Anach Cuain

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  • Teideal (Title): Anach Cuain.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 863808.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): none.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): Irish.
  • Catagóir (Category): song.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Fredric Lieberman.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): unavailable.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Brooklyn, New York, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): workshop.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): Eileen Clohessy.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Má fháighimse sláinte is fada a bheas tráchtadh
ar an méid a báthadh ó Anach Cuain.
Mo thrua amáireach gach athair a’s máthair,
ó, bean a’s páiste atá ag sileadh súl.
A Rí na nGrásta a cheap neamh a’s párthas,
a Dhia, cér chás dúinn beirt nó triúr,
Ach lá chomh breá leis, gan gaoth ná báisteach,
ó, lán an bháid a scuabadh ar siúl.

Nár mhór an t-ionach os comhair na ndaoine
iad a fheiceáil sínte ar chúl a gcinn
Screadach is caoineadh a scanródh daoine,
bhí gruaig dá cíoradh is an chreach dá roinnt.
Bhí buachaillí óga ann, ag tigheacht don fhómhar,
dhá síneadh ar chróchair ‘s dhá dtabhairt go cill;
Ba é gléas a bpósta a bhí dhá dtórramh,
ach a Rí na Glóire, nár mhór an feall.

Baile Cláir a bhí in aice láime
Níor lig an t-ádh dhóibh a dhul aníos;
Bhí an bás chomh láidir, níor thug sé cairde
d’aon mhac máthar dár rugadh riamh;
Bhris an bád a’s báthadh na daoine,
scaip na caoirigh anonn sa snámh,
A Dhia, nach ansin a bhí an feall mór déanta
ar aon fhear déag a’s ochtar mná.

Ansiúd Dé hAoine ‘sea chluinfeá an caoineadh
ag teacht gach taobh dhíot a’s ag greadadh bos
A’s an lá thar oíche trom tuirseadh claoíte
gan ceo le déanamh ach ag síneadh corp.
A Dhia ‘s a Chríost a d’fhulaing íobairt
a cheannaigh go fírinneach an bocht ‘s an nocht
Go párrthas naofa go dtugair saor leat
gach créatúr díobh dhár thit faoin lot.

Loscadh sléibhe agus scalladh cléibhe
ar an áit ar éagadar is milleán crua;
Is iomaí créatúr a d’fhág sé ag géarghol,
ag gol ‘s ag éagaoin gach maidin Luain;
Ní díobháil eolais a chuir dá dtreo iad
ach mí-ádh mór a bhí sa gCaisleán Nua.
Is é críochnú m’amhráin gur báthadh mórán
a d’fhág ábhar dóláis in Anach Cuain.

Translation

If I am spared I’ll be long telling
Of the number drowned out of Annaghdown.
My pity tomorrow for the fathers and mothers,
women and children who are weeping.
Oh King of graces, who created heaven and paradise,
Oh God, two or three would have been bad enough –
But such a fine day, without wind or rain,
To sweep away a whole boat-ful!

Wasn’t it a wonder for the people
To see them stretched out there;
Screeching and wailing that would terrify people,
Tearing of hair and grief being shared.
There were young boys there, for the coming harvest,
Being laid out on biers and taken to the graveyard;
Their wedding clothes were those they were waked in.
Oh King of Glory, what a great pity.

Claregalway was near at hand,
But fate wouldn’t let them come up;
Death was so strong that it gave no credit
To any mother’s son who was ever born.
The boat broke apart and the people were drowned;
The sheep were scattered about in the water.
Oh God, wasn’t that the great tragedy
For eleven men and eight women!

There on Friday you could hear the lamentation
From all sides, and the beating of hands,
And all that day and weary night spent
With nothing to do but lay out the dead.
Oh God, and Christ who endured sacrifice,
Who truly bought the poor and naked,
Take with you to holy paradise
All of those creatures whose lot fell on this day.

May the mountains burn, may hearts be tormented,
May hard destruction befall the place where they died!
For many a creature has been left lamenting,
Crying and keeing every Monday morning.
It wasn’t lack of seamanship that was the cause,
But the great ill-luck that was in Newcastle.
The end of my song is this: that many were drowned,
Which left food for sorrow in Annaghdown.

Notes

On Thursday 4 September 1828, the Connaught Journal carried following notice:

It is with unaffected sorrow we have to record a most distressing circumstance which took place this day, by which it is supposed that at least 19 unhappy fellow creatures perished. An old row boat in a rotten and leaky condition, started from Annaghdown, early in the morning, a distance from Galway, up Lough Corrib, of about eight miles, having it is calculated, about 31 persons on board, who were coming to the fair in Galway; the boat and passengers proceeded without obstruction, until they arrived opposite Bushypark, within two miles of Galway, when she suddenly went down, and all on board perished, except twelve persons, who were fortunately rescued from their perilous situation by another boat.

Liam Clancy of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, who was a friend of Joe Heaney’s for years and largely responsible for getting him to settle in the United States, told Joe’s biographer, Liam Mac Con Iomaire, that this song in particular made a huge impression on him. ‘I owe a great debt to Joe. I got ‘Eanach Cuain’ from him, of course, and on the trip back from Carna, on his first visit home from America, that melody was haunting me. The tragedy of Eanach Cuain! I was thinking of Pádraig de Brún’s brilliant translation, and I married the two. I was the first to put those two together.’ (L. Mac Con Iomaire, Seosamh Ó hÉanaí: Nár fhágha mé bás choíche, Cló Iar-Chonnachta (2007), 289-90.)

The full text of this song, along with useful discussion of its composition, is given by Ciarán Ó Coigligh in his book Raiftearaí: Amhráin agus Dánta(An Clóchomhar, Dublin 1987), 134.