Mise Éire - I am Ireland

Map of Ireland
Ireland April 7th, 1916

This poem was written by Patrick Henry Pearse (Pádraic Mac Piarais), 1879–1916. He was an Irish educator, patriot and poet, educated for the law but early in his career made himself part of the Gaelic movement in Ireland. Pearse was active in the work of the Gaelic League and edited its journal, An Claidheamh Soluis. He founded the influential bilingual St. Enda's School near Dublin. He joined (1913) the Irish Volunteers and commanded the Irish forces in the Easter Rebellion of 1916. Upon his surrender he was tried by court-martial in England and promptly executed. His stories, poems, and plays were collected in 1917, his political writings and speeches in 1922.

Pádraic Mac Piarais (1879–1916)
Mise Éire:
Sine mé ná an Chailleach* Bhéarra

Mór mo ghlóir:
Mé a rug Cú Chulainn cróga.

Mór mo náir:
Mo chlann féin a dhíol a máthair.

Mór mo phian:
Bithnaimhde do mo shíorchiapadh.

Mór mo bhrón:
D'éag an dream inar chuireas dóchas.

Mise Éire:
Uaigní mé ná an Chailleach* Bhéarra.

I am Ireland:
I am older than the old woman* of Beare.

Great my glory:
I who bore Cuchulainn, the brave.

Great my shame:
My own children who sold their mother.

Great my pain:
My irreconcilable enemy who harrasses me continually...

Great my sorrow
That crowd, in whom I placed my trust, died.

I am Ireland:
I am lonelier than the old woman* of Beare.

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Where it is more easy to read the county names.

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The map to the left names the 32 counties of Ireland that Pearse wanted to free from British rule.

"I speak to my people, and I speak in my people's name to the masters of my people. I say to my people that they are holy, that they are august, despite their chains, That they are greater than those that hold them, and stronger and purer, That they have but need of courage, and to call on the name of their God, God the unforgetting, the dear God that loves the peoples For whom He died naked, suffering shame. And I say to my people's masters: Beware, Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people, Who shall take what ye would not give. Did ye think to conquer the people, Or that Law is stronger than life and than men's desire to be free? We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held, Ye that have bullied and bribed, tyrants, hypocrites, liars!" - Excerpt from "The Rebel" by Patrick Pearse.

Perhaps on Nov. 10, 1879, at 27 Great Brunswick St., Dublin, as the mother and father looked down at their newborn son, they had an idea of what his future held. That may explain why they named him Patrick Henry Pearse. Their son would grow to be the embodiment of the words of the American patriot Patrick Henry, who said in the Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775: "I know not what course others might take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" These words would have been an appropriate epitaph on the gravestone of Pearse, the leader of the Easter Rising 1916.

* an Chailleach = old woman = witch
Courtesy of Jack & Vivian, IrishPage.com, February 2009
For phonetics consult the pocket dictionary Fóclóir Póca
or the desk edition Fóclóir Scoile.
County map above courtesy of Eirefirst
Replay background music: Míse Éire seq. by Frank Lennon
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