In the last article in this special series, various writers celebrate the life and work of Máirtín Ó Cadhain who died on the 50th anniversary of 18 October 1970.
Quiet, subtle and extremely effective
Máire Ní Annracháin
It is probable that Máirtín Ó Cadhain was speaking metaphorically when he claimed that he was drawn from the world of folklore, a life that has not changed in a thousand years, because life in Ireland has changed so much over the course of a thousand years. Even if he felt that the past tense was stretching back uninterruptedly, he certainly did not leave the literature he inherited untouched, manipulated and profoundly developed.
I have room for one example: Christianity, which has been and always has been on the cornerstones of Ireland since the beginning of history. Cadhnach has a number of short stories imagining how Christ affected people around him. In one of them, a retiree tells of the success of a man he saw during a wedding, wine made out of water. Another story tells ironically that bakers, fishermen, crutch makers, etc. dissatisfied with the miraculous provision made by a man who came among them – Christ, it is clear – and who undermined their business.
Not all stories are equally clear but many still take turns from stories greatness of Christianity. The original catastrophe of mankind, according to the Book of Genesis, was to eat the apple of the commandment .i. find out. Many of Ó Cadhain’s stories are built, not on events that happen during the story, but on characters who gradually come to a new knowledge or understanding of something that has happened before. The strangeness usually follows the understanding in those stories.
Cadhnaigh ‘s political work is synonymous with force and proclamation, as he seeks to reform Irish society, especially Gaeltacht life. He was steadily disappointed. In the field of literature, however, the trace of his hand was quiet, subtle and extremely effective.
The Gaeltacht shaped his philosophy of life
Once upon a time a great writer emerges in any language. Cois Fharraige’s main genius, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, was of that quality without question. He was one of the great writers of the twentieth century in this country, and if he wrote in English Yeats, Joyce, Synge, Friel, Heaney and the like, a thriving literary industry would be a cross of the greenstone above him, and professors and worshipers from the four highs on an annual pilgrimage to its memorial and memorial center on Greenhill.
Ó Cadhain was in the first instance a Gaeltacht man of the common people. It was the Gaeltacht that shaped his philosophy of life which he revealed in all his work, from the work of his pen to his work in the many movements, societies and campaigns. Throughout his life, however, he believed that the Gaeltacht was on its last legs, ‘fighting — or rather perishing — in its last ratholes’, as he wrote in the Irish Times in 1953. However, the Irish language was ‘the mysterious force that drove him forward’, as his close friend, Breandán Ó hEithir, wrote in Over White City East. It was the cornerstone of his identity, his uniqueness, even his humanity. He stated bluntly in 1960: ‘The Irish language alone has been the only taboo I feel as an Irishman for years.’
The challenge of his death in his creative work, which he wrote in Irish only and which the Irish language world has never seen in his field or language ability since the country was once a Gaeltacht.
Although he had published extensively before, and published many since, ba Cré na Cille who announced that Cadhnach had great writer talent.
This rare novel is a close look at the life of Connemara’s ‘energetic and energetic assembly’ and its ‘despicable minorities’. There is a great difference between Ó Cadhain ‘s insight into it and the kind of life that is described in it The Islander and Peig, not to mention the work of western writers such as Tomás Bairéad and Pádraic Óg Ó Conaire. It’s a cuckoo egg in many ways Cré na Cille, a one – time champion or achievement, and the like Ulysses by James Joyce, or the artwork of Paul Henry, or the ecclesiastical windows of Harry Clarke, or the music of the Carolingian, or Book of Kells, is an Irish cultural icon.
As we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of his death, it is worth remembering that Ó Cadhain had a dream in which he unfolded fearlessly in the work of his pen and in the words of his mouth. If he believed that ‘the sun was setting, as if it were setting back’ on Ireland he preferred to see himself in power, that belief generated little hope, in spite of all odds. ‘We, the Irish, did not say that we had ever fought the last battle,’ he told the Scotsman at the battlefield of Cúl Odair.
How do you know that not many battles will still be fought in the Memorial Center that should be built in his honor on his native Greenhill?
Every Russian recognizes the characters in this book
The most important is the Cadhnach and Cré na Cille for me as a translator, who translated that book into Russian, than the language in which the book was written. Cadhnach was a master of prose, who composed a work that I think is difficult to read, which must have been difficult. But it is not just difficulties of form but of the people themselves, the people as they are during their lives and, perhaps, after their death. We know that people have a mixture of critical criticism and praise. The book is a kind of portrayal of the community and we know the people there for sure. They are the same people who want to look more polite and well-mannered while gossiping and gossiping about their neighbors.
Every Russian knows the characters in this book, that ‘s if he even spent one summer in his grandmother’ s house in a small town somewhere in Russia and listened to talk like this around him. And the clearest evidence we have is that Cré na Cille impressing Russian readers today that the first edition of this book was sold out in Russia in July and that the second edition is being sold in bookshops around the country and on the internet. Ó Cadhain has given the readers work to do and we still have that work in hand.
It is also a ‘pseudo-literary’ language but the work is bursting with emotions that include bitterness, disappointment, hatred and anger. And the hope. The author revealed a dark seed within the tradition, in the people, within their souls and perhaps within the religious and literary tradition. But it showed that darkness and brightness are difficult to separate. That is a classic idea that is very close to Russian literature. It is a modern book Cré na Cille which changed Irish literature but was a ‘classic’ book at the same time.
How ironic it is and even though the person is as it is, I believe there is hope and so I applaud Cré na Cille read in every language in the world. Honest!
CADHNACH AND ME: ‘This writer had a relationship with us, he was one of us’