Friday, April 12, 2013

Carn Cùl ri Èirinn - The Cairn with its Back to Ireland

Standing high atop a ridge on the southwest side of Iona is Carn Cùl ri Èirinn, the cairn with its back to Ireland. The wonders of nature; seabirds, waves, sparkling sands and whales; that someone experienced here long ago inspired the following.

          Delightful it would be on the breast of an island
               on a rocky clifftop,
          that I might often see
               the face of the ocean.

          I'd see her heaving waves
               on glittering surface,
          as they sang thus to their Father
               in eternal surging.

          I'd see her smooth sparkling sands
               it would be no cause for sorrow;
          I'd hear the call of wondrous seabirds,
               a cry of gladness.

          I'd hear the thunder of the breakers
               upon the rocks,
          I'd hear a clamour beside the graveyard,
               the sound of the ocean.

          I'd see her whales, the greatest
               of all wonders.
          I'd see her ebbing and flooding
               in their order;
          may my mystical name be
               'Cùl ri Èirinn'.

From 'Meallach Liom Bheith i n-Ucht Oilein, 'Delightful to be on the Breast of an Island'.
12th century (but attributed to St Columba) - see page 14 in Songbook of the Pillagers.

Carn Cùl ri Èirinn - The Cairn with its Back to Ireland

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