own brothers and
Thu ‘s Naoise barrachd ghràidh air ‘chèile gach làYou and Naoise fell more in love with each other each day
Car na còig bliadhnaichean gun d’ chaith sibh ann…For the five years that you all spent there…
Ri Naoise ‘gus riut, rugadh mac is nighean,To Naoise and you, a son and a daughter were born,
Air àrach leis an Dia Manannan MacFostered by the God Manannan son of
Lir anns an Eamhain Abhlach, le d’ mhac ‘na laochLir in Emain Abhlach, with your son a warrior
‘S do nighean ‘na baintighearna na Tìr’ nan Òg…And your daughter a lady of Tír nan Óg…
Air bhàinidh gun do chaill e thu ‘s làn dhìoghaltais,Furious that he lost you and full of vengeance,
Mheall Conchobhar an Tighearn’ Fearghus mac Ròich,Conchobhar tricked the Lord Fergus mac Róich,
As urramaich’, ‘s a dhith’s mhac gad ath-bhuidhinnMost honorable, and his two sons to retrieve you
Is na mic Uisneach, gèilleadh ‘n iochd gum briseadh…And the sons of Uisneach, a vow of mercy that he’d break.
Chreid Fearghus Conchobhar, gun cùmadh e ghèilleadhFergus believed Conchobhar, that he would keep his promise
Iochd. Bheireadh e sibh dhachaigh ris an dh’UladhOf clemency. He would bear you home to Ulster
Le dhith’s mhac, Illian Fionn is Buinne Ruadh Cruaidh.With his two sons, Illian the Brighthaired and Buinne the Ruthless Red.
Cuir na mic Uisneach fàilte àghach orra…!The sons of Uisneach welcomed them joyously…!
Ged bha do chèil’ ‘s a bhràithrean sulchair fhaicinnAlthough your husband and his brothers were overjoyed to see
Ur càirdean dìls’, bh’ an taibhsearachd fhèin agad;Your loyal friends, you had the Second Sight itself;
Bha fios ceart agad air na thachaireadh dhuibh;You knew exactly what would happen to all of you;
Chan earbtadh Conchobhar, leat no le d’ chèile…Conchobhar could not be trusted, with you or your husband.
Ged thagair ‘s ghuidh thu, cha tug iad feart airAlthough you pleaded and begged, they did not heed
Do rabhadh. Cha tug na fir roghainn dhut, chaidhYour warning. The men gave you no choice, you went
Gu h-aindeonach thu air an long dhan dh’Uladh,Unwillingly on the ship to Ulster,
Oir bhruidhinn dleasdanas na b’ fharamaiche…For obligation spoke more loudly…
Dh’ath-aithris thu gu h-èiginneach do thagradh;You repeated desperately your prediction;
Ged cha robh Naoise ‘dir ‘na amadan ‘s dh’fheuchAlthough Naoise was not at all a fool and he
E ‘thoirt cofhurtachd riut, phlàigh cianalasTried to comfort you, homesickness and
‘S an dleasdanas na fir. Dh’an-earb thu ur dàn…Obligation plagued the men. You despaired your shared fate…
Dh’fhàth-fèith ‘n Rìgh Fearghus le co-fhealltair uasalThe King waylaid Fergus with a noble conspirator
Air alt ‘s nach b’urrainn e ur dìon ‘san tilleadh So that he could not protect you in the return
Dhan dh’Eamhain Mhacha. Thug ur càirdean gaisgeachTo Emhain Mhacha. Your warrior friends welcomed
Am fàilte ‘s cairtealan airson na h-oidhche…You and gave you lodgings for the night…
Cha b’urrainn Fearghus diùltadh tairgse chuirmeFergus could not refuse an offer of a feast
Le triathan gun cunnart thàmailt’ mòire… By lords without the risk of great scandal…
Dh’fheuch thu ‘thoirt rabhadh ris na fir gum bitheadhYou tried to warn the men that the night
An oidhch’ na b’ sàbhailte sa’ chaisteal fhèin dhuibh…Would be safer in the castle itself to you…
An-amharasach air Naoise ‘s air do mhaise,Distrustful of Naoise and of your fairness,
Chuir Conchobhar gnù Leabharcham gad fhaicinn,Sullen Conchobhar sent Lavarcham to see you,
Fo uallach aithris dha do mhaise. ‘FeuchainnUnder orders to report to him of your fairness. Trying
Gad dhìon, thuirt i gun d’ mhill beatha chruaidh thu…To protect you, she said that hard living had ruined you…
An-amharasach air Leabharcham ‘s do mhaise,Distrustful of Lavarcham and of your fairness,
Chuir Conchobhar neach-brathaidh; chunnaic thu eConchobhar sent a spy; you saw him
‘S chuir Naoise às a shùil; leth-shùileach, dh’aithrisAnd Naoise put out his eye; one-eyed, he reported
E gun robh mhaiseach thu ‘s gum b’fhiach doilleThat you were so fair and that blindness was worth it…
An latha màireach, greasadh na Mic UisneachThe next morning, the Sons of Uisneach were hastened
Dham mheadhan chùirt-lios’ mhòir ‘s bha d’ làmhan cheangailt’To the middle of a great courtyard and your hands were tied
Fad ‘s gun d’ chàin Conchobhar am brathadh, ‘toirt dhaWhile Conchobhar denounced their betrayal, ordering
Na Laoich an Chraoibh Ruaidh àithne ionnsaigh’ orra…The Red Branch Warriors to attack them…
Ged shabaid na Mic Uisneach gu treun ‘s dh’fheuch naAlthough the Sons of Uisneach fought valiantly and the sons
Mic Fhearghuis fhèin gan cobhradh, shluig Laoich do ghaolOf Fergus himself tried to help, Warriors engulfed your love
‘S do chàirdean. Mharbh ceannard an airm, EòghanAnd your friends. A leader of the army, Eòghan Mac
Mac Dùrthachd, Naoise, d’ chèile, le sleagh tron chùl…Dùrthachd, slew your husband Naoise with a spear through his back.
Ràn thu an cràdh ‘s oillt aig an sealladh fad ‘s gunYou screamed in anguish and horror at the sight as
Do ràinig Fearghus is arm aig an tiotaFergus and his army arrived at that
Sin, lorg e na Mic Uisneach air am mortadhMoment, he found the Sons of Uisneach murdered
Le aon mhic ‘s bh’ a mhac eil’ air chur fo tàmailt…With one of his sons and his other son disgraced…
Spreadh Fearghus ann am bàinidh ‘s dòrainn; mheall anFergus exploded in rage and anguish; the King
Rìgh e ‘s bhris e an gèilleadh gun d’rinn e dha. Deceived him and broke the promise that he’d made to him.
Mhort Fearghus is arm mòran laoich, a’ gabhailFergus and his army massacred many warriors, including
‘Steach mac de Chonchobhair, mus theich iad Uladh…A son of Conchobhar, before they fled Ulster…
Theich Fearghus is arm ris a’ Chonnacht far an Fergus and his men escaped to Connacht where
Thug Ailill ‘s Medb, an Rìgh ‘s a’ Bhan-rìgh, fàilt’ dhaibh ‘sAilill and Maebh, the King and Queen, welcomed them and
Stiùir Fearghus iad ris a’ bhlàr an aghaidh ‘nFergus led them to battle against the
Rìgh Conchobhar air sgrios, a rìoghachd mhillte…Ruined King Conchobhar, his kingdom destroyed…
Bh’ a dhuais aig Conchobhar, ach cha do mheal eConchobhar had his prize, but he never
Do chonaltradh a-riamh; dhiùlt thu e guEnjoyed your company; you always coldly
Fuar daonnan, is car bliadhn’ ‘s aon là shuidh ‘s chaoinRefused him, and for a year and a day you sat and wept,
Thu, truagh sa’ chiomachas fhir gum bu fhuath leat…Miserable in the captivity of a man you loathed…
Aon latha, dh’fhoighnich Conchobhar uat, “Dè ‘th’ anOne day, Conchobhar inquired of you, “What is it
Rud air a bheil gràin agad as mò ‘san domhan?”That you hate most in the world?”
Diùlt thu ga shealladh ‘s dh’fhreagair, “Tha gràin agamYou refused to look at him and answered, “I hate
Oirbh ‘s air a’ bheist sin Eòghan a mhort mo ghràdh…!”You and that beast Eòghan who murdered my love…!”
Air bhàinidh, shònraich Conchobhar gad chur ris,Furious, Conchobhar decided to send you to him,
Ri Eòghan, car aon bliadhna. Sa’ charbadTo Eòghan, for one year. In the chariot
Sgeig e thu, “cuiridh sinn thu eadarainneHe taunted you, “we will send you between us
Mar caora eadar dithis reithe!” Chnac thu. Like a ewe between two rams!” You snapped.
A-mach nam bàbhan Eamhain Mhacha, ràn thuOutside the ramparts of Emain Macha, you screamed
An corraich ‘s dòrainn ‘s thilg thu fhèin on charbad.In rage and anguish and you threw yourself from the chariot.
Bhuail do cheann clach, gad mharbhadh air an làrachYour head hit a rock, killing you on the site
Is dh’fhosgail ‘s ghabh an tìr do mharbhan truagh… And the land opened and accepted your poor body…
Chinn iubhar mòr à d’uaigh, a’ sgaoileadh nan geug A great yew grew from your grave, spreading its branches
Gus an do ràinig iad geugan iubhairUntil they reached branches of a yew
Gun do chinn on uaigh Naoise, ‘mach nam bàbhan,That grew from Naoise’s grave, outside the ramparts,
Na geugan fhèin nan craobhan a’ dlùth-ghabhail…The very branches of the trees embracing…

Air ghoid air falbh à do theaghlach ‘nad phàist’,Stolen away from your family as an infant,
Air àrach ann an dìomhaireachd cho uaigneachRaised in a secrecy so lonesome
A bhith air phòsadh do rìgh gum robh suarachTo be married to a king who cared not
Mu ‘n fàisneachd uabhasaich air d’ cheann cho soineant’…About the dire prophecy on your head so innocent…
‘Nad nighneag, chaill thu ‘n conaltradh le d’ theaghlach,As a little daughter, you lost contact with your family,
‘Nad mhàthair òig, chaill thu ‘n conaltradh le do chlann,As a young mother, you lost contact with your children,
‘Nad òg-bhean, chaill thu d’ chèile ‘gus a bhràithrean,As a young wife, you lost your husband and his brothers,
Is uil’ airson an rìghre drùisich ghroid shin…And all because of the lecherous, corrupt old king…
Ghabh rìgh thu à do theaghlach, air bheò-ghlacadhA king took you from your family, obsessed
Le maise dh’iarr e a shealbhachadh ‘n sannt,With a beauty that he wanted to possess in greed,
Cha tug e roghainn dhut an suidheachadh gunHe gave you no choice in a situation that
Robh thar do smachd, chan ach aon nighean ‘bh’innte…Was beyond your control, you were but one young woman…

An d’ dh’iarr thu dàn air chur ort aig do bhreith…?Did you want a destiny that was placed on you at your birth…?
Gabh fois, oir tha thu ‘s Naoise còmhla gu brath…Rest, for you and Naoise are together forever…

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This entry was posted in Art, Gaelic, Human Rights, Injustice, Irish mythology, Legends, Literature, Poetry, Women's Rights, Women's studies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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