Sgobhlaireacht - Scolding Match between Carolan and MacCabe
Sgobhlaireacht - Scolding Match


This poetry was written down by the scribe Hugh O'Malley about the year 1729 - some nine years before Carolan's death. The episode that gave rise to the scolding was a wager between Carolan and MacCabe during which Carolan put MacCabe in a sack so he could not repudiate the wager.

The two opening quatrains of the poem seem to have been written by some third party, who expresses his regret that the sack was not wide enough to accomodate both Carolan and MacCabe. He evidently thinks that both deserved to be sacked for acting the way that they did.
But Charles MacCabe had failed to take the joke in the spirit in which it was intended, and so provoked Carolan into the first half of the scolding match. The second half constitutes MacCabe's rejoinder. The entire piece is clearly a verbal, semi-humorous passage-at-arms, composed without rancor on either side.

le Údar gan ainm
Sé sac Uilliam Eaclis do thug buaidhirt don tír,
Trap an mhic mhallachtain gach uair sa' tsighe;
Níl sgafaire dá ngafaire dá ngabhann anuas ná 'nlos
Nach rachaidh isteach ann má castar é i mbuaire dighe.

by Anonymous
It is William Eccles's sack that has brought trouble to the village,
The devil's own trap constantly on the road;
There's no hearty lad who travels up or down
Who will not get trapped if he comes to grief in drink.

A Mhic Gearailt, ni maith liom nach dtárla daoibh
Sac fairsing, gidh bé h-aca cnáib nó líon;
An dá sgraisde chur isteach ann is do b'fhearrde an tír,
Mar theagaimh do Chathaoir Mac Cába sa'tslighe!
Fitzgerald, I am sorry that ye didn't happen to have
A wide sack, whether made of hemp or linen;
If the two men were put into it the locality would be better off,
As happened to Charles MacCabe when he came that way!

End of introductory verses ...
hunter green dividing bar

May the reward of your own behaviour requite you, smelly-fingered Charles son of Old Cabe. [A pun: the words also mean chair son of an old cape'], and the behaviour I mean is your boorishness and clownishness, seeing that you did not take a joke in better spirit, because I had intended to make a joke of the matter between me and you for (the benefit of) the locality. Since you did not take it like that, here is how it will turn out for you:

Excerpts from Carolan's Part of the Scolding Match

le Turlough O'Carolan
I Fuair Mac Cába duais a dhána.
Nós gach file;
Uaim gan ghailligh mas na caillighe
Chuaidh ar mire.

III Is airde sgal uadh i n-aimsir féasda,
Is é ar misge
Ós cionn cláir ná galltrum gallda
Do dhruim uisge.

IV Is bréaga mar dubhrais gur ghnáth buan
Riamh faoi thart mé;
Cuimhnigh, a stócaigh, gidh mór ólaim
Nár cuireadh i sac mé!

by Anonymous
Mac Cabe received the meed of his lay,
As poets do;
From me without fail, the son of a hag
Went in a frenzy.

Louder his cry in time of feasting,
When he is drunk
seated at table, than foreign trumpet
Over water.

It is lies you told that is usual
For me to be always thirsty;
Remember, fellow, that though I drink a lot
I was not put in a sack.

hunter green dividing bar

Excerpts from Mac Cabe's Part of the Scolding Match

le Cathaoir Mac Cába
I Jesus, Maria! cumhachta Dia umainn!
A dhiabhail bodaigh!
Sé so an t-iaramh tá tú dhéanamh,
'S gan é 'na chogadh!

III Níl ó Ghaillimh fear dá chapall
Go Dún Páraig
Nár chuir tú clos air, is a Chríosd!
Créd é an t-adhbhar?

VII Tug seanbhan liath dhuit thíos i Liathtruim
ar phléráca
Péire stocaidh, is í gan fhiacla,
Is bhí tú sásta.

by Anonymous
Jesus, Maria! God help us!
You boorish devil!
So this is the attempt you are making;
Though it is not war!

There is not a man who ownes two horses
from Galway to Downpatrick
On whom you have not laid tribute, and God!
What is the reason?

A grey-haired crone down in Leitrim
gave you for a tune
A pair of stockings, toothless as she was,
And you were satisfied.

William Eccles who was the owner of the sack is the subject of one of Carolan's other poems. Nothing is known of Fitzgerald but he apparantly took part it tieing MacCabe up. The verses above are excerpts and are numbered on the left side, as the entire poem is much longer. Carolan's original music to this poem, if there ever was any, has not been preserved. It is not included in O'Sullivan's list of the 214 musical pieces that have survived.

Consult the dictionary Foclóir Poca for phonetics
The author of the English translation is unknown.
Donal O'Sullivan, Life and Times of an Irish Harper vol 1 pg 75-9
Courtesy of Jack and Vivian June 2, 2022
The marquee info is by Altan

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