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Caribbean colonial poetry, as Gaeilge

Staying In

Pictured Aimé Césaire

Louisburgh priest Fr Pádraig Ó Máille’s first book, ‘Dúdhúchas’, an account of his time in Nigeria was published in 1972. Since then Pádraig has published hundreds of articles in various magazines and two books in English, ‘Living Dangerously’ and ‘A Broad Canvas’.
Fr Pádraig’s latest book was launched in Dublin on January 28. Entitled ‘Nótaí ar Fhilleadh ar mo Thír Dhúchais’ (‘Notebook of a Return to the Native Land’), it is a translation into Irish, of ‘Cahier d’un Retour au Pays Natal’ – a long poem by Aimé Césaire, first published in French in Paris in 1939.
Césaire, a native of Martinique in the West Indies, was one of the early writers from the French-speaking colonies to publish poetry in French. The experience of colonisation and slavery run deeply throughout the poem, and there are constant echoes to and from our own historical experience.
Fr Ó Máille’s translation was launched by Dr Éamon Ó Cíosáin, Professor of French at NUI Maynooth. Praising Fr Ó Máille for his great work and for his dedication and tenacity, Ó Cíosáin applauded the priest for his courage in taking on such a daunting task. In particular, he noted how the lyrical beauty of the original text is captured in the translation.
Fr Ó Máille first came across Césaire’s poem in the mid-1970s while teaching English at the University of Malawi. It made a deep impression on him, and from very early on he had a dream of one day translating the poem into Irish.
During the Dublin launch, the director of Alliance Française, Philippe Milloux, read from the poem in French, while Fr Ó Máille read his own translation of each of the excerpts, reminding those gathered to watch out for parallels with Irish history.
The book is beautifully produced by Coiscéim and is available at a7.50 from Séamus Duffy at The Bookshop, Bridge Street, Westport.