The Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill Night Thread (10/24/21)

Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill (pronounced “noo-la ni gunnel”) is an Irish-language poet who published her first collection in 1981 and is still publishing today. Though Ni Dhomhnaill was born in England (to Irish parents), she was raised in the Dingle Gaeltacht, and, despite living abroad in Turkey and Holland for nearly a decade and speaking six languages fluently, she remains deeply rooted in the Gaeltacht and is a fierce advocate for the Irish language.

An interesting facet of Ni Dhomhnaill’s poetry is that she only writes poetry in Irish, and she does not translate her own poems into English. Instead, the poems are translated by other Irish poets (a frequent collaborator is Paul Muldoon, for instance), and her collections are bilingual — Irish on the left, and English on the right.

So anyone who doesn’t speak Irish can only access Ni Dhomhnaill’s work through not one but two filters — a second language and a second poet.

Here’s Ni Dhomhnaill talking about some of her themes and reading her poem “Cuimhne An Uisce” (“A Recovered Memory of Water”) in both English (via Muldoon’s translation) and the original Irish. From there, she talks a bit more about why she considers the Irish language essential to the Irish identity.

Have a good Night Thread, Avocados! Sláinte chugat!