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Leabhar na hAthghabhála | Bloodaxe Books

Louis de Paor

Leabhar na hAthghabhála

Poems of Repossession

Louis de Paor

Publication Date : 28 Apr 2016

ISBN: 9781780372990

Pages: 65
Size :216 x 138mm
Rights: World

Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation

Irish-English bilingual edition

This is the first comprehensive critical anthology of modern poetry in Irish with English translations. It forms a sequel to Seán Ó Tuama and Thomas Kinsella’s pioneering anthology, An Duanaire 1600-1900 / Poems of the Dispossessed (1981), but features many more poems in covering the work of 25 poets from the past century.

It includes poems by Pádraig Mac Piarais and Liam S. Gógan from the revival period (1893-1939), and a generous selection from the work of Máirtín Ó Direáin, Seán Ó Ríordáin and Máire Mhac an tSaoi, who transformed writing in Irish in the decades following the Second World War, before the Innti poets – Michael Davitt, Liam Ó Muirthile, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Cathal Ó Searcaigh, Biddy Jenkinson – and others developed new possibilities for poetry in Irish in the 1970s and 80s. It also includes work by more recent poets such as Colm Breathnach, Gearóid Mac Lochlainn, Micheál Ó Cuaig and Áine Ní Ghlinn.

The anthology has translations by some of Ireland’s most distinguished poets and translators, including Valentine Iremonger, Michael Hartnett, Paul Muldoon, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Bernard O’Donoghue, Maurice Riordan, Peter Sirr, David Wheatley and Mary O’Donoghue, most of them newly commissioned for this project. Many of the poems, including Eoghan Ó Tuairisc’s anguished response to the bombing of Hiroshima, ‘Aifreann na marbh’ [Mass for the dead] have not previously been available in English.

In addition to presenting some of the best poetry in Irish written since 1900, the anthology challenges the extent to which writing in Irish has been underrepresented in collections of modern and contemporary Irish poetry. In his introduction and notes, Louis de Paor argues that Irish language poetry should be evaluated according to its own rigorous aesthetic rather than as a subsidiary of the dominant Anglophone tradition of Irish writing.

Co-published with Cló Iar-Chonnacht 

‘Every so often... a book arrives which shows the possibility of reconsidering and reconceiving the way poetry works in Ireland: Leabhar Na hAthghabhála: Poems of Repossession (Cló Iar-Chonnacht/Bloodaxe) is one of those books… This is a terrific, open introduction to a century of Irish-language poetry and its connections and conjunctions animate the debates and breakthroughs and experiments, successful and otherwise, that comprise our living tradition.’ – John McAuliffe, The Irish Times

'Leabhar na hAthghabhála is a tremendous achievement bound for classic status far into the future.' - Caroline Hurley, Dublin Review of Books

‘One of the fascinating aspects of this anthology is to note the cross currents and influences that have shaped the poetry included in it and to see how a legitimate desire to preserve one’s roots does not necessarily cut one off from the wider world.’ – David Cooke, The Manchester Review

‘Muldoon, together with Thomas Kinsella, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Brendan Kennelly and others.. appears as a translator in the substantial bilingual Poems of Repossession, subtitled “20th-century poetry in Irish”. The original Irish language poets range from Patrick Pearse to Seán Ó Ríordáin, Máire Mhac an tSaoi to Caitlin Maude and Michael Hartnett to the editor Louis de Paor himself. Carefully compiled, with admirable annotation, this is one of the most important anthologies of its kind to appear this century.’ – Hayden Murphy, Sunday Herald

'De Paor is to be praised not only for this introduction, but for the breadth of this fine book...  It is incontrovertibly a fine volume.  Should I ever be asked to choose a desert island book, my choice will be easy.' - Doireann Ni Ghriofa, Modern Poetry in Translation


Louis de Paor reads in Irish and English

Louis de Paor reads eight poems from The Brindled Cat and the Nightingale's Tongue as well as three newer poems (asterisked here) from his forthcoming collection Grá fiar / Crooked Love in Irish and English: ‘An t-amhránaí’ | ‘The singer’; ‘Báisteach’ | ‘Rain’; ‘Didjeridu’ | ‘Didjeridu’; ‘Idir dhá linn’ | ‘In the meantime’; ‘An cruthaitheoir’ | ‘The creator’;’Cloigíní’ | ‘Bells’*; ‘Luascáin’ | ‘Swings’*; ‘Multi-tasking’ | ‘Multi-tasking’*; ‘Marmalade’ | ‘Marmalade’. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed him reading his poems in Irish and English at his home in Uachter Ard, Contae na Gaillimhe (Oughterard, Co. Galway), Ireland, in April 2017. He reads first in Irish, then in English, but with longer poems completes his reading of the Irish original at the end of the English translation. The reading is followed by a short interview in English about writing in Irish and the survival of the Irish language.

Louis de Paor live at Ledbury Poetry Festival

Louis de Paor reads and introduces a selection of his poems in Irish and English at Ledbury Poetry Festival on Friday 8th July 2017, when he shared the stage with fellow Irish poets Jane Clarke and Rita Ann Higgins. The poems he reads are from his dual language edition The Brindled Cat and the Nightingale’s Tongue plus new poems. Filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce.


Louis de Paor: 'Didjeridu'

Louis de Paor recites his poem ‘Didjeridu’ accompanied by Kev Carmody on didjeridu in the opening sequence of An Dubh ina Gheal, a documentary by Paula Kehoe broadcast on the Irish-language TV network TG4 on 27 September 2016. In An Dubh ina Gheal he returns to his once adopted homeland to explore the complex relationship between Indigenous Australians and the Irish in Australia. At the heart of this exploration is the story of the Stolen Generations, mixed race children who were taken away from their families under assimilation policies, and an Aboriginal resistance lead by 'Shamrock Aborigines', who saw theirs as a shared struggle against a common oppressor. Weaving social and personal history with poetry, An Dubh ina Gheal reveals the hidden story of the Irish in Australia. His poem ‘Didjeridu’ is included (in Irish and English translation) in both in his collection The Brindled Cat and the Nightingale's Tongue and in his anthology Leabhar na hAthghabhála/Poems of Repossession.


Co-published with Cló Iar-Chonnachta

Ireland & EU: Click here to order from Books Upstairs in Dublin

USA: Click here to order from Indiebound or


BOOKS BY Louis de Paor

Crooked Love

Louis de Paor

Crooked Love

Grá fiar

Publication Date : 24 Feb 2022

Read More
The Brindled Cat and the Nightingale’s Tongue

Louis de Paor

The Brindled Cat and the Nightingale’s Tongue

Publication Date : 17 Jun 2014

Read More


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