“Conas tá an misneach?” / “How is the courage?”

I have been reading the beautifully produced book Aneas – Saíocht ó thraidisiún Gaelach na Mumhan. This book features various proverbs, sayings and idioms of Munster Irish, with a text accompanying each in both Irish and English (interestingly, while the texts are similar in theme and sentiment, they are not direct translations of each other) The book features haunting photos by Lanke Haouche Perren (the cover is reproduced below and the photo below is from Haouche Perren’s LinkedIn page)

Aneas 21.1.14-600x600

“Conas tá an misneach?”

Ar an misneach a mhairimid. Coimeádann sé an dé ionainn, nuair a chaithimid coimeád sa tsúil, agus an saol dorcha timpeall orainn, go drí go ngealann an ghrian aris dúinn. Rud a dhéanann, le foighne. Aithníonn an beannú coitianta seo i gCora Dhuibhne tábacht an mhisnigh, tuigeann sé a leochaileacht, tacaíonn sé lena fhorbairt. Léargas deas é ar fhealsúnacht an chultúir.


Éilíonn gach aon tsaol agus gach aon tréimhse sa tsaol, a mhisneach uathach féin. Agus ins na laethanta diana trína bhfuil an oiread sín daoine ag streachailt faoi láthair, ni mór misneach a chothú. Níl aon rud buan. Casfaidh an roth.  Mar a deir ráiteas gaoiseach eile:

“Is mairg a báitear le linn an anaithe / Mar tagann an ghrian in ndiadh na fearthainne”


My own translation of this (apologies for any errors, and the English text from the book is certainly more elegant as a piece of prose):

We live on courage. It keeps us going, when we come across difficulties in our way, and life is dark around us, until the sun shines again on us. It does things to us. This saying from Corca Dhuibhne reminds us of the importance of courage, it understands it is fragile, it needs to be given support. It is a good insight into the philosophy of the culture.

In every life and in every period of life, courage is needed. And these days of trial, when so many people are struggling, courage must be maintained. Nothing is permanent. The wheel turns. As another saying has it:

“Sad the  he who drowns in the storm / for the sun comes after the rain”

The English text in the book:

This is a common greeting in Corca Dhuibhne. It reveals a great deal about the culture of the region. Courage is fundamental to a good life, sustaining us through the bad times, allowing us to reach the good. The question in itself implies communal support for the individual in daily life. It indicates a comprehension of the volatility of courage: it ned not always be strong, it may waver, it needs support and development.

In  modern society where chaos threatens, and social systems under strain, the need for courage is manifest. It is well to remember that cycles change. The sun shines again. no matter how strong the storm. We endure, things will improve. Keep up your courage, and accept the help of those who help you to sustain it.


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