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The following was contributed by an Irish relative in County Sligo, Ireland. He will be a guest contributor from time to time:
A Blessing before Meals from North Mayo
Beannachtaí na cuig arán agus an dá iasc
Mar do roinn Dia ar an gcuig míle fear;
Rath ón Rí a rinne an roinn
Ar ár gcuid is ár gcomhroinn.
A loose translation is as follows:
The blessings of the five fish and the two breads,
That God divided on the multitude of five thousand
The Great King’s blessed bounty
On our food and shared fare.
(I prefer to use loose translations as I find that literal translations are wooden and stilted and also lose a lot of the nuances and subtleties of the originals).
Douglas Hyde was our first President (1938 – 1945) and was also a noted Gaelic scholar. In his book “The Religious Songs of Connaught” he has a version of the blessing and was particularly taken with the last couplet which he describes as a particularly fine example of Bardic poetry.
Bardic poetry was syllabic and great effort was made to ensure that every line contained alliteration. Other types of ornamentation such as a play on words were also valued. There were four main types of syllabic structures and up to twenty others of which a type known as “Deibhidhe” was the most important.
“Deibhidhe” was written in couplets and each line contained exactly seven syllables.
The first line contain no fewer than four “r”s in “Rath”, “Rí”, “rinne” and “roinn”.
The second line contains two sets of alliteration “á” in “ár” and “ár” and “gc” in “gcuid” and “gcomhroinn”.
The couplet is tied together by a play on words i.e. words sounding the same but with a different literal meaning
rinne = made
roinn = divide
gcomhroinn (second syllable) = share.
A version for America:
In this version I hope to retain the original Bardic couplet by giving a phonetic spelling and a pronunciation guide
The blessings of the five fish and two breads,
That God divided on the multitude of five thousand.
Wrah own Wree (P) a wrinn un wrinn (P)
Er awr gidge (P) iss (P) awr go-wrinn
I have heard the Irish ”r” sound described as having burrs all over. Think of the “wr” sound in “wrath” and “wrench”.
The “i” sound in “Wrinn” is like the “i” in “ring” and the “nn” has a nasal resonance. To pronounce “gidge” replace br in “bridge” with g. “Iss” is as in “hiss”. I have included (P) for pause to help the phrasing.
Enjoy your meal!
See more Irish family history articles and lessons learned in earlier posts below and in the archives.
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