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"Dubhach sin, a dhú na ríogh"

(That gloom, oh, fort of the kings)
Gormfhlaith .cc.
Meter: rannaigecht mór -- ógláchas

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 is 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).

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.

Back to the medieval Irish poem index

Here's another Gormfhlaith song.

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