Track of the day: ‘Áthas’ by The Gloaming

The song 'Áthas' which features on The Gloaming's third album is one of two that draw from the works of the Irish language poet Liam Ó Muirthile. Ó Muirthile belonged to the Innti movement of the late 20th Century which is widely credited with introducing modern cultural influences to Gaeilge poetry.

The band’s vocalist Iarla Ó Lionáird began working on the song in July 2018, after the poem was brought to his attention by his mother, who was a close friend of Liam Ó Muirthile. “A few weeks before he died, my mum rang me and told me that Liam had sent her a page from his book, signed, and it was the poem ‘Áthas’. I knew that he had been unwell, so I understood the significance of the gesture.”

Iarla reads Gabriel Rosenstock's translation of 'Áthas'

Read the lyrics and translation of ‘Meáchan Rudaí’ below

“The poem is about Liam walking the Camino de Santiago,” Iarla explains, “and he is narrating to himself, talking to himself about what he needs to think about these days, and the preoccupations he needs to let go, and I was very struck by the simplicity of it. It also contains the lines that perhaps sum up the whole ethos of the new album, in which death becomes a way to celebrate life: “And I let grief itself / Show without shame / If that’s what I feel.

The Gloaming's Iarla Ó Lionáird and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh talk about the inspiration behind 'Áthas'

Áthas (Joy)

The lyrics of ‘Áthas (Joy)’ come from an Irish language poem of the same name by the Irish poet Liam Ó Muirthile. The English translations of these lyrics come from a poem translation by the Irish poet Gabriel Rosenstock.

© Liam Ó Muirthile. Cóiriú ar an dán ‘Meáchan Rudaí’ ón gcnuasach Camino de Santiago: dánta, poems, poemas, Cois Life (2018)

© Liam Ó Muirthile. An arrangement of the poem ‘Áthas’ from the collection Camino de Santiago: dánta, poems, poemas, Cois Life (2018)

Ag siúl romham
Bím ag cumadh im cheann
Línte is frásaí fánacha
A ritheann liom
Le buille an mhaide
Le rithim na mbonn.
(Línte is frásaí a ritheann liom)

Ní éilím faic (anois) orm fhéin
Ach taithneamh nó greann
A thabhairt dá bhfuil ann,
Is ligim don tocht féin
Nochtadh gan náire
Más é sin m’fhonn.

Rófhada bhíos i ngreim
Ag déantús an dáin,
Is go bhfuil m’aird iomlán
Anois ar charn castán
Á choscairt faoim chaol
Lá seo an áthais tráth an fhómhair im shaol.

Scaoileadh leis ar chuma an éin
A aimsíonn míorúilt sheasta an aeir

Rófhada bhíos i ngreim
Ag déantús an dáin,
Is go bhfuil m’aird iomlán
Anois ar charn castán
Á choscairt faoim chaol
Lá seo an áthais tráth an fhómhair im shaol.

 

Joy (translation by Gabriel Rosenstock)

Walking on
I compose in my mind
Lines or stray phrases
Come to me
With the beat of my stick
With the rhythm of my feet

I demand nothing of myself
But to take a shine or liking
To everything that is
And I let grief itself
Show without shame
If that’s what I feel.

Far too long I was caught up
In the craft of the poem
But now my full attention
Is on a heap of Spanish chestnuts
Grinding under my heel
The joyful autumn day in life’s wheel

I let it go just as a bird
who finds the ongoing miracle of air [ibid.]
[from the poem Flight]

Far too long I was caught up
In the craft of the poem
But now my full attention
Is on a heap of Spanish chestnuts
Grinding under my heel
The joyful autumn day in life’s wheel

Featured release

  • The Gloaming 3

    The Gloaming

    Released 22 February 2019

    World renowned Irish American supergroup The Gloaming return with their highly anticipated third album. Produced by Thomas Bartlett, the album was recorded in New York City at Reservoir Studios. Like its predecessors, it richly reimagines the vernacular of traditional Irish music through a modern prism via elements of post-rock, jazz, contemporary classical, chamber and minimalism.

By Oran Mullan

Main image: The Gloaming's Iarla Ó Lionáird and Martin Hayes during recording sessions for their third album in New York City. Photo credit: Heidi Solander.

Published on Wed, 04 September 19

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