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An Spailpín Fánach on this year’s Irish exam Part II

June 8, 2017

An Spailpín Fánach on this year’s Irish exam? Part II

Read our analysis of the poem An Spailpín Fánach now.

An Spailpín Fánach

Missed Part 1? Read "An Spailpín Fánach on this year’s Irish exam? Part I" Now

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 analysis of it, below.

The Wandering Farmhand (what so many Irishmen became as the result of eviction up until the 20th century in Ireland)


Never again will I go to Cashel,
Selling and trading my health, (as a hired hand, a paid slave)
Nor to the hiring-fair, sitting by the wall,
A lounger on the roadside,

The bucks of the country coming on their horses,
Asking if I’m hired, (the image of a life spent and lived waiting for others to live theirs)
"Oh, let’s go, the journey is long"
Off goes the Spailpín Fánach. (‘off goes’ stresses the perceived worthlessness of their existence)

I was left as a Spailpín Fánach, (I was reduced to…)
Depending on my health,
Walking the dew early in the morning,
Catching all the illnesses going around, (evokes the harsh conditions the farmhands had to endure)

You’ll not see a hook in my hand for harvesting,
A flail or a short spade,
But the flag of France over my bed,
And the pike for stabbing. (now the speaker fights others, instead of the land itself)

Five hundred farewells to the land of my father,
And to the dear island,
And to the boys of Cualach because they never
feared in the troubled times on defense,

But now that I am poor, miserable and alone,
In these foreign lands, (even though life was hard there, the speaker still misses home)
I’m heart-broken because I got the call
to be a Spailpín Fánach. (the speaker believes their hardship has stemmed solely from this event)

I well remember my people were at one time,
Over at the bridge at Gáil,
With cattle, with sheep, with little white calves,
And plenty of horses, (once, their family prospered)

But it was the will of God that we were evicted,
And we were left with only our health,
And what broke my heart everywhere I went, (the speaker believes they were doomed, forsaken by God)
"Call here, you Spailpín Fánach." (these words would never let them forget how their life has turned out)

Want More? Check out our An Spailpín Fánach File anaithid Ardleibhéal by an Irish teacher now!

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