Dáithí Ó Bruadair


Life
?1603-1694 [var. Dáibhí Ó Bruadair; alt. Dáibdhid; occas. Dáithí; anglice David O’Bruadair]; b. East Cork; prob. ed. in bardic school, learning Irish, Latin, English, poetry, and Gaelic genealogy; long resident in Co. Limerick; took employment as a farm-labourer but chiefly maintained himself by translating genealogies; composed dán direach metre correctly; 20 poems extant; virulently anti-Protestant and anti-English, giving evidence of feelings towards settler gentry in Munster; his “Summary of Ireland’s Purgatory” is a review of events during 1641-84, chiefly lamenting the extirpation of Gaelic noble families;
 
he also wrote a poem beginning, ‘Woe to those who are not gloomy boors’ [i.e., not the Protestant English]; patronised by Sir John Fitzgerald, who was brought to London under suspicion of involvement in the Titus Oates plot against Parliament [DIW]; Fitzgerald left Ireland for France after 1691; lamented end of Gaelic bardic tradition in “D’aithle na bhfiledh n-uasal” [‘after the great poets have died there will never again be light’] and “The Shipwreck”, blaming the Irish aristocracy for the neglect of their traditional arts; later patronised by John Bourke of Cahirmoyle, Co. Limerick, and MacDonogh MacCarthy of Duhallow, Co. Cork; d. Jan., at place unknown;
)
poems edited with translations for Irish Texts Society by John C. McErlean as Duanaire Dháibdhid Uí Bhruadair, 3 vols. (1910, 1913 & 1917); an MA thesis on O Bruidair by Seán O’Faolain was printed in part in Earna (1925); a collection of his poems in translation poems was published by Michael Hartnett (1985) and later in Haicéad (1993); Seán O’Faolain prefaced his life of O'Connell (King of the Beggars, 1938) with a denigatory account of O Bruadair walking from Youghal in Co. Cork to Cahirmoyle in Co. Limerick ‘weaving’ two archaic poems in his ‘queer brain’. ODNB DIW DIB OCIL

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Works
John C. McErlean, ed., Duanaire Dáibhid Uí Bhruadair/Poems of David O’Bruadair, 3 vols. (London: David Nutt 1910) [details]; Margo Griffin-Wilson, ed., The Wedding Poems of Dáibhí Ó Bruadair (DIAS 2010), 513pp. [with a wedding poem by Toirdhealbhach Ó Conchubhair as app.]

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Bibliographical details
Duanaire Dáibhid Uí Bhruadair/Poems of David O’Bruadair, 3 vols. [Irish Texts Society, Vols. 11, 13 & 18] (London: David Nutt 1910, 1913, 1917): Poems incl. “Adoramus Te Christe” [‘Adhraim thú, a thaidhbhse ár gcrú’; c.1648]; “Créacht do dháil mé” [1652]; “Iomdha scéimh ar chur na cluana” [epithalamium on the marriage of Una Bourke of Cahirmoyle]; “Cuirfead cluain ar chrobhaing ghealghall” [another for her sister Eleanor, 1675]; “Is mairg nach bhfuil im dhubhthuata” [c.1675]; “Muirear re mí” [ 1678]; “Seirbhíseach seirgthe” [‘A shrewish, barren, bony, nosey servant’; a scatalogical satire on a serving girl]; “Caithréim an Dara Shéamus” [1687]; “Caithréim Phádraig Sáirséal” [Sarsfield at Ballyneety]; “A chaithbhaile dár tháirgeas” [anticipating the betrayal of the Limerick Treaty]; “An Longbhriseadh [The Shipwreck”; on the Flight of the Wild Geese]; “Eire”; “Through tearful Banbha news hath spread ”, and “Woe to man that leaves on his vagaries”, “The high poets are gone”, &c. [See Preface, infra.]

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Criticism
Michael Hartnett, ‘Wrestling with O’Bruadair’, in The Pleasures of Gaelic Poetry, ed. Séan MacReamoinn (London: Penguin 1982) [infra]; Declan Kiberd, ‘Saving Civilization: Céitinn and Ó Bruadair’, in Irish Classics (London: Granta 2000), pp.25-38. See also Hartnett, Ó Bruadair (Oldcastle, Meath: Gallery Press 1985) [translations];

Pádraigín Riggs, ed., Dáibhí Ó Bruadair: His Historical and Literary Context (London: Irish Texts Soc. 2001), vii, 119pp. [Conference of 11 November 2000, UUC.]

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Commentary
J. C. McErlean
, Preface to Poems of David O’Bruadair [ITS Vol. 11] (1910): remarks: ‘[1674] marks an epoch in the poet’s life. Down to that year everything seems to have prospered with him, but on the third of April, 1674, we find him complaining that his “sleep is troubled by the sight of the universal confusion around him”.’ (p.xxvii; quoted in Callum Boyle, UG Diss., UUC 2003.)

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Seán O’Faolain, A Life of Daniel O'Connell, The Irish Liberator in a Study of the Rise of the Modern Irish Democracy 1770-1847 (London: Thomas Nelson 1938), writes of ‘a queer, mad, arcane, Walpurgisnacht of an Epithalamium – all so local, parochial, traditional, allusive, conventional, so very Irish of the Bardic Tradition, that it is now half unintelligible and seems to be somewhat obscene.’ Further, ‘He is walking into the dark, with empty pockets, and God knows if the thing he is making up in his queer brain, for he had a very queer brain, could ever be called poetry.’ (p.13.)

Note: one of the poems was an excuse for mis-spoken words to a previous host; the other a curse on the serving girl who refused him beer - and the type of such barantás [satire] poems written in Hiberno-English by James Stephens and J. M. Synge.

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Norman Vance, Irish Literature, A Social History (Basil Blackwell 1990), pp.37-39: 'Ó Bruadair despised the authors of poetry in amhráin [sic] metre as distinct from dán díreach as ‘street poets’ but demonstrated mastery; his ‘Suim Purgadóra bhfear nEireann 1641-84’ [Summary … &c.]’ remarks on Ó Bruadair’s familiarity with Hudibras, occasioning the reference to Cromwellian ‘Ralphs’; remarks on political incoherence of his poem assuring Fitzgerald notes also moving lament for Elizabeth Aher[ne], sister of Sir Edward Fitzgerald, originally nine English stanzas followed by four Irish, the former excised by John Stock, eighteenth-century scribe whose copy is the only extant one. Bibl, Rev. John C. McErlean, SJ [recte Mac Erlean], ed. and trans., Poems of David Ó Bruadair, 3 vols. (London: Irish Texts Soc. 1910); Hartnett, trans., Ó Bruadair (Dublin: Gallery Books 1985).

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Michael Hartnett, ‘Wrestling with O’Bruadair’, in The Pleasures of Gaelic Poetry, ed. Séan MacReamoinn (London: Penguin 1982): ‘To the end of his life, when he seemed just a beggar among beggars, O’Bruadair was an unrepentant aristocrat. Almost all his insults are aimed at the dubh-thuataigh (“the black boors”), the peasant Irish who immediately took to learning English language and customs - bearla binn (“simpering English”) and codaibh galla-chleireach (“foreign manners”). […]. O’Bruadair took their action as a personal insult to himself.’ (Ibid., p.71.) ‘His bitterness was made all th emore deep by the reversal of situations: illiterate peasant, now beginning to prosper, were now beginning to insult the destitute poet. Daoiste dubh diobaighte duairc gan dan, or of them called him: “a dirty-faced dour dumb-bell”. (Idem.) Further, ‘O’Bruadair upheld and was upheld by what was left of the aristocracy of his time’ (Ibid., p.70.) ‘If the seventeenth century saw the end of Gaelic society, it also saw the end of the professional poets; their poem structures went with them.’ (Ibid., p.73.) [All quoted in Callum Boyle, UG Diss., UUC 2003.]

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Proinsias MacCana, ‘Early Irish Ideology and the Concept of Unity’, in The Irish Mind: Exploring Intellectual Traditions , ed. Richard Kearney (Dublin: Wolfhound 1984), pp.56-78: […] ‘Daibhí Ó Bruadair is scandalised by the bickering and dissension of the Irish leaders, declaiming his message with all the passion and solemnity that only he can bring to bear on such a subject. There is no cause to wonder, he says, that the English are successful, for they hold firm by their compact, unlike his fellow-Irishmen whose alliance falls apart at the pluck of a hair. The substance of his plaint is summarised in the title assigned to this poem in several of the manuscripts; it reads in translation: “The Shipwreck of Ireland, composed by Dáibhí Ó Bruadair on the misfortunes of Ireland in the year of the Lord 1691 and how the sins of her own children brought ruin and dispersion upon her in the month of October of that year: Regnum in se divisum desolabitur” [John C. Mac Erlean, S.J., ed., Poems, London 1917, Vol. 3, p.164]. Again in his poem to Patrick Sarsfield (no. 22) he shows himself preoccupied with the same anxiety: “O King of the world, Thou who hast created it / and everything that stands upon it, / redeem the land of Fodla from the peril of this conflict / and join her peoples together in mutual love” - to which a scribal note in one of the manuscripts adds the disillusioned comment, Agus fáríor í idearna “But alas! He did not.”’ / By the time of Daibhí Ó Bruadair the great dissolution of the native order had larely been accomplished, a circumstance which goes some way to explaining the sombre cast of much of his verse. He realised the full implications of the cultural changes brought about by military defeat and the imposition of British rule and he was close enough to the old dispensation to appreciate in a way that was impossible for those who came after how much had been lost and never could be regained. The symbols of unity are occasionally invoked by later poets, but they have become mere stereotypes emptied of real significance, either in the political or in the cultural sphere.’ (p.77; see also under Tadhg Dall Ó hUiginn, q.v.)

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Quotations
Lonely furrow: ‘It’s a thirsty task, ploughing this lonely furrow, / with a weapon I never employed when I was rich; / this sword-play into th eeart has swelled my ankles / and the shaft has martyred my fingers totally.’ (Trans. Kinsella, in O’Tuama, ed., An Duanaire 1600-1900: Poems of the Dispossessed (Dolmen Press 1994 Edn.).

Old forms: ‘If one now writes to the proper rule / in the way demanded by the schools, / then some smart-alec Paddy or such / will say that it is obscure as Dutch.’ (Trans. in W. J. McCormack, ed., Irish Poetry: An Interpretative Anthology from before Swift to Yeats and After, NYUP 2000, p.3; auoted in Callum Boyle, UG Diss., UUC 2003.)

A Letter [of himself, in English]: ‘his abode in the proximity of a quiet Company, the Dead, being banished the Society of the living for want of means to rent so much as a House and Garden amongst them. He lives like a Sexton without Salary, in the Corner of a Churchyard in a Cottage (thanks be to God) as well-contented with his Stock, which is only a little Dog, a Cat, and a Cock, as the Prince of Parma’.

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References
Dictionary of National Biography: David O’Bruadair, fl.1650-94; Irish poet, violent opponent of Protestantism and everything English; wrote correctly in the difficult Irish metre, dán direch [sic]; Jacobite; evidence of the feelings of the Irish-speaking Munster gentry in his writings; about twenty poems extant.

Hyland Books (1995) lists John C. McErlean as Duanaire Dáibhid [sic] Uí Bhruadair: … Poems of David O’Bruadair, Pt. II. [ITS Vol. XIII, 1st iss., 1913 [sic].

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Notes
An Longbhriseadh [The Shipwreck]”: a single quatrain of the poem on a ship-wreck, apparently witnessed by O’Bruadair, has survived.

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