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Mise Raifteirí an File by Antoine Ó Raifteirí – Irish Poem

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Welcome to my weekly top Irish poems list. This week I am sharing number 41 in the top 100 Irish poems list. A short and sweet poem originally written in Irish and translated. It is about the life of the Irish poet. 

I’ve included the Irish first and the English translation alongside it. Although depending on what device you are viewing this on it may be below.  

You might be reading this poem and thinking there is nothing special about it. But amazingly enough, Antoine Ó Raifteirí was a blind poet. He was blinded by smallpox while very Irish poem

While he was alive not a single one of his poems were written down. They were all put to paper after his passing from people who had learnt them off. 

Even more interesting this poem was written on the backside of the Irish 5 Punt note(Ireland’s currency before moving to the Euro). 

He was a wandering poet and musician with a fiddle and like so many vagrant musicians of the time (c. 1784 – 1835 ) was blind. 

Mise Raifteirí an File

Is Mise Raifteirí an file,
Lán dúchais is grádh,
Le súile gan solas,
Le ciúnas gan crá.
Ag dul síar ar m’aistear
Le solas mo chroí
Fann agus tuirseach
Go deireadh mo shlí

Féach anois mé
Is mo chúl le bhfalla
Ag seinm ceoil
Do phócaí folamh


I’m Raftery the poet,
Full of hope and love,
With eyes without sight,
My mind without torment.
Going west on my journey
By the light of my heart.
Weary and tired
To the end of my road

Behold me now
With my back to the wall
Playing music
To empty pockets.

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Nicholas Dunne-Lynch

Friday 22nd of July 2022

Look at me now My arse to the wall Playing music To empty pockets

Surely this is an expression of desperation and futility!!!! The poem has great depth and poignancy. A talented musician, once fsmous and welcomed at all the great houses, is shunned, could it be because the English now control matters and the Irish musicians were no longer welcome?

The punt was replaced by the euro only in 2001, but the Irish pound of the 18th century was the pound, not the punt, which did not come into existence until tbe formation of the Irish Free State. Punt was the official name for the currency, but the correct translation of pound in English was poont. The name punt was invented by finance people whi did not understand how to pronounce the fada, the grave accent over the o .