Amhráin Cearbhalláin
The Poems of Carolan

by Tomas O’Maille

Carolan is best known today from the wide and popular performances of his music as instrumental pieces, however, at the time of composition most of the tunes were actually vehicles for Carolan’s own verse during a period when nearly all Gaelic verse was performed by being sung. Unfortunately the early collectors of Carolan’s music tended not to record the words at the same time which has led to his songs fading somewhat into the background.

Amhráin CearbhalláinThe Poems of Carolan, Together with Other N. Connacht and S. Ulster Lyrics by Tomas O’Maille, Professor of Irish at University College, Galway, were published in 1916 by the Irish Text Society as its 17th volume, and was the first real attempt to assemble a critical academic edition of Carolan’s poetry. Although the poems themselves are only given in Gaelic, the historical introduction and notes on the language used, (pages 16–108), and the notes on the songs themselves, (pages 271-337) are in English along with both a Gaelic/English and English/Gaelic glossary, (pages 338–386).

Like all early written sources this work has to some extent been overtaken by time and interested readers should also add to their reading list a more recent collection of critical essays delivered at a seminar held at University College, Cork in November 2006. Amhrain Chearbhallain / The Poems of Carolan: Reassessments, edited by Liam P O’Murchu was published by the Irish Texts Society as Subsidiary Series 18, (2007).

If you prefer, you may follow this link to Tomas O'Maille's work Amhráin Cearbhalláin — The Poems of Carolan where it is hosted by You may download the book in various forms on that site, including PDF and Kindle.

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