Art Mac Cumhaidh: Dánta le Tomás Ó Fiaich – Bláithín Mhic Cana

Tá sliocht á léamh ag Bláithín Mhic Cana ó pheann Thomáis Uí Fhiaich faoina cheantar dúchais in Ard Mhacha theas.

Gabh amach an bealach mór ó Dhún Dealgan ag tarraingt ar Ard Mhacha agus breathnaigh timpeall na tíre ar do thuras ó thuaidh. Ceantar álainn. Sliabh gCuilinn maorga mar a bheadh fathach mór gorm ina luí ag bun na spéire. Sliabh Breac ina sheasamh go dúshlánach stuacach ar d’aghaidh amach, amhail is dá mbeadh sé ag iarraidh an bhearna a chosaint romhat. Maigh Muirtheimhne ag síneadh amach ar gach taobh díot idir na cnocáin agus an mhuir.

Ceantar stairiúil. Tá taibhsí dhá mhíle bliain ar an bhóthar romhat- Cú Chulainn agus a chamán ina dhorn ag trial ar an mhacra in Eamhain Macha, Brian Bóraimhe á iompar chun na huaighe tar éis chath Chluain Tarbh, Aodh Rua Ó Domhnaill ag filleadh ó thuaidh ar éalú dó as Caisléan Bhaile Átha Cliath, Aodh Mór Ó Néill ar a thuras léanmhar ionsar an bhád bán I Rath Maoláin, Oilibhéar Beannaithe ag trial ar Óstán an Bhlíocaigh, an Rí Séamas ag tarraingt ar léigear Dhoire, Dean Swift ag deifriú go Cnoc an Mhargaidh. Insíonn gach comhartha bóthair a scéal féin – Fochairt agus Naomh Bríd, Urnaí agus uaigh Uí Dhoirnín, Glasdromainn agus Caisleán Uí Néill. Naoimh…….rithe……..laochra……..fílí……tóraithe.

Ó théann tú thar an teorainn ag Druim Bile, mar ar ghnách leis an Dall Mac Cuarta gloine a ól toigh Bheití Ní Mharcaigh, go dtosaíonn tú ag dreapadóireacht ar Shliabh Fuaid taobh thall den Bhaile Úr, tá tú I bparóiste an Chreagáin. Deich mile gan briseadh de pharóiste mór fairsing. Chomh mór sin go bhfuil sé roinnte ina dhá chuid ag an Eaglais Chaitliceach anois. Caithfidh tú dul míle ar chlé ón phríomhbhealach más mian leat an Creagán féin a aimsiú. Eaglais bheag sheascair chois na habhann agus reilig timpeall uirthi. Úrchill an Chreagáin.

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Bláithín Mhic Cána reads a piece written by Tomás Ó Fiaich about his native south Armagh.

Travel out the main road from Dundalk approaching Armagh and take in the countryside on your journey north. It’s a beautiful place. There is majestic Slieve Gullion almost like a large blue giant sleeping on the horizon. Slieve Brack standing defiantly behind you, ready to challenge any danger and protect the gap before it. Muirtheimhne Plain stretching out on all sides between hills and sea.

It’s an historic place. Ghosts of two thousand years have travelled this road before you, Cú Chulainn, with camán in fist returning to his comrades in Navan Fort, Brian Boru reverently carried to his resting place following the Battle of Clontarf, Red Hugh O’Donnell escaping north after his imprisonment in Dublin Castle, Hugh O’Neill taking his last agonizing journey before boarding the white ship in Rathmullen, Oliver Plunkett travelling to George Blyke’s Head Inn. King James approaching the Siege of Derry, Dean Swift hurrying to Market Hill. Every turn in the road has its own story – Faughart and St. Bridget, Urney and Ó Doirnín’s grave, Glasdrummond and O’Neill’s Castle. Saints…….kings……..heros……..poets…….outlaws.

From where the border is crossed at Drumbilla and where Dall Mac Cuarta would have had a glass in Betty Markey’s house, until the climb over Slieve Fuad on the other side of Newtown, you’re in the Creggan Parish. A large expansive parish of ten miles without a break. The parish is so big that it is now divided in two by the Catholic Church. Turn one mile left off the main road and you’ll locate Creggan itself. A small compact church nestled on the banks of a river with a graveyard embracing it, Úrchill an Chreagáin.

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