A Tale Of Eoghan Rua

She asked me can you speak the Irish Gaelic
I answered no and she said 'shame on you'
But then she added it doesn't mean that you don't love your Country
As much as those who speak the language do.

She said you come from Millstreet near Sliabh Luachra
You might tell me a story of Eoghan Rua
He was one of the great bards of East Kerry
And of him i have heard a tale or two.

Eoghan Rua and fellow Sliabh Luachran Aogan O Rathaille
Perhaps Ireland's finest bards in their day
And as well as famous 'Eoghan the Red' was notorious
So tell us something of him any way.

I said i did not know that much about him
But years ago and old man told to me
How an irate farmer hit the bard from Meentogues
On the head with a stick at a fair in Knocknagree.

It seemed in verse that Eoghan Rua had lampooned him
And the farmer then resorted to foul play
And for writing a poem that was seen as offensive
It seemed by far too big a price to pay.

The great poet died only a short span later
From the injury he received to his head
I cannot vouch for the truth in this story
I'm only quoting what an old man said.

She thanked me as she rose to leave the cafe
Your story was a good one just the same
But in it i could see the saddest message
The price some people have to pay for fame.

She said 'Slan Leat' in the very finest gaelic
Which i think translated means 'farewell to you'
And her parting words you learn your Country's language
Though it doesn't guarantee you to be true.

by Francis Duggan

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