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A Shionann Bhriain Bhóroimhe

(Oh, Shannon of Brian Boroma)
Diarmaid Ó Bhriain .cc.
Meter: ae freislighe

Diarmaid Ó Bhriain probably wrote this around AD 1600. It was part of a poetic contest with Tadhg Óg Ó Huiginn over which part of Ireland owns the River Shannon. The O'Briens traditionally claimed the Shannon for Thomond (North Munster); the river was also claimed for Desmond (South Munster) and the city of Limerick. This is also a travelogue and praise of the Shannon that follows it from the borders of Munster to the sea. Notes on the geographical features listed appear after the literal and poetic translations. Honest. Just keep scrolling down! The text came from the manuscripts RIA 3 C 13 and 23 I 40; and when I find out what institution holds them, I'll tell you. It was first published in modern times in the _Irish Review_ in March 1913 in an article by Osborn Bergin.

Middle Irish My English translation
A Shionann Bhriain Bhóroimhe, * Oh, Shannon of Brian of Boroma,
iongnadh is méad do gháire, very wonderful, {with} your laugh's greatness,
mar sguire do ghlóraighe how you cease from noisy mirth
ag dol siar isin sáile. where you stretch toward the sea in comfort.
Gluaise láimh ré Bóroimhe, You go to touch on Boroma;
téighe láimh ré Ceann Choradh, * you reach to finger Kincora;
ag moladh Mheic mhórMhuire, at the recommendation of the Son of great Mary,
go bráth bráth is binn t'fhoghar. you are tuneful of sound till eternity.
An port asa dtéighisi, The place where you go
ó shliabh Iarainn 'ga neimhcheilt; you do not hide -- from Slieve Anierin
lór a luaithe téighisi you go quickly enough
tré Loch Ribh, tré Loch nDeirgdheirc. * through Loch Ree, through Loch Derg. *
Ag dol tar Eas nDanainne * At the loop towards the Danaans' Waterfall *
nocha nféadthar do chuibhreach; you may not overflow your shackles;
is ann do-ní an ramhaille, there you go the more slowly --
ag dola láimh ré Luimneach. at departure, you touch near Limerick.
Ó Luimneach an mhearsháile From Limerick, quick and easy
go dtéighe i nInis Cathaigh to reach into Scattery Island,
láimh ré port ar Seanáinne,* touch near our Seanan's harbor, *
caidhe th'imtheacht 'na dheaghaidh. holy the great approach afterwards.
Fa imlibh ar bhfearainne You were bordered by lands
meinic théighe in gach ionam, often going into each,
ar ais tar Eas nDanainne, * back towards the Danaans' Waterfall, *
ag dul san bhfairrge, a Shionann. at departure into waiting, oh Shannon.
Bóinn is Siúir is seinLeamhain The Boyne, the Suir, the slim Elm River *
agus Suca nach sriobhmall -- and the Suck are not slow streams --
adeirid na deighleabhair it says in noble books
gurab uaisle tú, a Shionann. that they are not as noble as you, oh Shannon.

*Shionann/Shannon: The Irish Sionna (the genitive form is Shionann) was anglicized as Shannon, just as Eire is often called Erin (Eirinn is the genitive form of Eire).

*Bhoroimhe/of Boroma: Boroma(sp?) is a place along the River Shannon where Brian Boru/Boroimhe, high king of Ireland, was supposed to have been born. This constitutes a sort of O'Brien claim, or so the poet implies.

*Ceann Choradh/Kincora: Brian's fort and the seat of his power. Literally, the Head of the Weir.

*Loch nDeirgdheirc/Loch Derg: St. Patrick's Purgatory, a world- famous pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages, is located on an island in the middle of the lake.

*Eas nDanainne/the Danaans' Waterfall: Well, I hope that's what it means... anyway, its anglicized equivalent is Doonass Falls...okay, so I didn't like that name as well! Just another clueless romantic....

*port ar Seanáinne/our Seanan's harbor: St. Seanán had a monastic community (and harbor, of course) on Scattery Island.

*Leamhain/Elm River: Nobody knows what Irish river this is; it may be the upper Erne.

Here's my song translation -- no worse than Robin Flower's, anyway....

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