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A Poem in Irish with Ger Killeen (Ep. 45)

A Poem in Irish

Ger Killeen is a native of Limerick City, Ireland, and resides near Portland, Oregon. He teaches at Marylhurst University. He shares his Irish language poetry, and his experience with the Irish language in Oregon. Discussion podcast about learning to speak Irish Gaelic (in English).

What you’ll hear

  • Ger’s beautiful poem in the Irish language – “Mo Bhean Sa Gháirdín”. The words are below. It’s taken from his book Lia A Léimfidh Thar Tonnta (A Stone That Will Leap Over the Waves), published by Trask House. View it on Amazon.
  • How your language can shape your perception of how you view the world around you. Ger uses this to think through a problem in the Irish language, if he gets stuck in describing adequately it in the English language.
  • How Limerick City has changed (and not changed) since the late 1970s.

Mo Bhean Sa Gháirdín (Poem)

Corcraíonn sí na h-ingne
lena cuid fola féin
ag lorg na sméara dubha
i measc na ndealg,

‘s beireann sí isteach leí
súiteán an tSamhraidh
is taise mhilis na hoibre
a leagann sí ar mo bhéal.
My Wife In the Garden

She paints her nails
with her own blood,
reaching for the blackberries
between the thorns,

carries into the house
the succulence of summer,
drops on my mouth
the sweetness of her labour.
Ger Killeen

Mentioned in the show

Dingle Peninsula Gaeltacht
View of currach fishing boats in Corca Dhuibhne (Dingle Peninsula), County Kerry, Ireland.
  • Ger’s English language book of poetry: Blood Orbits
  • The Irish language in Portland Oregon. Also listen to our interviews from Oregon with Aislinn Adams and Brian Ó Hairt.
  • Limerick City: watch video
  • Nancy Blakes pub in Limerick
  • Dún Chaoin and Corca Dhuibhne, County Kerry. Listen to our interview with writer Felicity Hayes-McCoy who resides there
  • Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Irish language writer
  • Do visit go out of your way to visit the Gaeltacht regions in Ireland. The people there will be honored to hear you even try little phrases in Irish (Gaelic).
  • Song Róisín Dubh:


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6 thoughts on “A Poem in Irish with Ger Killeen (Ep. 45)”

  1. Brian McSweeney

    I loved hearing the poem in Irish. It made me think of Seamus Heaney’s incredible poem, Picking Blackberries. I heard a Sonoma, CA high school student recite that in the annual Poetry reciting contest. My grandmother spoke Gaelic but I never heard her use it. She came to the US at 17 fleeing poverty and sadly left most of her culture behind. I’m determined to learn as much as I can. I have such an instinctive affection for the language, such a longing, so it is great to finally be acting on it. I just visited for the first time at age 60. I’ve memorized many Yeats and O’Donohue poems and now learning the language. The new sounds are especially exciting to hear and try on, almost like the bodies of my ancestors speaking through me…Thank you Eoin and Ger–Brian from Windsor, CA (near SF)

  2. Why flip the last two lines of the translation? It reads just as lovely to say:

    “the sweetness of the labor
    she drops on my mouth.”

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