An Approximate Celebration


Astrakhan Cloak

I can find no birthdate for Nuala ni Dhomhnaill aside from being born in 1952 (a birth year of which I’m inordinately fond), so I’m choosing a mid-year day at random to celebrate her. Yes, that is spelled correctly, minus a “fada” or acute accent on the “i” in “ni.” Mary O’Malley told me it was pronounced NOla nee Goo-nal, and if you can’t trust a Gaelic-speaking Irish poet, what’s the world coming to? Nuala was raised in the Dingle gaeltacht, or area where Gaelic is spoken (in this case, on the Dingle peninsula), and that’s the language in which she writes her poems. She does not translate them. Luckily for us, some really great poets also speak Gaelic, including Seamus Heaney, Medbh McGuckian, and Paul Muldoon, and they do translate them. Which is good, because they are wonderful poems. Better, Wake Forest University Press has been publishing her–in translation–for years and years, so we can find said wonders. As you can judge for yourself in the link below.