Gearóid Mac Lochlainn

Life
b. Belfast; issued Struth Teangacha/Stream of Tongues (2002), published with a CD version; winner of the Michael Hartnett Award, The Irish American Cultural Institute Butler Award and The Open House Festival Literature Award; translated into Romanian.

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Works
Struth Teangacha/Stream of Tongues, intro. by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (Cló Iar-Chonnachta 2002) [with CD].

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Commentary
Fred Johnston, review of Sruth Teangacha/Stream of Tongues, in Books Ireland (Oct. 2002), p.247; quotes introduction by Nuala Ní Dhomnhnaill: ‘the language he uses is a natural extension of the fragmented, shrapnel-strewn quality of life as he has lived it; a creole or macaronic language’, and remarks: ‘Ní Dhomnhnaill sees Mac Lochlainn as a sort of exotic cultural cross-breed singing from the bayous of Belfast. She does not appear to understand, and certainly does not mention, that Irish - or even Creole - has never been native to Belfast and that it has been resurrected there [...] more as a political than a cultural tool in the past thirty-odd years.’ Further, ‘Ní Dhomnhnaill compounds further this fracture of understanding by remarking that ‘‘he writes in a language which is not fashionable or profitable’, when in fact Irish has never been more so each way, and the opportunities for publication and recognition have never been more numerous [...; &c.]’ Johnston calls her contribution this ‘Real McCoy introduction’ but adds in parenthesis that he does not mean to accuse MacLochlainn of a political motive in publishing in Irish.

Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill (adjudicating the Rupert & Eithne Strong Award, of the Dún Laoghaire Annual “Poetry Now” Fest., 2003): ‘Gearóid MacLochlainn is a genuine new and extraordinary phenomenon on the Irish Language scene. Through two earlier collections he has experimented ; sometimes a little tiresomely, sometimes in downright bad Irish ; but in this his third collection in Irish, he has got the voice dead-on. It is a totally new voice in the language. It is Gaeilge as she is spoken in Béal Feirste, including intrusions from English; the dreaded bearlachas; sometimes to the point of pidgin and leavened at all times with a fair smattering of Jailtacht argot. All in all, it is sensational, copious proof, if proof were needed, that Irish is alive and kicking and living in Belfast.’ (Go online.)

Cló Iar-Chonnachta (publisher’s notice, 2002) calls Struth Teangacha/Stream of Tongues ‘a Belfast collection of poetry combining influence and style of Ramblin’ Jack Eliot, Leonard Cohen and Billie Holiday’.

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