An Spailpín Fánach on this year’s Irish exam Part I
June 7, 2017
An Spailpín Fánach on this year’s Irish exam? Part I
An Spailpín Fánach is one of five poems assigned for students to study in preparation for Irish Paper 2.
You can find the English translation of An Spailpín Fánach, plus our summary of it, below.
An Spailpín Fánach The Wandering Farmhand
Go deo deo arís ní raghad go Caiseal,
Bodairí na tíre ag teacht ar a gcapaill,
Never again will I go to Cashel,
The bucks of the country coming on their horses,
Im Spailpín Fánach fágadh mise,
Ní fheicfear corrán im’ láimh chun bainte,
I was left as a Spailpín Fánach,
You’ll not see a hook in my hand for harvesting,
Mó chúig céad slán chun dúiche m’athar,
Ach anois ó táimse im chadhan bhocht dhealbh,
Five hundred farewells to the land of my father,
But now that I am poor, miserable and alone,
Is ró-bhreá is cuimhin liom mo dhaoine bheith sealad,
Acht b’é toil Chríost é gur cuireadh sinn asta,
I well remember my people were at one time,
But it was the will of God that we were evicted,
The life of an itinerant farm worker in Ireland up into the 20th century was extremely harsh. Hard physical labour, low wages and maltreatment by landowners had to be endured by these men and women. Even the word ‘Spailpín’ came to mean a person of low or poor character. This is a lament of a man who had to become a Spailpín because of his family’s eviction. To avoid this terrible life, he joined the French army to fight overseas.