Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Úna Bhán

One of the great Irish love songs love songs was written by Tomás Láidir Mac Coisdealbha (fl.1660s) from Moylurg, Boyle. It will feature in the forthcoming Roscommon anthology.

Tomás was in love with Úna Ní Dhiarmada, but her father considered him less than suitable and forbade her having any contact with him. She, grief-stricken, became very sick and eventually her father relented and permitted Tomás to visit her. On leaving, he vowed that if a messenger sent by Mac Diarmada did not reach him before he crossed the river, he would never return nor speak to her again.

He rode slowly and delayed at the river, even in the middle of the river till eventually, goaded by his servant, he crossed. The messenger arrived but too late. He killed his servant with a single blow.

Úna died heart-broken and was buried on Trinity island on Lough Key. On his death, his request to be buried beside her was granted; it is said that a tree above his grave inter-twined with a tree above hers.

WB Yeats, on visiting the island, searched for the inter-twined trees but failed to find them.   

It not generally known but I, myself, have endured as sad an experience in my own past - it is well known that you must not look back as a lover is leaving. On that dreadful day, I said goodbye to my love and very purposefully turned from her and walked away. However, I had just gone a short distance when it began to rain so I went to open my umbrella. A sudden gust of wind caught the opening umbrella and wheeled me round so that I found myself looking directly at her. To my horror, the clothes she was wearing  now hung on a block of stone that had her likeness. It was standing exactly where I had left her; the index finger of her right hand frozen in the act of removing a tear.

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