A Lament for Art O’Leary. Irish University Press (1971)
Book ID: 65158
A Lament for Art O’Leary. Translated from the Irish by Frank O’Connor. With six Illustrations in Colour by Jack B. Yeats. Irish University Press, 1971. Small folio. Quarter linen paper boards, a nice bright copy.
A facsimile issue of the originally edition published by The Cuala Press, 1940.
Frank O’Connor, although better known for his short stories, was a scholar of the Irish language and translated many poems into English. His version of the ‘Lament’ is regarded as magnificent, capturing Eibhlín Dubh’s passion and fierceness and the rhythm and cadence of her keen.
Art O’Leary was a handsome young cavalry officer in the army of Maria Theresa of Austria. He returned to Ireland upon his marriage to Eibhlín Dubh and they had two children. She was pregnant with a third when he was shot dead by order of Abraham Morris, a local magistrate, when Art refused to sell Morris the horse he had brought back from his service in the Austro-Hungarian army for £5, as required by the Penal Laws (The Penal Laws stated that no Catholic might own a horse worth more than £5 and could be forced to sell a more valuable one on demand to any Protestant at this price). His wife Eibhlín composed this long poem “Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire” (Lament for Art O’Leary), mourning his death and calling for revenge. O’Leary is buried at Kilcrea Friary near Ovens, County Cork.
“Lo Arthur Leary, generous, handsome, brave, Slain in his bloom lies in this humble grave.”