Recitation: Potato Battle, part 1
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Recitation: Potato Battle, part 1

keberoxu 15 Jul 16 - 04:45 PM
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Subject: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 1
From: keberoxu
Date: 15 Jul 16 - 04:45 PM

From the poem's preface: "Remember there is little sin and no truth in the writing, and therefore the author's excuse is acceptable." --Seán Ó Neachtain

From the anthology's introduction: "From the time of the Williamite wars, the native Irish were often represented as potato-eaters....Nevertheless, not everyone in Ireland favoured the cultivation of potatoes, and there seems to have been strong opposition to it in County Dublin and the neighbouring rich lands. This is apparent from a long poem in Irish:


"There is a prose preface, and this in turn is preceded by a letter to the reader, see pp. 24 - 25. The poem is a burlesque by Seán Ó Neachtain on a faction fight at Tallaght near Dublin. It will be seen that in the poem the potato is referred to as 'the Spaniard.' This is in accordance with the old Irish belief that the potato came into this country from Spain."

starting on page 26: THE BATTLE OF THE GAP OF ST. BRIDGET'S CROSS translated from Gaelic to English by Mrs. Nessa Doran, born Nessa Ní Shé/Ní Shéaghdha

Here for you is the Battle of the Gap, which was fought hard and with multitudes, between those who eat porridge and the followers of the beloved potato. 1

First comes McManus, with a full stake from his harvest, he beseeches the God of grace to destroy the potato from Europe.

"Are the potatoes not alone responsible for the absence of demand for barley; are they no responsible for the disrespect shown for the gentle wheat and beans!

"They cause disrespect for the peas; the oats are only a rattle, and the rye only a bundle rods says every ugly man along with him.

"Those who taste potatoes are like oil bags, big bellied, ugly, greedy, without the strength of one in eight men." 5

Says fierce William Brophy, the man who feeds the thousands, "You lie, you fool, you swarthy stump full of manure."

Both of them rose to a contest with vigour and cleverness, but the bottom of the long-limbed man of the beans was thrown aloft.

He put a foot under the ugly one and kicked his bottom on high, and he gave him a fist in the stomach which brought a roar from his breeches.

They struck each other after that, the farmer of the grain lands and a strong follower of the potato on their way to the Gap of Bridget's Cross.

Exchanging gauntlets with each other, these two did quickly on behalf of the friends of the Spaniards and the farmers of the grain lands. 10

The coming, as was aforesaid, of the thousands of valiant warriors of the followers of the beans and the potato -- they came according to promise.

High tents were ePOST HTTP/1.1 Host: User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:38.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/38.0 Accept: text/html,application/xhtml xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8 Accept-Language: en-US,en;q=0.5 Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate Referer: Cookie: __utma=6574894.464123341.1468614055.1468614055.1468614055.1; __utmb=6574894.21.10.1468614055; __utmc=6574894; __ut

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 2
From: keberoxu
Date: 15 Jul 16 - 04:56 PM

part 2

High tents were erected, and white and grey pavilions of blue and green branches, they erected tabernacles.

Every host was formed into ranks and cleverly into camps, and every valiant chief of troops was giving encouragement to his own company.

There the gentle men closed in over every part of the plain -- not negligently nor falsely, but like brave men capable of fighting.

Fierce William [Brophy] caught McManus, he doubled him up in a knot, there was not a bone left in his bottom that was not broken.                                                                                                                                  15

He made smithereens of five ugly men of McManus's people; the hammering of his vigour on their bodies was like thunder.

Then John Harris said, while sitting on swift stately steed: "Go away, you stranger, where is Domhnall Óg for action?

"Woe is me! if this swift warrior of the great deeds were no doubt alive, he would be at the head of the hosts in the camp.

"Since he is not alive who would go down on behalf of my uncle, though they are like stones in water, here I go to join you in the dross."

Here is what Peter Wallis said: "Those who are not defeated, rout them into a trap, those who survived the contest against the skeletons of the peas."         20

Tomás McCann said, and he full of beer and cake from his stomach up to his neck like the big bag of the pipes:

"Where are the people of the potatoes, the people of the spade and the shovel, the stock of the whey and fraughans, the people of the cheese without cream?"

When he had finished his saying, the churl had brown George in his fist, and he tumbled six valiant men angrily on the road.

The oven-stick [ladle] was in his knobby claw, and he overthrew nineteen men of the potato feasters with it.

With a spike he hit Matthew Nolan angrily in the forehead -- a big man, Nolan, well able for fight.                                    25

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 3
From: keberoxu
Date: 15 Jul 16 - 05:07 PM

part 3

He put him kneeling on one knee, and he left one of his eyes crushed; and when he arose, he shouted loudly:

"Damnation to you for a brother, you are your mother's servant -- no, you are related to the devil. You dark mysterious hog of the churlish cheek."

With the same spike he hit the son of Séamus Tracey, and he sent Séamus Ó Hanlon on one knee to the ground.

He broke the spike at the hilt on the son of Gorma MacGhaoithín; the giant made a laughing-stock of the son of Eoin MacNamara.

The churl who was running for the purpose of vengeance stumbled, and six men together lay on top of him.                               30

The human devil arose in spite of the six men's efforts, and this periwinkle broke sixteen skulls.

The son of stern Donough of the School came with great threats; but he was flung high on his bottom like a child in a bog hole.

The school-master from Old Court went to subdue the giant; and though great his arrogance, his body was in the mire.

Andrew Ó Hanlon was under the knee of the puck; and had not Seán put him off, he would have made shreds of his buttock.

But to Seán himself without laughter he dealt a blow to his ear which left him stretched on the ground -- though Seán was no mean warrior.                                                 35

Peter Pearse was knocked out by him, Dermot McGlennon also, big Seán Ó Meara was tumbled by him -- that man lost an arm.

Phelim Ó Farrell fell, Seán Ó Seanchiudh who was strong, big Manus Ó Mulreidy and Donough Mooney his brother fell.
He knocked Dearmuid Ó Cuileabhain though he was a dauntless fighter; he tumbled Dombhnall Ó Comáin, the son of Ó Baothain and an Strangach [L'Estrange].

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 4
From: keberoxu
Date: 15 Jul 16 - 05:17 PM

part 4

He knocked Murchadh the son of Séamus, a man who was strong on land and people would find it incredible that Murchadh could be stopped by anyone.

He lifted a stone on his shoulders -- the weight of six men -- and he flung it at the forehead of Brian (of the lies) Fox.                40

He beheaded him and he struck Maolradh with a sword in such a manner that made him a dead man as if a full castle had fallen on him.

He gave a blow in the stomach to wise Conn Ó Ceallaigh and he brought three large potatoes from his throat unto the ground.

He flung Murchadh McScally on his knees after making mincemeat of him; a blow from the fingers of this periwinkle took three teeth out of Mulrooney.

He gave a start to the children, who were in the fields in front of them, bu which he knocked down six together of those who were pleading for the beans.

Woe to them who opposed him when they realised their mistake; it was as if demons were driving them the way in which they all fled before him.                                     45

It was like a bear chasing very many frightened lap-dogs, that is how this plague acted all over the plain.

"A plague on the ugly churl who took away my cheese from me, giving it to robbers while I was far away at the time."

Without pity he swept his cap off glum Brian McBreasail who was without a rib of hair on his scalp which was scabby.

Alastair Eustace caught this great Judas of a churl, although he was the worse for it, because Eustace got a lashing for it.

The human devil knocked every unprotected person at the assembly, but the people behind him caught his legs.                        50

In such a manner that they knocked under them the club-footed giant of the meal, but before this periwinkle was tied, he choked six people in his plight.

But many of his brethren got his freedom for the big-limbed greedy one, and they got permission for him to return to his bakery; and when he got his freedom, he went.

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 5
From: keberoxu
Date: 15 Jul 16 - 05:26 PM

part 5

Captain Seely, who was not loyal to James, asked: "Are there any Spaniards alive, or are their friends abandoning them?"

"I am one of their friends, O corpulent person," said Thomas Haughey, and above him in the trench this worthy person gave him a drink.

Ross MacQuinn knocked his brother beloved Mark from Cork; it is certain you would laugh if you saw his legs up.                              55

Then Dicky Martin said, a man who was not surpassed in strength: "I give fame, honour, glory to the potato for strength and hospitality."

He said to the son of his uncle: "You fat bum-king from Fingal, will you stand for your country or dare you venture a fall?"

Then his brother and another churl you would not consider big, put a broom leaf into his mouth as if he were a baby on the mound.

Valiant Conn Ó Connor gave Manus from the Soft Stream a blow so that he fell into a cowardly faint, as if he had been cut to the bones.

Eoin MacSlevin gave a blow of a spike to the churl, and he soon uttered yells and fled swiftly at a trot.                         60

Quinn from Clondalkin came merrily (half drunk) on his nag; Geoffrey hit Quinn, and sent him tumbling to the ground.

"Come along," said Bowman sternly as a Turk, and he flung him with his rump up on the granary without delay.

Reidy of Dunboyne came on a fresh horse giving the challenge of the mountain; he was soon tumbled.

Richard Keating came on a steed with ease, until big Timothy Quillan broke the bones of his back on stones.

Séamus Cummins, the cart-man from Howth, said: "I will catch the people of the province who have denied the potato root."       65

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 6
From: keberoxu
Date: 15 Jul 16 - 05:35 PM

part 6

Yellow Henry came not without heart for the fight; and he put Rust Dancing head first into the well.

Big Matthew Ó Nolan on a young full-sized brindled-horse said: "By golly, where are the churls, I will make wells of their breasts.

"I see amongst the strongest two hundred of the people of the granary, I swear that I will break their bones to pieces.

"Oh the mass of miserable ones! Let me have the churls, by Jove, I give my word if I don't have my full wish on them."

He made threats and commotion, and a great amount of abusing; fear and terror were on the people of the peas and the grain.                70

In such a manner were they stricken with fear, that they refused to fight the tall noisy one, they would rather run into the sea than fight near him.

Richard Nolan who had many reaping hooks for the harvest said: "Where is Dennis of the Boat, I will take a lump out of his rump."

"I am here,"   said Dennis,   "little is my interest in your strength, I will take a stack of beans soon out of your bottom."

He caught him underneath his waist, took a jolt out of him, and threw him, by Jove you would deem it good fun to hear his bottom grunting.

Cian McCabe came to Dennis to avenge the insult; but no matter how good his defence, the last sigh left his loins.                  75

Dennis of the noisy deeds overthrew big Murchadh Fox, Charles Ó Cleary, Seán McShea, and Machise.

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 7
From: keberoxu
Date: 15 Jul 16 - 05:45 PM

part 7

Frederick Ó Daly fell, besides Kandal Ó Loughnan, fifty brave righteous warriors fell by Dennis in that encounter.

He performed deeds of valour which will never be forgotten while a stone remains in Burren and deceit remains in the English.

An Strangach from Ballyculane, though he was full of fight, was flung bottom up right into the middle of the bog.

An Róbhach on a swift dun-coloured fresh horse said powerfully:
"Come ye followers of the potato if shame will permit you."          80

Peadar Ó Muighruin said, and he full of malice: "By Jove! I will break a spear on you no matter how much you love the beans."

They ran towards each other from every part of the plain, you never saw such a fight before since the beginning of every battlefield.

Seventeen strong they ran until their wind was broken; you never saw such turmoil since Eve was made a lover.

He gave Peadar a painful blow in the thigh; and though An Róbhach was strong, he gave him a blow with the back of his hand which tumbled him.

He took his ear off him, oh! what a hateful blow; by the Mass-Book, it was shame that did not let him leave the mound.                85

When with an angry blow he cut the penis off Peadar, the wife of Peadar who was then present said: "may your hands be taken off you.

"May you not be able to stretch to hit any part of a body, may trouble never part from you, may you turn into a cuckold."

....where is all this from? Thought you would never ask:

"An Anthology of the Potato"
editor: Robert McKay
publication: Dublin: Allen Figgis & Co., Ltd., for Irish Potato Marketing Company, Ltd. , (©?) 1961

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 1
Date: 15 Jul 16 - 06:54 PM

Matthew 5:13-19

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 8
From: keberoxu
Date: 16 Jul 16 - 04:50 PM

part 8

Peadar was full of fight; he grabbed a sword from Dennis's hand, and like a mad gust of wind he dealt him one or two blows.            

Another strong blow he gave the man in his forehead, like shoots of sorrow were the three screams he gave.

He sent him bellowing and screeching, which brought a sigh from his breast, till everyone in sight thought his soul had left him.      90

There came to offer them hope a big fat tyrannical man whom everyone called conqueror, and he received his fall in the plain.

Generous Farrell came on a fine horse from Grange of Dunboyne; he said to the friends of the Spaniards: "Give us a bout of fight."

Séamus from the Stream said: "Great is your rousing pride; though I am bent and very old, I will not let your threat go without an answer."

"I am sorry for you," said Tomás, "great is my grief because of you since you are a veteran at the end of your age."

"Although I am old, I will give you a fight; I will make fun of the lot as if I were in the height of my youth."                     95

They ran here like wings, great was their overpowering turmoil; my Tomás was knocked to the ground, and his nag with him.

Cubhaille from Saggart comes on a bright white well-fed horse, he came on the plain dressed in a protecting suit of armour.

He said fiercely and angrily:   "Where are the people of the potato, will cowardice let them shoot a spear or two?"

"Here I am," said Richard Devlin, "and you are no better to me than noddies, your shouting means no more to me than the noise of henchmen."

These two attacked each other like experts without weakness or cowardice; the likes of their bravery was not seen since man first took up arms.                                                 100

At last the yeoman of the peas fell, he got a fall which broke his thighs; you would be sorry for the amount of groans which his ardent companions made.

Ó Regan was struck in the shoulder with a couple of blows; the fool was flung by his bottom up on the cross beam (that supports the chimney in a house).

He knocked Eoin Finnegan and Brian Loughnan the smith; he tumbled Fearghal Ó Hairne who used to be brave as a churl.

He knocked and overpowered the son of Breasal MacGlámha and he caused a fall -- a warrior's shame -- to the husband of Una Ní Áirne.

He gave a blow of his pike with lively strength to the son of Corcoran; he flung him up by his bottom and broke the bones of his hand.                                                          105

You would enjoy Hugh Ó Hanlon as he was fiercely and strongly holding Taylor from Esker and making mincemeat of his bones.

Tomás Collins knocked Seán Fitzgibbon to the ground; he did the same to Seán Pearse which gave him a fever.

Malachy Delaney, a man who was never reviled in an ale-house, he gave a blow of his spike across the mouth to MacNamara.

William Murphy gave a blow of a rasp to Locke, which left him the following day very weary on his mattress.

From Godamindy to the battle came Cummins like a spectre; he was coming like a router from a hill.                                 110

Simon Martin came -- a man who was not excelled in combat -- he said without hatred or quarreling: "Where are you, O child of the beans?"

They made action and shooting, wrestling and fighting, deeds of valour and great achievements, which excelled the fame of every hero.

At last the man of the grain was knocked by the Potato hospitaller; there was not left in them the strength of valour or wonderful deeds.

Quickly after that he went like a rushing eagle with dry claws with nineteen of his people, and he fettered fine steady Simon.

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 9
From: keberoxu
Date: 16 Jul 16 - 05:52 PM

part 9

Then the followers of the peas said fiercely, bloodily and hatefully: "Malediction and a curse be on the followers of the potato, and distortion also.                                     115

"May slaughter fall on them, and strong frost without snow; may they lack oats, grass, wood and shelter."

Said another man: "You greedy worms of the beans, may bounty never fall on you and may bounty be for us."

Then Dennis Healy came -- a good-hearted person without doubt -- he said Amen to that, as I myself say without wrangling.

The followers of the potatoes gathered from all the quarters of Ireland, and the followers of the peas gathered; and they were truly loyal to each other.

The next morning when the day cleared, they opposed each other when the sun was rising (lit., going into its chariot).             120

They came brightly at the top of every pass, the people of the peas and beans and the people of the potato-roasting.

Dennis Nolan spoke to them all cleverly: "Do you hear me, O friends, ye who are present.

"Have courage and wisdom, be faithful to each other, and ye will soon beat the people of the porridge from the land."

Then a mighty shout was raised and they all took courage; because of the ability of the sage of the Spaniards, the victory went against the people of the peas.

They rushed against each other like a strong wind through oak trees, or like an ocean storm against the rocks of the sea coast.      125

They made soft ground of hard rock, they made hard rock of the swamp; all the heathery patches of the fields were drowned with their blood.

There were boastful shouts at each other, shouts of screeching and screaming, shouts of crying and lamenting, from every side of the plain.

There were moans and groans, noise and crunching, lashing and wounding, and slaughtered bodies under the feet.

There was a thrusting of straps for horses in the cattle-field, and an echoing battle fury amongst their livestock, everyone's nag against each other and a lamenting burning on bodies.

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 10
From: keberoxu
Date: 16 Jul 16 - 06:05 PM

part 10

There was a hurly-burly amongst them and the strength of fierceness without wanting; heads, feet and bones were stretched on the place. 130

Indeed I did laugh seeing Seán MacSheery stretched on the ground stuffing bread and cheese in his nose.

Sad was the reason for laughter to see Conn MacGara on his knees without anger or hatred, saying his rosary while Mr. Sharkey was stripping him.

Rory MacGeoffrey gave a blow to Colley so that he fell immediately on the ground lifeless.

Fierce Brian Brophy gave a full hard blow with a sharpened blade which took the top of Marcus's head off.

Brian Óg McRose gave fat Conn McCabe a blow in the head with a coulter which made his death imminent.                         135

William-of-the-blows McHaughey made fierce battle with McHester; he put his mouth to the back of his head with a fierce stroke of his sword.

Hugh McPhelim came brandishing his shield and challenging the people of the plain to do deeds of valour.

Breasal MacArdle came -- a man full of heart -- though full of strength in the battlefield, nevertheless he was left on his backside at the gathering.

Beloved Eoin McDonnell came, and he took the top of the nose off black Brian Cahill, and there was indeed strong valour.

Myles McEvilly -- a man who never turned away from the fight -- he put a great thick spear through the body of Maolradh McCullough. 140

Brave Charles McCann came, -- a prince who was seldom without a potato -- and he put the step-son of Diarmuid MacKey into a dying condition.

Peter Ó Loughnane -- he was a jolly pup -- caught the throat and wind-pipe of the son of Michael Ó Dowd.

He got a strong hold -- though his enemy was powerful -- of the knobbly wind-pipe of powerful warlike Muiris.

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 11
From: keberoxu
Date: 16 Jul 16 - 06:21 PM

part 11

Conor Ó Kelly came like a wild dog after sheep, and he got a shot of a strong spear from valiant Eoin McKeever.

Dennis Healy -- a prince who was not stingy under any loss -- struck and fired his two hands on the forehead of cheerful Brian McCosgraigh.                                                    145

A blow which blinded his eyes and made his tongue silent; and before he left the spot his death came suddenly.

Patrick McEgan knocked McHelan into a ghost; he made fragments of his bones, and of McGrain's afterwards.

Diarmuid Ó Mulranny gave a blow in the eyebrow to Malachy Ó Mulreedy which left him stretched on the ground.

Breasal Carney gave a lash with a spade in the breast to Connor Mac an Diachuir who was as wild as a cock.

Black Tadgh Mooney gave a thrust of a pike in the stomach which took a screech and a moan out of the tall-headed Tadhg McJames.       150

Fergal Devlin gave a blow with the shaft of his spear which left strong William Sheehy stretched on the ground.

William Ó Muighruin knocked Brian Ó Dormin on the ground; Diarmuid Murphy knocked Mr. Donoghue into the mire.

"A thousand welcomes to you, O son-in-law," said swift Pearse Keating when he flung to the ground, fat Brian McEdmund.

"May your neck be now broken,"   said deceitful Deincalach, "if you are under the feet of angry Conn McCourt."

Charles McGuinness gave Giollálosa Nevin a blow which made and empty mass of him which brought sorrow on his brother.          155

Big Diarmuid Ó Callaran, who was a churl, drove a nail at Charles which blinded the sight of his eyes.

Patrick Fitzsimon gave Eoin a blow with a big cudgel on the top of his skull which made him howl.

Philip Martin, a man who was usually glum, hit Bartley Cooney with a broad flagstone.

The school master gave a well-measured blow to McKeever, which made fragments of his hand, and left the poor fool defeated.

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 12
From: keberoxu
Date: 16 Jul 16 - 06:34 PM

part 12

This is the time that the crowd of enemies attacked each other, knocking each other over, fiercely, stoutly and strongly.          160

Great was the horror to be in the midst of the field; great was the fear to be that time in the plain.

There was braying and jumping of horses, and sparks of fire from blades, and fierce crying and shouting in every quarter of the plain.

There were sparks (lightening) from breast plates, clashing from shields, breaking of helmets between all men in the plain.

The leaders were urging them on as they were controlling the hosts; warriors were shouting as they were all fighting hard.

There were many heads and shoulders there that time without life in them; there were many horsemen with one eye at the renewal of the battle.                                                       165

Many a leg was broken and many a face was cut; many a fine man was without limbs who was in the fierce fight that day.

Many a face was wounded of the people who feast on potatoes; many a head was cut of the people who consume grain.

Many skulls were broken and also thighs and loins; many waists and necks were cut in the turmoil of the fight.

The people of the potatoes lost many furlongs of their land; indeed they would have lost the victory, except they renewed their valour.

Fiercely they got together as if they were Samsons so that they routed from the grass of the mountain the valiant people of the grain.                                                          170

Forceful, lively, the striking victorious valiant was every great man; noisy and swift was the lashing which the shields of the people of the grain got.

The warriors of the Old Court came well-packed to the spot; they routed the people of Clondalkin like many whirlwinds down the slope.

The people of Ballyboy came from behind the mountain; they came and they banished them three miles to Howth.

Everyone from Ceidin to Brittas came in a powerful gathering, they made a slaughtering in the province; the warriors were deceitful.

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 13
From: keberoxu
Date: 16 Jul 16 - 06:45 PM

part 13

Everyone from Wicklow Harbour to the Stream of the mountain came to the plain fiercely, strongly and valiantly.                      175

Everyone from Breilteamh to Lecan and from Lecan to Bearna came with one accord -- valiant warriors for fighting.

When the swift powerful people of the potatoes were together, their majority of numbers achieved victory over the men of the grain.

Then the hosts attacked each other roughly and sternly like the sea against the harbor or the rush of a great flood of [?] a mountain.

One would see a horse on the top of its rider, leaping and jumping until his bones would be broken -- a sorry part for my brother.

One would see two people with their hooks firmly stuck into each other; one would see a person with a flail knocking down five men with ease.                                                    180

One would see a spade and a shovel about the ear of a man of the grain; one would see a plough-staff scoundrelly crashing the Spaniards.

The people of the grain and the ploughmen ran like a ball down a slope, when the ball is being cleverly driven by a hurley.

Much bread and cheese and bags of bacon were left on the roads by the doers of great deeds.

Many a lump of brown george (i.e. a hard biscuit) was dissolving on the roads; many good pieces of meat were on the grass.

There was pursuing and defeat on the people of the peas and the porridge from mid-day on Sunday till the dawn of the morning.    185

Like flocks running from wolves, these multitudes fled in this rout to the lovely hill of Howth where there was a swift fight.

Richard Tipper from Clogliran comes on a tall-headed, copper-coloured, well-fed horse; he was warrior-like, valiant, brave, and he was gentle in pleasant times.

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Subject: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 14
From: keberoxu
Date: 16 Jul 16 - 07:06 PM

part 14

He runs through them like a rough flood, and it was not affection that was woven; he silenced the people of the potatoes, and also the people of the grain.

In Tipper's company, melodiously, came the wise harper from Grange, the lively, swift, stately Henry Kowe, the just and religious one.

They said in an audible voice: "What is this disaster that has come over the Gaels? Isn't it enough to have the English wounding you and no remedy for it.                                              190

"We read in Irish books -- and it was sufficient for us in that composition -- that it was the disunion of the people caused the severe destruction of your tribe.

"Make peace in future," said the strong steady man, "and keep the end object of your treachery for the one-time foreigners."

Then they made friendship, the people of the potato and those of the beans: the grain to be in peaceful partnership with the generous roast potatoes.

And here for you is the agreement that was made willingly and peacefully to give food, bed, and roof habitually to the poor.

The peace was established, and God was the guarantee for it, the grain to be well-beloved like the potato: that is the end of the battle of the gap.                                           195

[No, that is not the end of the poem. The "court jester of the Fianna" has to be granted the last word.]

Matthew Nolan said -- since he is their Conán, their mischief-maker -- "Confusion on them, drink to them, fa la la lara and learo!

"They broke the confounded husbandmen the English -- speaking talkative fools, the growling beggars.

"The half-blind, cowardly, poisonous ones: the criers, mutterers, gloomy ones: the lumpy half-baked insipid ones: the impetuous rough big-bellied ones.

"Thirst on them, stiffness and sickness on them, the cold false cheats; destruction on them, captivity and hunger on them, the rude self-willed beggars.

"Prattlers, gabblers, babblers, rompers, crouching deceivers, the steel of the hole-and-corner fellows is considered dregs by us; may rout be on the lumpy pirates.                                  200

"We got the victory over the churls, the black-mouthed clods went; destructive-rising, slow-rising and filth be on them, the frowning gabblers and handlers."

The Battle of the Gap was fought -- which will not be forgotten -- in the year of the Lord five and seven hundred and a thousand.

[from the Gaelic of Seán Ó Neachtain]

p. 42: "This burlesque poem is from an unpublished MSS. in the British Museum, Egerton 165. Microfilm copy in National Library [Dublin] Negative no. 231, Positive no. 405. The MSS. was in possession of the son of Seán Ó Neachtain in 1741.

"Translation from the Gaelic by Mrs. Nessa Doran."

poem title: Cáth Bearna Chroise Brighde /
            The Battle of the Gap of St. Bridget's Cross

anthology title: An Anthology of the Potato
editor: Robert McKay
publication: Dublin: Allen Figgis & Co., Ltd. for Irish Potato Marketing Company, Ltd. (©?) 1961
pages 24 - 42

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 1
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 17 Jul 16 - 03:49 AM

I you seriously think anyone is going to read all that, you are sadly mistaken my friend, it comes across like an obsession with you.

Dave H

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 1
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 17 Jul 16 - 04:53 PM

The preceding is only one of three parts of the thing, although it is the longest of the three parts.

Mrs. Nessa Doran's English translation is the only one that I know of.
Nicholas Jonathan Anselm Williams, writing as NJA Williams, also published a critical article about Cáth Bearna Chroise Brighde in the Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie (1981). Williams himself is a formidable scholar. Most of his mature career has been spent at UC Dublin; born and bred English, and a graduate of Oxford, he has devoted his life and career to diverse branches of Celtic studies. He is actually best reknowned for his work, not in Irish Gaelic, but in Cornish, which he began to study in his teens if I read right. I also read that Williams has published a Cornish New Testament and a Cornish translation of Tolkien's Hobbit.

Williams' itinerary took him from Oxford to Belfast to Liverpool to Dublin. En route he married a native of county Armagh, and their three children speak both the Irish Gaelic and English.

Regarding the subject of this thread, by following information on Professor (Ollamh, indeed) Williams, I learned something that is not stated in the Anthology of the Potato from Dublin. Seán Ó Neachtain, the author of Cáth Bearna Chroise Brighde, modeled his burlesque epic on an earlier Gaelic satire, "Pairlement Chloinne Tomáis," whose author is unknown.

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 1
From: keberoxu
Date: 18 Jul 16 - 06:50 PM

from pages 24 - 25

the poet's letter of introduction, from the Gaelic

To The Reader

O friendly reader and dear co-patriot, here for you is the dirge of the praise-worthy sage! The wise potato, which surpassed all other foods in beauty, shape, make, aspect, goodness and hospitality; and surpassed all praise that human tongue can give; and for which Dallan Forgall could not get suitable words to praise according to his obligation of consent; and therefore, for these very noble themes, my tongue, unlearned and unclever except if the wish is accepted for the deed [has the honour].
If this work reveals a cowardly attack do not publish it to the people, but conceal it and correct the error, and you will show yourselves to be loving, sympathetic, charitable to everyone and especially to me, humbly and lowly requesting our sympathy and our friendship;
but for censuring grumblers who cannot but reveal their teeth like lap-dogs at the heels of travellers I have no interest in them, because it is not my wish to make fun, cajolery or great display out of it, but as a little pastime for my co-patriots.


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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle,
From: keberoxu
Date: 18 Jul 16 - 06:59 PM


There is moreover a battle or battlefield and a stiff violent combat and a famous renowned turbulent brave triumphant defeat, and a daring severe unsufferable fight and a sharp wounding heroic cutting and a bloody fierce alert hateful valour, and a swift leaping full brave quick valour, that was between the swift strong people of the potatoes and the dull grasping people of the peas at the Gap of St. Bridget's Cross above Tallaght in the County of Dublin.

In this battle many fell on each side and especially on the side of the gleaners who were reduced to wounded, bloody-shaped corpses by the immeasurable strength, the wisdom, and the unfathomable, native brave cuteness [?] of the warriors of the fair swift courageous spirited big-hearted Spaniards.

And it is no wonder that victory and profit were got by the tribe of charity/almsgiving and of the blessings, i.e. the noble honourable tribe of the potatoes, and no greater wonder that crushing defeat and a breach were got but the people of the grain, i.e. the crafty, deceitful, uncharitable people who wither and grow thin and miserable when they see the happiness and wealth of their neighbours -- malice which has no equal or comparison. Moreover, unlike them in humanity and hospitality are the charitable tribe of the potatoes; for when the gleaner on the one hand will not give his excrement to the dog without payment, on the other hand the potato-man is urging charity and good friendship on the tramps and the poor of God; and my statement will be shown to be true if the two parties are impartially judged. Remember there is little sin and no truth in the writing, and therefore the author's excuse is acceptable; and by doing that you will bind him more firmly in your service.

Your faithful aged servant,

Seán Ó Neachtain.

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Subject: Recitation: Potato Battle
From: keberoxu
Date: 19 Jul 16 - 02:41 PM

pp. 25 - 26, The Anthology of the Potato

After his letter to the reader, poet Seán Ó Neachtain prefaces his account of the Cáth -- the Battle -- with an address in honor of the potato. It's supposed to be amusing, a eulogy. But it gives me goosebumps: this was written a good hundred years before the Great Hunger to which the potato blight contributed. It is as if the poet saw it coming.

It is a loss that the potato has died, a cause for grumbling, lamentation for the people of the mountain, not for them alone the disaster but for all Ireland.
Sad am I at its wake, it is my cause of sorrow and hardship, its death is worse to me than the death of father and mother.
My dear Spaniard was like Guaire as regards hospitality, his death will be death for the Gaels, woe to them all. Thousands used to come together to the feasting table of the Prince, and neither sage nor nobleman ever saw a frown on his forehead. The King had him at times -- game that was not trivial -- the Queen was kissing him as they were mouth to mouth without hiding.

He is dear to the Lady, he is dearly loved by the old woman, he is the cheerful toy of the baby when his mother is away from home.
He never told friends there was not welcome for them, and he says to the very poor man "come to us every time." He is the dearly loved of every maiden, he is the great delight of every old man, he is the desire of the youth who kiss him in bed. He is the dispenser to the poor, the man who relieves their groans, the man who reconciles the great company of poets, he is the one who accomplishes many of these things.

From the first of August in the Autumn until the feast of Patrick in the Spring, his table is not without maintenance nor his smooth countenance without laughter. The like of the potato is not to be found in Ireland; very seldom is his table seen without ever-lasting happiness and roast meat.

I beseech the High King of Heaven, that the potato may not part from us without leaving bright white heirs -- as long as a grain remains in ricks. From the onset of the brightness of the sun until it sets at the end of its journey, I never saw its like for goodness, love and hospitality. May He who took Jonah from the belly of the whale, release the noble one from the hard prison of the ice.

Do that, O Creator, and take the depression from Ireland; he who would not say Amen to that wish is a person without grace or goodness.

The death of the great Caesars was not a torment to them like the death of the dear young Spaniard; this is the death that has left everyone in sorrow until death -- their death, my death, and the death of the men of Ireland also.

[This is followed by:
"Here for you is the battle of the Gap...." see post 1.]

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Subject: Potato Hostilities
From: keberoxu
Date: 20 Jul 16 - 03:13 PM

I might have known, that in reviewing McKay's Anthology of the Potato, I would be made aware that said Potato Battle was part of an ongoing Potato War.

McKay includes a lyric which is a parody of Thomas Moore's "Nothing in Life can Sadden Us," with its chorus of "Dear creatures! we can't live without them." Of course, to be included in this particular anthology, it has to be potatoes that we "can't live without." The text also name-checks "Poor Corporal Cobbett" but McKay doesn't bother to tell you who Cobbett is.

William Cobbett wrote and published extensively on agriculture, as in his book "Cottage Economy" from the early 1800's. He liked a debate, did Mr. Cobbett, and the more I read of his writing, the more he reminds me of certain members of Mudcat, who shall remain nameless, whose quarrels in the non-music BS threads draw periodic attention from the moderators and even from Max. When Cobbett's publications and their condemnation of the things and people he belittled, met with an emotional response, his own counter-response was always an increase in contentious and inflammatory opinions and statements.

I had thought of reproducing Mr. Cobbett's sentences here. But I read too many of them and lost the stomach for it. Suffice to say that he really really hates Shakespeare, Milton (especially Paradise Lost), and potatoes -- and, yes, one of his more infamous tracts roundly condemns all three, one after the other.

If you must look him up, here is one place to start:

Cobbett's Weekly Political Register. Volume XXIX, no. 7. London, Saturday Nov. 18, 1815.
To the Editor of the Agricultural Magazine.
On the subject of Potatoes.
London: G. Houston, 1815

"It has become, of late years, the fashion to extol the virtues of potatoes, as it has been to admire the writings of Milton and Shakespear...."

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Subject: RE: Recitation: Potato Battle, part 1
From: keberoxu
Date: 20 Jul 16 - 04:02 PM

Confrontation-averse -- cowardly -- as I am, I would rather conclude on Cobbett, not by quoting the "Poor Corporal," but by quoting the editor in his preface of a posthumously published work of Cobbett's.

H. L. Stephens, editor. Quotes:
page iv. "....we can recognize in the demagogue whose violence, ignorance, and hopeless egotism made him useless for any but the most general political purposes, a leading master of the English language."

page v. " 'How many of the insolent and ignorant great and powerful have I pulled down and made little and despicable!' "

page vii. "....views based on a curious collection of inconsistent sentiments, supported by hastily acquired half knowledge of many matters, and protected from the effects of serious reflection by an assured belief in his own infallibility."

page ix. "....his political writings, where his strength frequently degenerates into violence, or explodes into thoughtless abuse."

page xiii. "It was thoroughly consistent with the whole of Cobbett's character that he should despise any knowledge he did not possess, and if possible should connect this feeling with either the Reformation or the Public Debt....Cobbett's political feelings are always pretty near the surface."

page xvii. "The late Mr. Bradlaugh, possessing something that Cobbett lacked, had sufficient greatness of mind to learn late in life that it is well to try to understand your antagonists' case as it appears to them....He, in fact, learned in the House of Commons those good manners which men more happily situated may learn in boyhood. Cobbett never learned them at all."

from Cobbett's English Grammar
London: Henry Frowde, 1906

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