Irish Language Column: Dylan sa Ghleann

Irish Language Column Dylan sa Ghleann

Christy Evans recounts Dylan Thomas’ unhappy stay in Donegal

Tá Gleann Cholm Cille suite i measc sléibhte, tránna deasa agus lochanna in iardheisceart Thír Chonaill. Is áit seanda í, Gleann Cholm Cille. Tá galláin agus tuamaí ársa ann. Bhí cúpla aoi speisialta sa ghleann. Thug Naomh Colm Cille agus a chuid manach an Chríostaíocht go dtí Gleann Colm Cille sa bhliain AC 570. I 1993, chuaigh an file Breatnach Dylan Thomas go Gleann Cholm Cille. Fuair sé teach ar cíos i nGleann Locha, baile beag scaite sa cnoic nach raibh bealach mór ar bith isteach ann.

Ba dhuine sotalach agus ardnósach é, Dylan Thomas, deirtear. Nior thaitin Gleann Cholm Cille leis. Scríobh sé ‘A wild unlettered and un-Frenchlettered country”. Scriobh sé faoi na daoine áitiúla ‘They’re superstitious or mad, whimsy or barmy, and the bloodsports are bloodsports’. D’fhág Dylan Thomas go tobann gan díol as an lóistín a fuair sé! Cuid den Ghaeltacht é, Gleann Cholm Cille.

Chomh maith le sin, tá traidisiúin fada amhránaíochta sean-nós agus fidléireachta ann. Bíonn siad le cloisteáil i bhForas Cultúir Uladh. Bunaíodh Oideas Gael, coláiste lán-Ghaeilge i 1984. Bionn cúrsaí Gaeilge ar gach léibhéal ar siúl i rith na bliana. Eagraíonn Oideas Gael cúrsaí eile i seandálaíocht, i siúl sléibhte agus i ndamhsa, freisin. Níor thaitin Gleann Cholm Cille le Dylan Thomas, ach is cuma linn! Áit bhreá lá ar bith sa bhliain is ea Gleann Cholm Cille. Is áit álainn agus cairdiuil é, lán de stair. Beidh fáilte ‘s fiche romhat ann!

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Gleann Cholm Cille is a lovely valley in south-west Donegal. It’s noted for its many ancient monuments. Saint Colm established a Christian community there in AD 570, but another visitor also caused a stir. In 1933 the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas came to visit. He hired a cottage in Gleann Locha, a remote spot in the hills that could only be reached by foot or on horseback.

From the start, Thomas’ behaviour, it is alleged, upset the locals. The poet definitely did not enjoy his stay. He described the glen as ‘A wild un-lettered and Un- French-lettered country’. Of the locals he wrote ‘They’re superstitious or mad, whimsy or barmy, and the bloodsports are bloodsports’.

Dylan Thomas left the glen suddenly without settling his bill for board and lodging. Gleann Cholm Cille is part of the Donegal Gaeltacht. The glen is celebrated for Irish language singing and for its fiddle music. These traditions are nurtured at the Ulster Cultural Centre in the glen. Oideas Gael, the acclaimed Irish language college was established in 1984.

As well as Irish classes, the college organises courses in art, music, archaeology, hillwalking, weaving and dancing. Dylan Thomas didn’t enjoy his visit to Gleann Cholm Cille, but he seemed very hard to please! The glen is a beautiful place at any time of the year. The people are very friendly, and you’ll be assured of a warm Donegal welcome.

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