Amadán Mhaire Rua - Red-Haired Mary's Foolish Son
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The Story of the Foolish Son ... Episode 1.

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. I came on this story in a 150 yr old report on the recitations at the 'Oireachtas' Festival of the Gaelic League in Dublin when I was doing my M.Phil research ... I came on it in the Munster dialect one time .... as having been recited by a Corkman ... then years later it appeared in the Connaught dialect ... and I remembered reading that Gaelic-speaking emigrants sometimes came to blows around a fireside...in the Yukon at the time of the Gold Rush as to which was the 'real' version ... a supreme example was that of the tale of the 'Glas Gabhran' ... a mythical cow that was reputed to live on Tory Island ... Well, on the old principle that 'a good story - well told' - can always be 'polished' a bit, it seems that the 'Amadán Mháire Rua' managed to gather 'episodes' as it travelled ... making it seem a little 'disjointed' at times ... and having 'imported' a few elements from abroad which were then 'Gaelicised' ... Caoimhghín Ó Brolcháin.

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hi beantreach bhocht ann fadó agus bhí aon mhac amhain aice agus sé an t-ainm a bhi air Seán.Ní raibh ag a mháthair mar saibhreas an domhan acht dá ghabhar a bhí aice i ndubh-luachair na bliana. Do mhair Seán agus a mhathair mar a mhaireann a leitheidi go bra; la a ndóthain aca agus la eilke agus ocras ortha, acht tri olc agus maith b'é gnó Sheáin áire thabhairt dos na gabhair, iad a chomáint amach ar maidin, iad aodhaireacht i gcaitheamh an lae agus iad a thabhairt abhaile um thráthnóna chun a gcrúidhte.

1. Long ago, there was a poor widow who had an only son whose name was Seán. The only riches of the world she had in her latter years were two goats. Sean and his mother lived as their likes always lived, one day with enough to eat and another when they were hungry, but through good and bad, Seán's care was to to take care of the goats, to drive them out in the morning, shepherd them during the day and bring them home in the evening for milking

2. Do tháinig lá sneachta ortha sa gheimhreadh agus dob éigean do Sheán gabháil amach ag comáint a ghabhar, acht nuair a chnnaic sé an sneachta ag tuitim, rith sé abhaile agus d'fhág sé na gabhair 'na dhiadh.. Nuair a chonnaic sí ná raibh aon dealramh stop ag an sneachta, duirt sí le Seán dul agus na gabhair fheiscint. Do chroith sé a shloinneáin agus duirt sé go raibh an aimsir anA1-fhuar. Duirt sí leis breith ar a chóta mór agus í casadh timcheall air féinig agus na gabhair a thabhairt leis sar a muchfaidhe iad sa tsneachta.

2. There came a snowy day in winter and Seán had to go out looking after the goats, but when he saw the snow falling, he ran home and left the goats behind him. When she saw there was no sign of the snow stopping, she told Seán to go and see to the goats. He shrugged his shoulders and said that the weather was very cold. She told him to get the overcoat and and put it around himself and to go and get the goats before the snow should smother them.

3. Do thóg Seán leis an chota mór agus d'imthig sé agus amach ar fud na bpáirceanna leis, ar lorg na ngabhar.Do bhuail uime, i gceann des na páirceanna, gallán m'or fada 'na sheasamh agus níor aithin sé an gallán, toisc an tsneachta a bheith 'á cháthadh air, agus shíl sé gur duine bhí ann. Do dhein sé ar an ngallán agus do bheannaigh sé dó agus d'fhiafraigh sé cad é an donas a bhí air agus a bheith 'na sheasamh ansan a leithéid de lá sneachta. Níor labhair an gallán focal.

3. Seán took the overcoat and off he set through the fields looking for the goats. In one of the fields, he bumped into a tall gate post standing thereand he didn't recognise it for what it was because of the snow covering it. He thought that it must be some person there. He went over to the post and greeted it and asked it what on earth it as doing standing there on such a snowy day. The post never spoke a word.

4. "Mo thrua thú , a dhuine bhoicht," arsa Seán,"Is dócha go bhfuill tú leaghta leis an bhfuacht." Thóg sé an cóta mór d'a ghuallainn feinig agus chas sé an cóta mór timpcheall ar an ngallán - "Agus is dócha go bhfuil gádh do dhóthain agat léi..." Chomáin sé leis agus d'fhág sé an gallán ansan. Bhí an sneachta 'á chathadh comh gear san agus fuacht ag breith ar Sheán tar éis a chóta mhóir a chaitheamh de, nár dhein sé a thuilleadh lorg dos na gabhair, acht rith abhaile ag triall ar a mhathair.

4. "Oh you poor man, my pity on you !" said Seán. " It's likely that you are frozen with the cold." He took off the overcoat from his own shoulders and put it round the gatepost - "And it's likely that you can well do with it !" He continued on his way and left the gatepost there. The snow was falling so heavily and the cold was penetrating poor Seán after taking his overcoat off, that he gave up looking for the goats and ran home looking for his mother.

5. "An bhfeachais na gabhair ?" arsa a mháthair. "Ní fhacha," arsa Seán."Cá bhfuil do chóta mór?" ar sise. "Do chasas timcheall ar shean-duine mhór do chonnac shíos 'n'a sheasamh ar lár na páirce í," ar seisean, "agus an sneachta ag bualadh air, tháinig trua agam dó." "Imthigh, a amadáin, " arsa ise, " agus tabhair leat do chóta mór – agus brosduigh ort, agus ná bíodh sí imithe uait." "Go deimhin, ní raghad," ar seisean, "mar is mó an gá atá aige siud léi ná agamsa."

5. "Did you see the goats ?" asked his mother. "I did not," said Seán. "Where is your overcoat ?" she asked. "I put it round an old man I saw down there standing in the middle of the field, with the snow falling on him," he said, "because I felt sorry for him." "Go back this minute," she said, "and bring your overcoat back – and hurry in case it's gone." "Indeed I won't," he said, " because he needs it more than I do."

6. Do thóg a mháthair an ursul agus do bhuail sí cúpla buille de'n ursal trasna na loirgne ar Sheán, agus, mar ná raibh bróga ná stócai air, do gortuíeadh go hiontach é. Do rith sé an doras amach agus é ag gol agus do chomáin sé leis arís trí na páirceanna chun go dtáinig sé go dtí an áit go raibh an gallán. Do bhí an gallán 'na sheasamh i gcómhnuí, acht do bhí an ghaoth tar éis na casóige do shéide dhe annsa tsneachta tamall éigin agus do bhí sí, geall leis, clúdaithe ag an tsneachta nuair a tháinig Seán. Do rug sé ar an gcasoig agus do chroith sé í. "Greadadh cugat, a stúmpa ghranna," ar seisean leis an ngallán, "cad na thaobh duit a leithéid seo do chór a thabhairt dom' chasóig ?"

6. The mother got the tongs and gave Seán a couple of blows across the shins, and since he had neither shoes nor socks on him, it hurt him terribly. He ran out the door weeping and he kept on until he came again through the fields to the place where the post was. The post was still standing there, but the wind had blown the coat off and it lay a short distance away, almost covered in snow when Seán arrived. He grabbed the coat and shook it. "Bad luck to you, you ugly ould stump," he said to the post, "why did you treat my coat like that ?"

7. Níor labhair an gallán aon fhocal leis agus d'imthig sé cúpla coiscéim i ndiaidh a chúil. "Cuirfeadsa d'fhiacaibh ort labhairt, a stumpa ghranna, pe saghas duine thú !" arsa Seán. Do rith sé chuige isteach agus thug sé a ghuala dhó agus do leag sé an gallán. "Biodh an méid sin agat," ar seisean. D'fhéach Seán annsan air nuair a bhí sé ar lár aige agus thug sé fé ndeara ná raibh aon chor sa tsean duine agus shamhlaigh sé go raibh sé marbh. D'fheach sé ar an áit go raibh an gallán 'na sheasamh agus chonnaic sé na licíni néata go léir a bhí fé. Do leath sé amach a chóta mór agus do chrom sé ar na liciní a phiocadh isteach innti chun gur líon sé suas an chóta mór díobh. Do shocraigh sé chuige annsan a chóta mór agus a raibh inti agus bhuail sé i n-airde ar a ghuallainn iad, agus chuaidh sé abhaile ag triall ar a mháthair leo.

7. The post didn't say a word to him, so he drew back a few paces. "I demand that you say something, you ugly ould stump, whatever sort of person you are !" said Seán. He gave a short run then towards it and gave it his shoulder and knocked it down. "Take that !" he said. He looked and looked at him when he had knocked him down and saw that there was no stir out of the old man and thought that he must be dead – but where he had been, there were a lot of nice-looking little plates under him. He spread out his overcoat and and began to pick them up and to pile them onto it. When it was full, he hoisted it up on his shoulder and set off seeking his mother.

8. "A Sheáin a laoigh," arsa an mháthair,"cad tá agat ?" "Ní fheadar cad tá agam," arsa Seán, "acht tá licíni deasa éigin agam." "Taispeáin dom iad," ar sise. Do thaispeán."Cá bhfuair tú iad seo a Sheáin ?" ar sise go h-anamhail, má d'aithin sí gur ór a b'eadh na licíni. "Nuair a chuadhas amach an uair úd, a mháthair," ar seisean,"do bhí mo chóta mór caithte ag an seanduine dhe, thíos ar lár na páirce. D'fhiafruigheas de cad 'na thaobh gur chaith sé dhe í, agus níor thug sé aon freagra orm. Do thugas cos agus lámh dó agus do leagas é, agus nuair do thit sé bhí na licíni seo go léir fé san áit go raibh sé i n-a sheasamh." "A Sheáin, an bhfuil a thuilleadh aca ann ?" ar sise. "Tá, morán," arsa Seán. "Airiú, a lao' ! Tanam ort agus taispeáin dom an áit," ars' an mháthair.

8. "Seán darling," said his mother, "What have you there ?" "I don't know what I have," said Seán. "But they are nice little plates of some sort," "Show them to me," she said. He showed them to her. "Where did you find them, Seán ?" she said excitedly,because she recognised that the little plates were gold. "When I went out that time, mother," he said, "my overcoat had been thrown off by the old man down in the middle of the field.. I asked him why he had thrown it off him but he gave me no answer. I gave him a shove and knocked him down and when he fell, all these little plates were under him where he had been standing. "Seán, are there any more of them there ?" she said. "Oh, there are, a lot," he replied."Really, darling ! Hurry now and show me the place," his mother said.

9. Do chomáineadar leo, an bheirt le cois a chéile, go dtí gur thánadar go dtí an áit go raibh an gallán leagtha agus do bhí morán des na licíni san áit go raibh sé 'na sheasamh. Bhailigheadar suas an méid fheadadar fheiscint díobh agus thugadar abhaile leo iad. Do bhí seanA1- cofra istigh sa tigh aca – agus ní raibh puínn eile troscáin ann – agus d'fhosgluieadar an cófra agus chuireadar isteach an t-ór go léir ann. "Anois, a Sheáin," arsa an mháthair,"má innseann t'u d'aoinne go bhfuaramar iad sin, brisfidh mé do loirgne leis an ursal!" "Ní inneósaidh mé go deimhin," arsa Seán, "mar atá mo loirgne tinn a ndóthain mar atá aca."

9. They continued on, the pair of them, side by side, until they came to the place where the post lay fallen and there were a lot of the little plates in the place where it had stood. They gathered up what they could see of them and took them home with them. They had an old chest in the house – not a stick of other furniture did they have – and they opened it and put all the gold into it. "Now Seán," said his mother, "if you tell anyone that we found those, I'll break your shins with the tongs !" "Oh, I won't tell anyone, indeed," said Seán, "because my shins are sore enough as they are."

10. Bhí an oiche, geall leis,tagtha um an dtaca seo agus duirt Seán lena mháthair a shuipéar a thabhairt dó go raghadh sé a chodla agus do fuair. Nuair a bhí a shuipear ithte aige, duirt a mháthair leis dul agus na gabhair thabhairt leis sar a raghadh sé a chodla. D'imthig sé ar lorg na ngabhar agus é ag gol agus fuacht ar a chosaibh insan tseachta. Bhí sé tamall mór ar a lorg sar a bhfuair sé iad agus thug sé leis iad agus thug sé abhaile iad. Do nígh sé a chosa agus chuaidh sé a chodla do fhéin.

10. The night was almost fallen by this time and Sean said to his mother that she should give him his supper and he would go to bed and he got it. When he had eaten his supper, his mother told him to go and get the goats in before he should go to sleep. He went to look for the goats and he was weeping with the cold on his feet in the snow. He spent a long time searching for them before he found them and took them home. He washed his feet and went to bed for himself.

This tale began with Seán giving his coat to an 'old man' in a snow storm. I made it a 'gatepost'...it was in fact a 'gallán' in the Gaelic text - an ancient Celtic boundary marker. You will see a lot of them in West Cork. They are slender shafts of stone, about 6 feet high, standing vertically in the middle of a field. They are never interfered with. There aren't a lot of people, outside Cork, who would immediately understand the ref. to a 'Gallán' - hence 'gatepost' in our version. I hope you will understand...and forgive. Caoimhghín.

We would like to acknowledge that, because of unavoidable condensing, necessary for fitting this tale into the space available, some alteration in plot has had to be made.

Courtesy of Jack & Vivian, IrishPage.com February, 2022
Replay background music: Colonial Boy by Frank Lennon...
Ar mbuiochas le Caoimhghín Ó Brolcháin
ar son a chabhair leis an nGaedhilge


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