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GUTH AN CHEANTAIR – Meitheamh 2014

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Ag Gaeil chumhra an Chreagáin a leagfar mé i gcré faoi fhód

Tógadh plaic ghorm i reilig an Chreagáin in Ard Mhacha theas i gcuimhne ar Art Mac Cumhaigh ar na mallaibh. Is comhfhiontar é an phlaic seo idir Cumann Staire an Chreagáin, Ciorcal Staire Uladh agus Comhairle an Iúir agus Mhúrn. Duine de mhórfhilí Oirialla a bhí ann agus an fear a chum an dán clúiteach ‘Úrchill an Chreagáin’ ceann de na haislingí is mó in oidhreacht liteartha na tíre seo. Dúradh go mairfeadh “Úrchill an Chreagáin” a fhad a mhairfeas an Ghaeilge. Rugadh an file i bparóiste an Chreagáin agus tógadh i mBaile an Achaidh é. Chaith Art an mhórchuid dá shaol sa taobh seo tire agus tamall beag i mBinn Éadair. Cailleadh é sa Tulaigh Ard cúpla mhíle ó Chrois Mhig Lionnáin, áit a raibh cónaí air agus post aoire aige, sa bhlian 1773 – is dócha.

Bhíodh traidisiún láidir litríochta sa dúiche máguaird agus glactar leis gur in oirdheisceart Uladh a tháinig Art ar léamh, scríobh agus litríocht na Gaeilge mar aon le béaloideas agus amhráin na ndaoine. Ba le muintir Uí Néill an Fheadha talamh an dúiche seo go 1655 nuair a chaill siad a ngabháltas le linn aimsir Chromail. Is léir óna chuid filíochta go raibh meas ar leith ag Art ar an teaghlach uaisle sin. Scríobh sé marbhna ar bhás Airt Óig Uí Néill, an duine deireanach de bhunadh Uí Néill na bhFeá a cailleadh sa bhliain 1769.

Mise an Fheadh gan cheann gan chéile Bhí lá go haoibhinn faoi mhac Éinrí, Go ngairfeadh na húdair dúthaigh Uí Neill diom Mo ghairdín cumhra i lúb shliocht Feinis, ‘Iarlaí is prionsaí is cionn na cléire I mo chaisleán ard le taobh Dhún Réimhe.

Deirtear gur cuireadh Art in aice le Niallaigh na bhFeá i reilig an Chreagáin sa bhlain 1773. Má rugadh clann dó níor mhair siad agus níor fhág sé fiú agus ceann amháin dá chuid lámscríbhinní ina dhiaidh. Ach maireann véarsaí Airt i mbéal na ndaoine in Ulaidh thoir theas go dtí an lá atá inniu ann go háthraid an aisling cailiúil sin ina léirionn sé a dhóchas go mbeadh sé féin curtha san uaigh in ‘Úrchill an Chreagáin’:

‘A théagair ‘s a chuisle más cinniúin duit mé mar stór
Tabhair léagsa is gealladh sula rachaidh muid ar aghaidh sa ród
Má éagaim fán tSionainn i gCríoch Mhanainn nó fán Éigipt Mhór
Gurb’ i gCill chumhra an Chreagáin a leagfar mé i gcré faoi fhód

Let me be buried with the pure Gaels of Creggan

A Blue Plaque was recently erected in Creggan graveyard in south Armagh to commemorate the 18th century poet Art Mac Cumhaigh who is best known for his verses on that very place. ‘Úrchill an Chreagáin’ is one of the finest vision poems in Ireland’s literary heritage and destined to last as long as the Irish language continues to be spoken. The poet was born and raised in the parish of Creggan and spent most of his life there apart from a short period in Howth. He died in Tullyard near Crossmaglen where he was living and working as a herd in 1773. There was a strong literary and oral tradition in the area and he learned to read and write the Irish language locally. Even though the O’Neills of the Fews has lost their hereditary lands during the Cromwellian period. Art’s poetry shows that he held that family in high regard still. Their castle was beside Glassdrummond Lake. Art is said to have been buried close to the tomb of the O’Neills in 1773. If he had any descendants they didn’t survive nor did any of his manuscripts. But his poetry lives on in oral tradition today especially that famous vision in which he reveals the heartfelt wish that he should be laid to rest in Creggan churchyard:

If I die somewhere near the Shannon, in the Isle of Man or in Egypt Let it be that I am laid out beneath the sod with the pure Gaels of Creggan

The Blue Plaque was erected as part of a joint initiative by The Creggan History Society, The Ulster Historical Circle and Newry and Mourne District Council.

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