Colm De Bhailìs

Photo:Colm De Bhailìs

Colm De Bhailìs

Photo:Eamon de Valera

Eamon de Valera

Olive Breathnach, Gleann Gabhla, 1984

By Mary Kyne

Inis Meáin,

Inis gan arán

Inis gan gortach,

Mara a dturaidh tú leat arán

An lá gabhas tú ann,

Beidh tú an lá sin ‘do throscadh.

 

B’in iad na focail ghéara a d’úsáid Colm de Bhailís lena a mhí-shástacht do chur in iúl leis an gcaoi a dfháiltigh muinntir Inis Mhéain roumhe nuair thug sé cuairt ar an oileán tráth éigin.  Anois, trí scór de bhlianta i ndiaidh a bháis agus é curtha in uaigh i  gCeann Rabhar nach bhfuil a ainm fós  uirthí,  bheadh sé suimiúil tuairimiú faoin gcaoi a schríobhfadh sé faoi Uachtar Ard dámbeadh fhios aige to bhfágraí a uaigh gan a ainm  bheith uirthí go dtí an lá inniu.’Na dhiaidh sin is uile, de bhrí gur duine tuisceanach a bhí ann, d’ fhéadfadh sé go scríobhfadh sé le h-urraim don áit inar chaith sé cuid mhaith dá bhlianta deireanacha.  Is i dTeach na mBocht a bheadh sé, na blianta sin, marach go ndeárna an Piarsach agus Pádraic Ó Domhnalláin, oide scoile, réiteach le bean tigh san gcomharsanacht le go mbeadh lóistín aige ina teach ar 3punt an tseachtain. Feadh an ama a chaith sé i d Teach na mBocht, bhí iar- mháistreas scoile ann chomh maith – bean a raibh croí mór aici – agus scríobh Colm dán fúithe dà moladh. Sa dàn sin deir sé:

Is binne a glór  na ceolta sídhe,

Is geall le siúcra craithte ar im,

Nuair dhéanas sí an t-áran…

Ar an gcuma  chéanna, is docha nach mbeadh ach an dea-fhocal le rá aige chomh maith dá scríobhfadh sé faoi Uachtar Ard agus muinntir na háite.

Bhí baint eile leis an mbárd–scollóg leis an gceanntar seo: phós sé bean as Doire. Bhí Colm pósta faoi dhó, agus ní fios cé acu den bheirt bhan a tháinig  ó Dhoire. Mac amháin a bhí aige agus cailleadh an t-óganach sin nuair nach raibh fiche bliain caite aige.  Nuair a chailleadh an dara bean-chéile a bhí aige  bhí air dul isteach i dTeach na mBocht.

Ag am a bháis , b’é Colm an file deireannach gan béarla i gCúige Chonnacht agus, dá bhrí sin, is an-tábhachtach a chuid fhilíochta mar gheall air an leagan cainte atá innte – ní raibh an teanga ghallda, teanga na bpáipéirí nuachta, ag rith trína a chloigeann agus é ag cumadh a chuid fhilíochta.  File tuaithe a bhí ann agus é ioncurtha leis an Rachtúrach ar bhealach. Ach ní raibh na buntaistí céanna aige is a bhí ag Raftery. Bhíodh Raftery ag síor  siúl  ar fud na tire ag buaileadh le gach sórt duine agus, dá bharr sin, bhí eolas níos fearr aige ar chúrsaí an tsaoil ná mar a bhí ag Colm.  Taobh amuigh de thréimse ghearr ar an dTulach Mór agus timpeall deich bliana I gCoill Rois, chaith Colm an chuid is mó dá saol ag tógáil tithe ina cheanntar féin, i.e. Garumna, Leitir Mealáin agus Leitir Caladh. Bhí an mheas aige ar Raftery agus lá amháin, ar an mBóthar Mór i nGaillimh casadh ar a chéile iad. B’Féidi mar sin, nuair a bhí an píosa flíochta thuasluaite dah scríobh aige faoi Inis Meán, go raibh na focal ghéara úd a scríobh Raftery faoi’n Uarán Mór tráth ina chloigeann aige:

 “ Baile beag briste,

‘S a thón le h-uisce,

‘S a mhná gan uisce

‘na gceann”.

Saor a bhí ann a chum an chuid is mó dá chuid fhilíochta le sult agus caitheamh aimsire a dhéanamh do mhuintir na dtithe ina mbíodh sé ag taisteaal ar fud Conamara ag obair.  Tá sé ráite go bhfuair sé cart poitín chomh maith le lóistín oíche as ucht an dáin sin “ An Bás” a scríobh – táilliúir len ar chaith sé oíche i lóistín, uair amháin, agus a raibh ”An Bás” mar leasainm, atá i gceist san dán seso. Ceann de na dánta is cáiliúla  dár chum sé ariamh is ea “ Cúirt an tSrutháin Bhuí”, agus is suimiúil an rud é nárbh é féin údar na bhéarsa is binne agus is deise den ceithre bhéarsa déag atá ann, ach Mícheál Ó Clochartaigh, duine dá chomharsan.

Rugadh Colm de Bhailís i Leitir Mealláin ar an 2/5/1796, dhá bhliain roimh Éirí Amach 1798. Ina óige bhí muintir na hÉireannag súil le cabhair ó  Napoleon Bonapaarte- “ Cuirfimid an Choróin ar Napoleon Bonaparte” an ros catha a chloistí go minic in áiteanna an t-am sin. Ábhar mórtais aige igcónaí gur cuimhin leis go maith an lá a thit cogadh Waterloo asmach. Fear óg a bhí ann i 1829, nuair tugadh saoirse creidimh do mhuintir ne hÉireann.  Meán–aosta a bhí sé aimsir an Ghorta Mhóir, agus is ag an am sin, am an ghátair agus an ghanntanais, a scríobh sé an dán cáiliúil úd “ An Gréasaigh”.  Mhair sé go dtí tosach na haoise seo.

Tá na hamhráin a chum sé, go mór mór an ceann sin “ Amhrán an Tae”, le cloisteáil fós i gConamara, ach is mór an trua é nach bhfuil eolas níos fearr ag muinntir na hÉireann ar fad ar Cholm agus ar a shaothar.  Bhí súil ag Colm go mbainfeadh daoine sult agus sásamh as a chuid amhrán agus a chuid fhilíochta, blianta o shoin, bhí ann bhéarsa seo leanas mar réamhrá don eagrán:

“A leabhar atá anois faoi chló ,

Imigh romhat tré Éireann uaim,

Amhrán ghreannmhair, amhráin cheoil,

Nach deas, ar ndóigh, an féírín thú?”

Colum Wallace  2/5/1796 - 27/2/1906

 

Colum Wallace, the poet, who lived in the Workhouse in Oughterard would have died unrecognised only for the attention paid to his welfare by Patrick Pearse and Eamon de Valera.  The Gaelic League thought that an educated person such as Colum should not be in a Workhouse so they procured lodgings for him with the O'Toole family, Main Street, Oughterard. He lived until he was 110 years old and he was buried in Kilcummin graveyard. His grave was unmarked until Pat Gibbons, Main St. Oughterard pointed it out. A headstone was erected over the grave bearing with the inscripition;

                 Colm de Bhailís,

               File agus Fear ceirde

              2-5-1796 – 27-2-1906 

His works were published by Connradh na Gaelige. “Tacar Amhrán” a collection of poetry by Padraic Ó Domhnalláin, a local teacher, contains a poem”Amhrán an Tae” by Colum Wallace. This book was in use in local National schools at the beginning of the century.

Eamon De Valera and Padraic Pearse stayed with Padraic Ò Domhnalláin in Camp Street when they came to visit Colum Wallace. De Valera at that time used to attend Irish courses in Tourmakeady.  Padraic Pearse wrote several letters to Padraic Ó Domhnalláin.  Seán Donnellan National school teacher, son of  Padraic Ó Domhnalláin, gave me a copy of the letters: 

 

“An Claidheamh Soluis” agus “Fáinne and Lae”,

24 Sráid Uí Chonaill,

Átha Cliath,

08-07-1903.

 

‘ Chara Chroidhe,

                              I am so pressed that I did not get time to send you a receipt for the generous donation of your Craobh to the Colum Wallace fund but you no doubt saw the acknowledgement in “An Claidheamh”. We have failed so far to get anyone in Garumna or in Carrowroe to take Colum.  Fr. Brett C.C. has been making enquiries. Would it be too much to ask you to make enquiries as to whether someone could be got in or near Oughterard, or indeed, anywhere.  Time is passing and indeed the old man may die any minute. We have now enough money to take him out of the workhouse.  If there was only someplace for him to go?  Please do your best.  What do you think he would say to being placed in someplace for aged people, in Galway or elsewhere?  He would, of course, be sure of good care and food there, No doubt he needs, to some extent, invalid treatment.

 Many thanks for photo which I hope to make use of.  I am thinking of writing a short article in English on Colum, to appear along with the photo. I can lay my hands on “Cúirt an Srotháin Bhuidhe” and on “Amhrán an Tae”.  Another poem of his is “ An Bás”, which I think has never been printed. Could you get me a copy of this?  Indeed I should be grateful if you could send me copies of any poems, long or short, by him that you can get, also any short rhymes, anecdotes, epigrams etc. as well as any incident in his life that has not yet been published. Now is the time to collect all of this. Ina few months it may be too late. I am sure an interesting article could be written, giving quotations from his poems. Afterwards we might bring out the poems in a little book.

Please let me know as soon as possible how you are getting along with inquiries about the house.

Mise do chara,

Padraic Mac Piarais.

Photo:Padraic pearse

Padraic pearse

 

A second letter was received on the 29. 07. 1903.

 

‘Chara Chroidhe,

 I am very glad indeed that you have been able to close with Mrs O Toole as regard terms.  It relieved me of a great deal of anxiety.  I enclose cheque for £3, which I think should be sufficient to fit Colum out respectably and keep him in pocket money for some time. In order to keep everything square I intend to make all payments by cheque. The present cheque I make payable to you. You can change it and give the £3 to Colum. Try, if possible, to complete everything to morrow or next day so that Colum may take up his residence with Mrs O Toole on Saturday 1st.  I will send you cheque for £2 for Mrs O Toole on Friday evening.  I am anxious s to be able to announce in next weeks “ Claidheamh” that everything is complete and that Colum is now comfortably housed outside the Workhouse.

 Many thanks for “ An Bás” and “ Cúirt and Srotháin”. I will only quote from them in the article.  Would it be too much to ask you to let me know before Monday in what year (approximately) “ Amhrán an Tae,” An Bás” and Cúirt” were composed and also where the “ Cúirt” was and whether it is still standing? You will hear from me again by Saturday morning.

I need scarcely say that I am most grateful to you for the way you have helped me throughout. But for you, it would have been quite impossible for me to carry the matter through.

Mise do chara go buan,

Padraic Mac Piarais.

 

Note:

As a result of the correspondence with Padraic Ó Domhnalláin an article on the life of Colum Wallace appeared in Padraic Pearse’s paper “ An Claidheamh Soluis’ in August 1903.  Gearóid Dennvir  NUIG Galway published a book in 1996 entitled “ Amhráin Choilm de Bhailís”. When Olive Breathnach wrote her article on Colm Wallace’s life in 1984 people believed that Colm was buried in “Teampaillín” the Workhouse Graveyard. 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

This page was added by David Collins on 23/08/2010.
Comments about this page

Glad to read your piece about Colm a'Bhailis. Mrs O'Toole (nee Healy) in the Main St. was my great grandmother. My mother often told me about Padraig Pearse calling in to O'Toole's to converse with Colm a'Bhailis but I thought it was just a family legend.

By Stephen MacDonagh
On 09/06/2011

Colm de Bhailís (C W) is indeed recorded in the 1901 census as a 105-year-old. http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1901/Galway/Oughterard/Cregg/1394624/

By Finbarr Connolly
On 22/11/2011

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