Christy Ring

He aimed at the impossible
each Sunday on the pitch;
sometimes he succeeded.

Down on one knee,
trapped in the corner of a field,
when his prechristian electronic eye
lit up in combat,
and the ball, a missile,
sped from him straight above the bar,
the air shook in awe.

When a driving lunge
brought him clear beyond
the ruck of men,
and the ball, propelled,
self-destructed in the net
to smithereens of light,
our cheering became a battle cry.

In one moment of raw frenzy
as his playing days ran out,
he summoned Cú Chulainn
to aid him on the pitch:
his trunk swelled up
in sight of thousands,
one eye bulged
and danced, demented…

* Christy Ring was the Babe Ruth of the Irish sport of hurling

by Louis de Paor | translated by the poet

From An Leabhar Mòr: The Great Book of Gaelic, © the author.

Louis de Paor was born in Cork in 1961. His most recent collection is Corcach agus Dánta Eile, which was published in a bilingual edition in Australia as Cork and Other Poems. Other collections include Próca Solais is Luatha30 Dán and Aimsir Bhreicneach/Freckled Weather.

Featuring the work of more than 200 poets, calligraphers and artists, An Leabhar Mòr is a unique collection of Irish and Gaelic poetry, from the sixth century to the present day, and includes the earliest Gaelic poem in existence.

Poets include Iain Crichton Smith, Louis de Paor, Sorley MacLean, Aonghas Dubh MacNeacail, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Máirtín Ó Direáin. Each poem appears in the original Irish or Gaelic, accompanied by an English translation. The poems were selected by well-known poets Seamus Heaney, Hamish Henderson and Alastair MacLeod, and by the contributing poets themselves. One hundred artists (50 from each country) were specially commissioned to produce an original and individual work of art to complement each poem. They include Robert Ballagh, Steven Campbell, Shane Cullen, Alan Davie, Rita Duffy and Alasdair Gray.

The O’Brien Press is one of Ireland’s leading trade publishers. A wide selection of free teaching resources for this title, together with audio clips of some poets reading their work and musical renditions of some of the poems, is available from the website. This title and all O’Brien Press books are available to buy direct from the website or from Amazon.