O Bruadair


Michael Hartnett

Translations from the Irish

Available in Paperback only



I pity the man who must witness the fate of himself . . .

The themes and tones of Michael Hartnett’s A Farewell to English (1975) harmonised so precisely with the anger and desperation of Daibhí O Bruadair (c.1623-1698) that they conferred on Hartnett the ‘right’ to translate his selected poems.

In this collection Michael Hartnett relays the complete scope of O Bruadair’s attitudes and subject matter. Sometimes lyrical, sometimes charged with spleen, the poems range from the epigrammatic to the prolix. They include laments, both personal and communal. ‘Death’s the theme of all my writing’ the death of specific patrons and learned men and, above all, of an entire national culture.

Michael Hartnett’s introduction admits his obsession with, in Peter Sirr’s description, the ‘laureate of disenchantment cast adrift in an Ireland he no longer recognised’. With his Haicéad and O Rathaille, O Bruadair completes the re-possession of a trilogy of essential Irish texts.

O Bruadair’s is a fascinatingly difficult poetry, richly eloquent, with a blend of the colloquial and a language classically poetic. Hartnett’s empathy seems total; he has succeeded in creating a ‘voice’ for O Bruadair that speaks to our own century . . . Hartnett succeeds often amazingly in keeping the sound and feeling of the original fiercely complicated work; his work [sic] and consonant chiming patterns work unobtrusively and accurately.

— John F. Deane, TLS

This is a remarkable book and will take its place among the fundamental documents for the study of Irish literature in either language. I cannot urge too strongly on all those interested in the evolution of modern Ireland the documentary as well as the literary importance of this work now made readily available to the general public for the first time in 300 years.

— Màire Mhac an tSaoi

Year Published: 1985
Details: 56pp
ISBN PBK: 978 0 904011 90 6

The Gallery Press