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Wednesday, January 14th, 2004, 10:26 PM
Folamh anocht Dún Chearmna
(Dun Cearmna is empty tonight)

This is a dramatic poem, written from the viewpoint of the famous queen, Gormfhlaith. She was the daughter of one high king (Flann Sionna, ard rí from 878-916) and wife of another (Niall Glúndubh, ard rí from 916?-919 --- her third husband). When he died fighting the Norse, legend has it that she lived and died in poverty and starvation. (History doesn't.) She was used as an exemplar of how quickly life can change, and it was popular to write "pityeful songs" from Gormfhlaith's point of view. This poem is part of a whole collection of such poems (the O'Gara MS).

Folamh anocht Dún Chearmna
do Ráith Teamhra is cúis bhaoghail;
méad uaigneasa an dúin dreachglain--
beart do bheartaibh an tsaoghail.

Ríoghradh fhial an dúin duasbhuig
ar nach bíodh uamhain foghla,
dá n-éis is truagh mar táimsi,
'sgan ann acht áite folmha.

Gearr go rabhad 'na n-uathadh,
Ráth Chruachan is Ráth Teamhra
gá beag dóibh so do robhadh? --
folamh anocht Dún Chearmna.

The Fort of Cearmna is empty tonight --
the movement of danger from the ringfort Tara;
great loneliness in the clean-faced fort--
the arrow planning your plight.

The generous fort of generous kings
that had no fear of plundering,
afterward is pitied like a ghost,
and without him there, it's just an empty place.

A corncrake in the deserted ones,
The ringfort Cruacha and the ringfort Tara --
do you need a little more warning?
Dún Chearmna is empty tonight.

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Wednesday, January 14th, 2004, 10:29 PM
"Dubhach sin, a dhú na ríogh"

(That gloom, oh, fort of the kings)

Dubhach sin, a dhúin na ríogh,
ní hiongnadh dhuit do dhith Néill;

dob annamh leat orchra ort,
dubhach sibh anocht dá éis.

Giodh dubhach ataoisi anocht,
dobudh tusa cnoc n gcliar;
dob annamh tusa leat féin
i n-aimsir Néill na Naoi nGiall.*

Gach flaitheas acht flaitheas Dé
a chaitheamh uile is é a chríoch;
an saoghal ní hadhbhar tnúidh,

dubhach sin, a dhúin na ríogh.

That gloom, oh fort of the kings,
is not strange considering your loss of Niall;
it is rare for you to be in decay--
you are gloomy tonight from all that.

It is gloomy beside you tonight,
it is hard, you hill of the learned;
it was rare for you to be all by yourself
in the time of Niall of the Nine Hostages.*

Each kingdom but the kingdom of God --
its territory will all be worn out.
The arrow's not desired by the
dwelling --
that gloom, fort of the kings.

* Néill na Naoi nGiall/Niall of the Nine Hostages: Not Gormfhlaith's dead husband. He was the ard rí of Ireland in St. Patrick's time. The nine hostages were sent to stay with him as assurance that their kin (the tribal/provincial kings) would not fight against him.