Posts Tagged ‘Thomas MacDonagh’

I’m really enjoying the TG4 Seachtar na Cásca efforts. One by one, an hour will be given to examine the men who signed the 1916 proclamation. So far we’ve seen Thomas Clarke, James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett. Plunkett was a man I knew very little about, and while I was very familiar with the other two men the manner in which their stories were presented made for fascinating viewing. Fintan Lane, Diarmaid Ferriter and other historians lend a great hand to the programme, and TG4 continue to use the perfect bilingual approach. Present the show in Irish, and have the experts speak in the language of their own work, be it Irish or English.

Tonight sees Thomas MacDonagh examined. He is, after Connolly, the most interesting of the seven men to me. His role in the foundation of the ASTI Union is so often forgotten, and he moved throughout the Irish literary scene too, immortalised in the beautiful Francis Ledwidge poem ‘Lament for Thomas MacDonagh’ from which this post takes its title. He was appointed a lecturer at UCD in 1911, and in 1914 was central to the foundation of The Irish Theatre in Hardwicke Street.

His translation of The Yellow Bittern remains among my favourite poems.

” The yellow bittern that never broke out
In a drinking bout, might as well have drunk;
His bones are thrown on a naked stone
Where he lived alone like a hermit monk.
O yellow bittern! I pity your lot,
Though they say that a sot like myself is curst —
I was sober a while, but I’ll drink and be wise
For I fear I should die in the end of thirst…..”

The programme will air tonight at 9.30.

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