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The Great Blasket Islands

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The Great Blasket Islands

Visits long ago 
to the Blaskets Islands,
to untouched areas 
on the Dingle peninsula
came to mind 
on this sleet winter’s eve.

The peninsula,
nestled in heather mountains.
The coastline,
tongues of lonely white sand.
waved rocks,
drenched in blue mussels
tide pools, 
alive with shrimps and periwinkles
A sea-salted life
unspoiled and free.

Only marine life remains,
but I still hear the music
our native language,
the voices of Seanchaí
the ballads, sean?s, 
Peig Sayers
who shaped our school years,
her renditions of island life
her mad pise?gs,
handed down 
from generation to generation.

Stories of
Islanders huddled together
under thatch,
open turf fires
cooking pot on a hook,
the sweet air wafting
of clay pipe tobacco
a pinch of snuff
sniffed from a silver box,
nursing a glass 
of neat Poitín, uisce beatha,
the strong smell of tweeds
and geansaí báinín.

I think of times lost,
changed forever.
Cottage ruins,
where goats roam free,
An Blascaod Mór
my history, my heritage.

Gaelic words in this poem

* Seanchaí – storytellers
Sean?s – singing without music
Peig Sayers and her mad pise?gs – A Gaelic writer who we studied in school and her mad superstitions.
Poitín, uisce beatha – very strong alcohol made from potatoes, called the water of life.
geansaí báinín – strong sheep wool sweaters usually in a cream colour with complex patterns.

Copyright © Eiken Laan

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  1. Date: 6/14/2012 5:52:00 AM
    A belated congratulations on your placement in Skat's "My Land Is My Home" contest Eiken. Love, Carol

  1. Date: 6/11/2012 3:38:00 PM
    Congratulations on your well deserved win SKATS contest!!!!

  1. Date: 6/11/2012 1:38:00 PM
    EIKEN, congrats with your beautiful FROM the heart poem about your home and land~, xox* PD

  1. Date: 1/8/2011 6:26:00 AM
    Hi M. Oh how you have captured the feel smell and taste of the Blaskets. A journey from the present into the past that jags memory buttons not here fore known in our subconscious. Liz and Deirdre below are in our writing group so you have a fan club in Tramore. Little wonder, with writing as good as this. 'An Blascaod Mór, my history, my heritage. Thanks for a day brightening read. Eamon

  1. Date: 1/8/2011 4:32:00 AM
    Fantastically written, evocative and filled with beautiful imagery. My daughter lived in Dingle for a few years and loved it - you have captured the soul of the Blasket islands - I have painted 'en plein air' in Ventry and on the islands and derived such pleasure from that. There are quite a few Irish poets on the site - two of them from a writing group that I go to. Kind Regards Eaken - Liz

  1. Date: 1/7/2011 12:55:00 PM
    And one to be very proud of too, Eiken! Again, thanks for opening up this page of Eire's history to me. I love all of it.. the stories, legends, the music and as for the landscape! Forget that...thanks to Natl. Geographic documentaries-I've seen how beautiful your Ireland is. Have a great weekend! Always, Audrey

  1. Date: 1/7/2011 12:19:00 PM
    Wonderful collection of island memories, so vivid. Its beautifully writen. Déirdre