Poem for Christmas: Cuireadh do Mhuire / An Invitation to Mary

Cuireadh do Mhuire was composed by Máirtín Ó Direáin (1910 – 1988), the great Irish language poet from the village of Sruthán, on Inis Mór (Inishmore), the largest of the Aran Islands, in Galway Bay.

Ó Direáin penned this beautiful and delicate verse at Christmas 1942, when the whole world was at war and his little piece of Ireland, perched on the edge of the vast Atlantic, was helpless to influence the world's powers in any way, save to offer hospitality to the displaced, of whom there were millions.

Today we see the terrible effects of war and devastation in the Middle East, with emigrants and asylum seekers in their hundreds of thousands risking their lives to reach safety and peace. This poem resonated with me today when I read it. I hope you like it.

Cuireadh do Mhuire

An eol duit, a Mhuire,
Cá rachair i mbliana
Ag iarraidh foscaidh
Dod leanbh Naofa,
Tráth bhfuil gach doras
Dúnta ina éadan
Ag fuath is uabhar
An chine daonna?

Deonaigh glacadh
Le cuireadh uaimse
Go hoileán mara
San iarthar chianda:
Beidh coinnle geala
I ngach fuinneoig lasta
Is tine mhóna
Ar theallach adhanta.


An Invitation to Mary

Do you know, O Mary,
Where you will go this year
To look for shelter

For your Holy Infant,
At a time when every door
Is shut in his face
By the hate and the pride
Of human kind?

Be pleased to accept
An invitation from me
To an island in the sea
Far away in the west:
There will be bright candles
Lighting in every window
And a turf fire

Photo of Sruthán, Inis Mór (Inishmore), Aran Islands. © Photo by and with thanks to Bengt Ason Holm. Idea for this blog post prompted by the Naomh Eanna Trust.

Happy New Year to you all.

You can find me any day at Galway Walks - Walking Tours of Galway www.galwaywalks.com, email: galwaywalks@gmail.com phone 086-3273560. Look me up if you ever visit Galway.

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Tags: Aran, Christmas, Folklore, Galway, Inishmore, Islands, Mairtin, Mary, O'Direan, Sruthan, More…poem, poetry

Comment by Brian Nolan on January 7, 2016 at 1:43pm

The feast of the Epiphany, or better known in Ireland as Little Christmas, or Nollaig na mBan - Women's Christmas. A day in the calendar when our women-folk were 'given the day off' in their honour. Belongs to another era...but here's a piece I was inspired to pen last week, for The Wild Geese, for the day that's in it.... and all the trouble in the world. Enjoy the english version, but if you can, read the gaelic version, it's beautifully couched in glorious west of Ireland Irish. Try it...read it aloud, to someone, or yourself, there's no wrong pronunciation, nobody will look at you askance, or give out to you...just say the words, and taste the honey and the humanity! Go on... really, it's a salve, and a prayer, for all of us. It's short I promise. Enjoy... and Happy New Year. Brian


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