Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Great Blasket Islands

The Great Blasket Islands (mp3)

Visits long ago
to the Blasket Islands,
to untouched areas
on the Dingle peninsula
came to mind
on this sleet winter’s eve.

The peninsula,
nestled in heather mountains.
The coastline,
tongues of lonely white sand.
waved rocks,
drenched in blue mussels
tide pools,
alive with shrimps and periwinkles
A sea-salted life,
unspoiled and free.

Today, only marine life remains,
but I still hear the music,
our native language,
the voices of Seanchaí,
the ballads, seanόs,
Peig Sayers
who shaped my school years.
Her renditions of island life,
mad piseόgs,
handed down
from generation to generation.

Stories of
islanders huddled together,
under thatch.
Open turf fires
cooking pot on a hook.
The sweet air wafting
from clay pipe tobacco.
A pinch of snuff
sniffed from a silver box.
Nursing a glass
of neat Poitín, uisce beatha,
The strong smell of tweeds,
and geansaí báinín.

I think of times lost,
changed forever.
Of an island life
where only cottage ruins remain
and goats roam free.
An Blascaod Mór
my history, my heritage.

* Poitín and uisce beatha = water of life in gaelic, very strong alcohol made from potatoes.
* Seanos = gaelic for storytellers who sing without music.
* geansai bainin = knitted woolen sweaters, aran island, thick sheeps wool in cream with lots of patterns.
* piseόgs, = superstitions in gaelic.


  1. Another beautiful poem Maire. This is rich in description and history. I love it. Rachael

  2. Another beautiful poem Maire rich in lovely images of this beautiful place. You have done it great justice here. Rachael

  3. Rachael,
    Thank you, you are very good to take the time to visit. M x