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Cuirt an Mhean Oiche - by Brian Merriman (1780): A Translation by Noel Fahy 1998

Cuirt an Mhean Oiche - by Brian Merriman (1780): A Translation by Noel Fahy 1998

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Published by Paul V. Cassidy
This translation of the famous Irish bawdy ballad - Cuirt an Mhean Oiche - is by Noel Fahy, a Boston Irish Gaelgoir . I've just mailed him to ask permission to SCRIBD the entire contents of the work which is also available at www.showhouse.com A friend called round asking me to source a copy so I went onto the web and put the site into this pdf booklet. Something of a Merriman scholastic type himself he left soon after to pour over it. The large print was a great help as far as his failing eye-sight was concerned and the same goes for more of us.
There's little point me coming on the scholar after Mr. Fahy's grand achievement except to say context is everything and that a merry Irish man who upon falling into a day-dream only to be chastened by a Fairy Queen 'querying', his disinterest in courting would certainly not go unsrcutinised in our own gay times. Ah sure there's many a reason for that disinclination bar the one the likes of David Norris and Peter Thatchel might conspire. Nonetheless I dare say the Irish have been a priest ridden nation for more years than they might care to remember, matriarchal ambition and 'Hell hath no fury', apart. All that aside the opening description of the lake scene is so fine I for one can entirely identify with the young Merriman's disinterest in the affairs of the world and it brings to my mind the defence of our lakes and waterbodies this time from the effects of the equally dubious pursuit of 'Fracking'. How time never changes but then why ought it sure isn't it the same wee carrot distracting the donkey all along.
But just by way of getting it straight 'Fracking' is short for Hydraulic Fracturing which is the new drilling technique for accessing gasses from deep shales; and in Ireland's case two licenses have been granted to explore the Lough Allen Basin. Now that's the opposite end of the Shannon to the beautiful Lough Graney in Clare where the bold Brian Merriman dozed off of a fine summers day in 1780. 'The Life of Brian', is no worse than 'The Life of Reilly', I suppose but are they related? I'll leave it to Peter Thacthell to prove the connection.
Nonetheless here we are faced with all sorts of modern predicaments and what to do but to rise to them for if not it will simply fall on someone else to do so. Which is all by way of saying it's great to have the opportunity to join up some very distant and unrelated dots in this very merry and haphazard way binding the noble Merriman discourse to our concerns about Fracking as expressed on my aptly titled 'No Fracking Ireland', page. 'No fracking way', you say but check the Facebook link at the bottom of this text anyway.
Well that's it what can I say except enjoy reading this Irish literary time piece and the wonderful commentary and glossary. Also visit the site www.showhouse.com which has a few more links than I've included here. I've blocked people from downloading this document pending permission from the author so for now it's read and print only which is no more nor less than you can do on the showhouse site.
A woman, as Merriman ponders is two things at once, both a queen and a crone, as indeed is every aspect of life. I guess it's a ying-yang thing or a depending on which side of the bed you might have fallen out of thang. Nonetheless even a fools errand is an entertaining thing. I love the extraordinary in the ordinary beauty of Ireland. A friend commented recently that the Mayo flag - which is Red and Green - ought really be our national flag. And you know I agree because whenever the land wasn't feeding us it seems we were feeding it; proving there's no such thing as a free nap no mind a free lunch.
And please don't forget to befriend the 'No Fracking Ireland', Facebook site or pretty soon there'll be nowhere left worth a frick: http://www.facebook.com/pages/No-Fracking-Ireland/217392378284498
This translation of the famous Irish bawdy ballad - Cuirt an Mhean Oiche - is by Noel Fahy, a Boston Irish Gaelgoir . I've just mailed him to ask permission to SCRIBD the entire contents of the work which is also available at www.showhouse.com A friend called round asking me to source a copy so I went onto the web and put the site into this pdf booklet. Something of a Merriman scholastic type himself he left soon after to pour over it. The large print was a great help as far as his failing eye-sight was concerned and the same goes for more of us.
There's little point me coming on the scholar after Mr. Fahy's grand achievement except to say context is everything and that a merry Irish man who upon falling into a day-dream only to be chastened by a Fairy Queen 'querying', his disinterest in courting would certainly not go unsrcutinised in our own gay times. Ah sure there's many a reason for that disinclination bar the one the likes of David Norris and Peter Thatchel might conspire. Nonetheless I dare say the Irish have been a priest ridden nation for more years than they might care to remember, matriarchal ambition and 'Hell hath no fury', apart. All that aside the opening description of the lake scene is so fine I for one can entirely identify with the young Merriman's disinterest in the affairs of the world and it brings to my mind the defence of our lakes and waterbodies this time from the effects of the equally dubious pursuit of 'Fracking'. How time never changes but then why ought it sure isn't it the same wee carrot distracting the donkey all along.
But just by way of getting it straight 'Fracking' is short for Hydraulic Fracturing which is the new drilling technique for accessing gasses from deep shales; and in Ireland's case two licenses have been granted to explore the Lough Allen Basin. Now that's the opposite end of the Shannon to the beautiful Lough Graney in Clare where the bold Brian Merriman dozed off of a fine summers day in 1780. 'The Life of Brian', is no worse than 'The Life of Reilly', I suppose but are they related? I'll leave it to Peter Thacthell to prove the connection.
Nonetheless here we are faced with all sorts of modern predicaments and what to do but to rise to them for if not it will simply fall on someone else to do so. Which is all by way of saying it's great to have the opportunity to join up some very distant and unrelated dots in this very merry and haphazard way binding the noble Merriman discourse to our concerns about Fracking as expressed on my aptly titled 'No Fracking Ireland', page. 'No fracking way', you say but check the Facebook link at the bottom of this text anyway.
Well that's it what can I say except enjoy reading this Irish literary time piece and the wonderful commentary and glossary. Also visit the site www.showhouse.com which has a few more links than I've included here. I've blocked people from downloading this document pending permission from the author so for now it's read and print only which is no more nor less than you can do on the showhouse site.
A woman, as Merriman ponders is two things at once, both a queen and a crone, as indeed is every aspect of life. I guess it's a ying-yang thing or a depending on which side of the bed you might have fallen out of thang. Nonetheless even a fools errand is an entertaining thing. I love the extraordinary in the ordinary beauty of Ireland. A friend commented recently that the Mayo flag - which is Red and Green - ought really be our national flag. And you know I agree because whenever the land wasn't feeding us it seems we were feeding it; proving there's no such thing as a free nap no mind a free lunch.
And please don't forget to befriend the 'No Fracking Ireland', Facebook site or pretty soon there'll be nowhere left worth a frick: http://www.facebook.com/pages/No-Fracking-Ireland/217392378284498

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Published by: Paul V. Cassidy on Jun 18, 2011
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02/13/2013

 
Cúirt an Mheán Oíche--Gluais
Cuirt an Mheán Oíche—The Midnight Court
le/by
Brian Merriman
The Life of Brian
 
We do not know very much about the life of Brian Merriman (or Bryan Merryman, as heis commonly referred to in earlier sources—seemingly, the current spelling becamecommonplace because of the lack of a native “y” in Irish).It is thought that he was born around 1747 in eastern Co. Clare. There is speculation thathe was born on the wrong side of the blanket, the illegitimate son of a local squire. Somesee in the paean to bastardry that make’s up a considerable part of the old man’s speech inthe poem evidence of Brian’s feelings about his own origins. It is also suggested that thisis where his anglicized name comes from. Although in some later publications, his name isgaelicized to Brian Mac Giolla Meidhre, there is no evidence that he went by anythingother than Merriman in his own lifetime.By 1770, he was in the poverty-stricken and, at the time, backward east-county village of Feakle where he served as a schoolteacher. He was also a small farmer with a holding of twenty acres. Seemingly, he was at least an adequate farmer since there is a record of hishaving won two prizes from the Royal Dublin Society for his flax crop.There was no regular schoolhouse in Feakle until 1837 and the arrangements prior to thatwere pretty ad hoc. In 1825, for instance, there were thirteen “schools” in the parish but adescription of the arrangements from a report that year of the Commissioners onEducation in Ireland shows the parlousness of the system, if such it can be called.Four of the so-called schools met in chapels and two in the kitchen of the teacher’sdwelling. Even though the latter were probably nothing to write home about, they werehopefully better than the pitiful setup for the remaining seven, which were said to meet in:
q
 
the mistress’s dwelling—an excavation in a broad bank of earth;
q
 
a barn—a wretched hovel;
q
 
a wretched cabin or cattle shed;
q
 
a temporary cabin;
http://www.showhouse.com/merriman.html (1 of 5)19/06/2011 00:36
 
Cúirt an Mheán Oíche--Gluais
q
 
a very wretched cabin;
q
 
a waste barn;
q
 
a barn.Three schools were reported to have nineteen, twenty and twenty-nine pupils, respectively,but each of the other ten had between 51 and 128 attendees (for a total of 800), astonishingnumbers given the nature of the establishments. If Merriman himself is indicative of eventhe most able products of such schools—and where else would he have gotten hiseducation—we can only marvel at the ability to impart, and the desire to imbibe,knowledge in such unpromising surroundings. It is clear that, however he acquired it,Merriman had an acquaintance with contemporary English and European literature andthought.In his description of Brian’s life as an introduction to his translation of the Cúirt, RiseárdÓ Foghlú describes the hard life of the teacher:“Bhí an saol crua go leor ar mhúinteoirí scoile i dTuamhumhainle linn Bhriain agus tamall ina dhiaidh sin: ba chaol an tuarastaldo bhí ag dul dóibh ó dhaltaí bochta na háite, i dtreo go mbíodh aran máistir bannaí, dintiúirí, srl., do scríobh do dhaoine chun curlena fháltas, agus is minic do b’éigin don bhfear bocht ramhanagus sluasad do tharraingt chuige chun réal do thuilleamh.”
(Schoolteachers’ lives in Thomond were quite difficult in Brian’s time andfor a while thereafter: they got little in remuneration from the poor childrenof the area and they had to supplement their income by preparing legaldocuments for the people, and often the poor teacher had to take shovel orspade in hand to earn the odd sixpence.)
 As is made abundantly clear in the final section of Cúirt an Mheán Oíche, Merriman didnot marry until later in life and certainly not until after he had authored his famous work.It is likely that he married in the early 1790s—his first child, a daughter named Caitlín(Kathleen), was born in 1795. He had one other child, another daughter, Máire (Mary).His wife, whose name was Cit (Kit), was born in 1767. She was also known as Cit anMhaighisteara (the master’s Kit) attesting to Brian’s occupation. And she was laterremembered as a fine, handsome, trim woman (bean bhreá dhathúil mhaiseach).At some stage, Brian Merriman had moved from rural Clare to Limerick City where hecontinued to eke out a seemingly meager existence as a teacher. He died suddenly there on
http://www.showhouse.com/merriman.html (2 of 5)19/06/2011 00:36
 
Cúirt an Mheán Oíche--Gluais
July 27, 1805 as an entry in the “General Advertiser and Limerick Gazette” of Monday,29th July, 1795 noted:“Died.—On Saturday morning, in Old Clare-street, after a fewhours’ illness, Mr. Bryan Merryman, teacher of Mathematics,etc.”A few days later, on Thursday, a death notice appeared in Faulkner’s “Dublin Journal”:“At Limerick, after a few hours illness, Mr. Bryan Merryman,teacher of mathematics.”Cúirt an Mheán Oíche is essentially his sole work; only two other short lyrics areattributed to him. He composed it in 1780 and it is the great mystery of his life why he didnot follow up on this opus in the twenty-five years of life remaining to him. We simply donot know the answer to that question. Daniel Corkery asked in “The Hidden Ireland”:“Was it the poet’s moving into Limerick City caused the havoc?”—casting an aspersionon that city three quarters of a century before Frank McCourt did it at book length.Frank O’Connor, in the introduction to his translation of the poem, has similar views of the benighted city:"There is no tablet in Clare Street to mark where BryanMerryman, the author of the Midnight Court died, nor is thereever likely to be, for Limerick has a reputation for piety."But, then, O'Connor casts a no less jaundiced eye on Clare:"Merryman was born about the middle of the eighteenth centuryin a part of Ireland which then must have been as barbarous asany in Europe—it isn’t exactly what one would call civilisedtoday."Merriman’s poem is daring and explicit but that does not seem to have caused its authorthe type of grief that was visited on Irish authors in later years. In his introduction to the1912 edition of the work, Piaras Béaslaí notes:“The poem at once attained popularity. Its freedom from stilted
http://www.showhouse.com/merriman.html (3 of 5)19/06/2011 00:36

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