Irish: Reading no. 6

Úna Bhán

This is part one of a short story by one of the foremost short story writers in Irish this century, Séamus Ó Grianna (1891 - 1969), who wrote under the pseudonym "Máire". He lived in the Tír Chonaill area of the Donegal Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area) and his writing is strongly based on the the Donegal dialect of Irish; this, coupled with Ó Grianna's fierce opposition to the "Caighdeán" (Standard Irish), makes his work a good way to get acquainted with the living language as it is spoken by native speakers.

No changes have been made to the text; some vocabulary appears on the right followed by an "=" sign to mark an equivalent to a standard form that you've already learned, but in most cases the correspondences should be obvious. A synopsis of the story so far appears in English at the end of the passage, but for reasons of space, no complete translation is given. However, I'll be happy to translate any section of the text that gives you difficulty -- just clip it and send it to me at mcewan@supercity.ns.ca.


Ba dóigheamhail a' cailín Úna Bhán Shéarluis Chonchubhair. Acht i n-a dhiadh sin ní raibh fonn ar aon fhear de fhearaibh óga an bhaile ceileabhar pósta a chur uirthí. Bhí eagla ortha roimpí. Eagla go raibh an droch-dheor inntí. Ba anoir as Mín na gCliobóg a máthair. Agus bhí sé amuigh ar mhná Mhín na gCliobóg go gcoinnigheadh siad a gcuid fear faoi shlait. (dóigheamhail, "respectable, handsome")
(i n-a dhiadh, "despite; following")
(fonn [m.], "desire")
(ceileabhar [m.], "greeting")
(ortha = orthu)
(droch-dheor [m.], "bad temper")
(anoir, "from the east")
(bhí sé amuigh, "it was said"
--literally: "it was out")
(coinnigh, "keep, hold")
(faoi shlait, "in check"
--literally: "under the rod")
Bhí an dearcadh ag Mághnus Eoghain Óig a bhí ag an chuid eile de mhuinntir a' bhaile, riamh nó go dtug sé searc is síor-ghrádh do Úna. Chonnacthas do Mhághnus nach raibh leithéid Úna ar a' tsaoghal le deise is le sgéimh. (dearcadh [m.], "opinion")
(muinntir [f.], "people")
(riamh, "ever, always")
(searc [f.], "love")
(síor-ghrádh [m.], "eternal love")
(chonnacthas do, "saw")
(saoghal = saol)
(deise [f.], "neatness, handsomeness")
(sgéimh [f.], "beauty")
Rud eile a chonnachtas dó: go raibh sí suaimhneach so-chómhairleach agus nach dtabharfadh sí iarraidh choidhche smacht dá laghad a chur air. (suaimhneach, "peaceful, gentle")
(so-chómhairleach, "docile")
(iarraidh [f.], "attempt")
(choidhche = choíche, "never")
(smacht [m.], "control")
(dá laghad, "the least")
Dubhairt sé sin le n-a mháthair ag iarraidh chómhairle a chur air.
"Bréaga atáthar a chur ar mhná Mhín na gCliobóg," ar' seisean. "Ní thug aon bhean ariamh aca iarraidh a fear a choinneáil faoi shlait." (bréag [f.], "lie, falsehood")
(atáthar, "that are")
(ar' = arsa, "said" [literary])
(aca = acu, "of them")
(ag coinneáil, "keeping")
"Mur' dtug", ars' an mháthair, "Nach iongantach a rud é go bhfuil a ngáir gach aon áit ar fud na dtrí bpobal." (iongantach, "surprising")
(gáir [f.], "rumour, report")
(ar fud, "throughout")
(pobal [m.], "community, parish")
"Ní fhuil ann acht bréaga," arsa Mághnus a' dara h-uair. (fhuil = bhfuil)
(dara, "second")
(uair [f.], "time, occasion")
"Beidh a fhios sin agat má bhíonn sé de mhí-fhortún ort a ghabháil a bhfastódh ionnta," ars' an mháthair. "Ní raibh aon bhean de'n dream ariamh nár choinnigh a fear faoi shlait. Agus máthair Úna Báine ar a' bhean a ba mheasa de'n iomlán aca. Ar ndóighe tá a fhios sin ag an phobal. Bhí aithne againn uilig ar Shéarluis Chonchubhair sul ar phósadh é. Fear a raibh dúil i gceol is i gcuideachta aige. Acht comh luath is pósadh é bhuail sé a cheann faoi. Ní fhacaidh aonduine ar banais ná ar baisteadh ó shoin é, ná a' siubhal leis a' droma Lá Fheil Pádruig. Níorbh' é sin a mhian acht ghéill sé ar mhaithe leis a' tsuaimhneas. Sin a' rud céadna éireóchas duit-se má phósann tú Úna. Ní leigfe sí amach thar doras thú acht do leigean go teach a' phobail Dia Domhnaigh, nó 'un 'aonaigh nuair bhéas beathadach eallaigh le díol nó le ceannacht agat. Agus beidh sí féin cos ar chois leat ar an aonach, ar eagla go mbeannóchthá i dteach na beorach." (mí-fhortún [m.], "misfortune")
(fastódh ionnta, "bound up with them")
(dream [m.], "crowd, group of people")
(measa, "worst")
(iomlán [m.], "all, total; the lot")
(ar ndóighe, "of course")
(uilig, "all, every one")
(sul ar, "before")
(cuideachta [f.], "party, gathering")
(ceann faoi, "subjection")
(ní fhacaidh, "didn't see")
(banais [f.], "wedding")
(baisteadh [m.], "baptism")
(ó shoin, "ever since, since then")
(a' siubhal = ag siúl, "walking")
(droma [gs] druim [m.], "ridge, hill")
(Lá Fheil Pádruig, "St. Patrick's Day")
(mian [f.], "desire")
(géill, "yield")
(ar mhaithe le, "in accordance with")
(céadna, "the same")
(éireóchas, "will happen")
(thar, "across")
(leigean [m.], "permission")
(teach an phobail, "church" --
literally "the community house")
(Dia Domhnaigh, "Sunday")
(aonaigh [m.], "fair; gathering"
-- also spelled "aonach")
(bhéas, "will be")
(beathadach eallaigh [m.], "cattle")
(cos ar chois, "beside")
(beannóchthá, "you will be greeted")
(teach na beorach, "beer-hall, pub")
"Ní chreidim é," arsa Mághnus. "Ní fhuil ann acht sgéal bréagach a chum lucht mailíse." (creid, "believe")
(sgéal = scéal, "story")
(cum, "invent, make up")
(lucht mailíse [m.], "malicious people")
"Maith go leor," ars' an mháthair. "Bíodh do chómhairle féin agat. Tiocfaidh an lá a mbeidh a fhios agat cé aca bréag no fírinne a cuireadh ar mhná Mhín na gCliobóg. Acht nuair thiocfas a' lá sin beidh tú ró-mhall. Fan go bhfeice tú. Ní chreideann tú anois é. Acht creidfe tú é nuair bhéas tú istuigh a' nighe na soitheach is a' bogadh an chliabháin lá saoire nó Dia Domhnaigh." (go leor, "enough")
(bíodh = bheadh)
(cé aca, "which of them")
(fírinne [f.], "truth")
(thiocfas, "will come")
(ró-mhall, "too late")
(ag nighe, "washing")
(na soitheach [m.pl.], "the dishes")
(ag bogadh, "rocking")
(cliabhán [m.], "cradle")
(lá saoire [m.], "holiday, free day")
Tháinig mothughadh feirge ar Mhágnus. "Ní leigfinn-se de bhean ar bith súgán droma a dhéanamh díom," ar seisean. (tháinig, "came")
(mothughadh = mothú [m.], "feeling")
(feirge [gs] fearg [f.], "anger")
(súgán droma [m.], "harness, bridle")
"Sin a' manadh céadna a bhí ag Séarlus Chonchubhair sul ar phósadh é," ars' an mháthair, "acht ní raibh sé i bhfad gur leigeadh an gaoth as." (manadh [m.], "attitude")
(sul ar, "before")
(i bhfad, "a long time")
(leig gaoth as, "let the wind out of")


Synopsis:

Una Bhan the daughter of Searluis Conchubhar was a handsome girl, but none of the men in the village wanted to marry her. They were scared because her mother was from Min na gCliobog, and it was said that all the women from Min na gCliobog kept their husbands under their thumbs.

However, Maghnus the son of Eoghan Og fell in love with Una on account of her great beauty. To him she seemed to be as pleasant and agreeable as anyone could want, and would never try to control anybody. He told his mother that he suspected the stories told about the women from Min na gCliobog were all lies.

His mother disagreed. If they were lies then why did everybody say so? He would find out himself if he ever married Una Bhan. Una's mother had been the worst of the lot. After she had married Searluis Conchubhar, a man who liked music and company, he was never again seen in public, not at a wedding or a baptism, or even on St. Patrick's Day. The same thing would happen to Maghnus if he married Una -- she would be beside him everywhere.

Maghnus again said he didn't believe it. His mother, in reply, tells him to suit himself. He'd find out the truth, but too late. He'd end up washing the dishes and rocking the cradle soon enough.

At this Maghnus grew angry and said that no woman would ever put a harness on him. Which, as his mother pointed out, is just what Searluis Conchubhar said before he got married.

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