Oíche na Gaoithe Móire – May 1997

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Oídhce na Gaoithe Moire is the title of a poem, composed by Micheál A’ Burca or Michael Burke of Esker. He wrote it in 1840, the year after the great storm of 1839, known as ‘The Big Wind’. I have in my possession a little book of poems in Irish entitled ‘Tacar Amhrán’. It was published in 1925 by M.H. Gill and Son, now Gill and Macmillan. The material was collected and compiled by Pádraic Ó Domhnalláin. The cover of the book states that it was specially recommended by the Ministry of Education. It includes poems by well-known poets like Raftery and O’Carollan.

Alltogether the book contains poems by fifteen poets. Oídhce na Gaoithe Móire is comparable to the best of them, as it has some descriptive and sophisticated use of the Irish Language and runs to a total of fifteen verses. Tacar Amhrán states that Michael Burke was born in Esker, Athenry. He emigrated to America shortly after writing the poem and lived there for the remainder of his life.

Peter Carr in his documentary book, “The Night of the Big Wind”, included a few verses of “Oíche na Gaoithe Móire” and quotes that Michael Burke was born in Esker. But, as Esker is such a common placename in Ireland he was not sure where it was situated.

The Night of the Big Wind was Sunday Night, the sixth of January 1839, The Twelfth Day. According to Michael Burke’s poem, the storm commenced around 9.30 p.m. It does not mention how long it lasted.

The first verse goes as follows:

Oíche Chinn an Dá Lá Dhéag
Beidh cuimhne ghrinn go héag
Is iomdha mílte déag
I mbailte, muir is tír
Oíche gaoithe móire
Oíche stoirme is dóigh í
Dhéan coillte, crainnte ’stróicheadh
Agus obair do na saoirích

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About this record

Written by Eugene Duggan

Published here 13 Feb 2023 and originally published May 1997

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