Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 42.djvu/73

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
O'Higgin
O'Higgin
67

fore 1588 an address of forty-five stanzas to Mór, wife of Domhnall MacTadhg MacCathail óg O'Connor Sligo, 'A mhor cuimnig in cumonn' ('Mor, remember the affection'). About 1588 he wrote a warlike address of seventy stanzas urging Sir Brian na Murtha O'Rourke [q. v.] to organise a great attack on the English; it begins, 'D'fior chogaid chomaillter sithchain senfhocal nach saroighter' ('With a man of war it is that peace is observed, the proverb cannot be overcome'). Between 1566 and 1589 he wrote a poem of thirty-nine stanzaa, 'Mairg fhechus ar inischeithleann' ('Woe for him that looks on Enniskillen.'), telling of a visit paid by him to Cuchonnacht óg, chief bf the Maguires, and containing an admimirable description of the daily life and surroundings of a powerful Irish chief in his castle. Other poems, undoubtedly his, but of uncertain date, are 'Ionmhuin baile brugh Leithbhir' ('Dear town of Lifford'), forty-four verses in praise of the county town of Donegal; 'Dia do bheatha a mheic Mhagnuis' ('God save you, son of Manus'), an address of 124 verses to Aedh MacMaghnuis O'Donnell; an epigram on the sept of Mac an Bhaird; 'Fuaras fein im maithn o mhnaoi' ('I myself got good butter from a woman'), a poem against bad butter (copies of these four poems exist in the library of the Royal Irish Academy); 'Fear dana an fear so shiar' ('A man of song this western man'), printed, with a translation of Theophilus O'Flanagan, in 1808 (Tranactions of Gaelic Society of Dublin). His last poem,' Sluagseisir tainic dom thig' ('A Oil of six men came into my house has printed, with a translation by S. H. O'Grady (Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in the British Museum). There is a copy in the library of Trinity College, Dublin (H. l. 17. f. 116 b). The poem is a satire on six O'Haras who had plundered his house.

O'Higgin's verses are written in natural and not pedantic language, and most of them show a genuine vein of poetry, while they give a complete view of the learning, the habits, the lands, and the political views of an Irish hereditary poet, and of the rewards and dangers of his calling. He consistently advocated the laying aside of old feuds, the union of the Irish nations or clans, and the expulsion or extermination of the English. Sixteen other men of letters of his family are mentioned in the chronicles, of whom the most important were:

Tadhg Mór O'Higgin (d. 1316), poet, described by the chroniclers as 'a universal proficient in every branch of art appertaining to poetry.' He was tutor to Mughnus O'Connor Connacht, who died in 1293, He instructed him in warlike exercises, as well as in letters, and taught him to despise any bed-clothes but a shirt of mail. O'Higgin wrote 'Cach én mar a adhba' ('Every bird after his nest'), a poem of forty-two four-line stanzas, in the hectasyllabic metre known as rinnard, addressed to his pupil.

Tadhg óg O'Higgin (d. 1448), poet, son of Tadhg, son of Oillacolumb, the elder O'Higgin, was trained in the poetic art by his brother, Ferghal ruadh, chief of the O'Higgins, and became bard to Tadhg O'Connor Sligo, and afterwards from 1403 to 1410 to Tadhg MacMaelsbeachainn O'Kelly, chief of Ui Maine in Connaught. In 1397 he wrote 'Da roinn comhthroma ar chrich Neill' ('Two equal ports in the territory of Nial'), a poem of forty-seven stanzas, on the inauguration as O'Neill of Nial óg O'Neill, in which he explains that Ulster alone is equal to Connaught, Leinster, Munster, and Meath combined. He wrote another poem of thirty-six stanzas to the same chief, 'O naird tuaid tic in chabair' ('Help comes from the north'). In 1403 he wrote 'Mor mo chuid do chunnaid Thaidg' ('Great my share in the grief for Tadhg') on the death of O'Connor Sligo, and in 1410 one of forty stanzas on the death of Tadhg O'Kelly, 'Anois do tuigfide Tadhg' ('Now Tadhg might be understood'). He also wrote forty-one stanzas, 'Fuilngidh bar len a leth Chuinn' ('Endure your woe, O northern half of Ireland!'), on the dimth of Ulick Mac William lochtair, or Burke; a religious poem of thirty-one stanzas, 'Atait tri comhraic im chionn' ('Three combatants are before me'); and a lament of twenty-eight verses, 'Anocht sgaoiledh na scola' ('To-night the schools are loosed'), for his elder brother, Ferghal ruadh. This last was written when he was thirty years old.

Domhnall O'Higgin (d. 1603), poet, born in Sligo, was son of Brian (J'lliggin, and is described in the 'Annals of the Four Masters' us 'professor of poetry to the schools of Ireland.' He wrote a poem of thirty-three stanzas in praise of Ian MacDonald, 'Misde nach édmar Eire' ('So much the worse that Ireland is not jealous'). He died on his return from a pilgrimage to Compostella.

Matbghamhain O'Higgin (fl. 1584), poet, was bard to the O'Bymea of Wicklow. He wrote a poem of 120 verses in praise of Leinster, and of Feidhlimidh O'Byme, 'Cred do chosg cogadh Laigheann' ('What has checked the war of Leinster?'); and a devotional poem, 'Naomhtha an obair iomradh De' ('A holy work it is to hold