Eochaidh Ó hEódhasa

(c. 1560—1612) Gaelic poet

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áes dána

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(?1560–1612), poet; head of the Ó hEódhasa poetic family and ollam [see áes dána] to three successive Maguire chieftains of Fermanagh: Cú Chonnacht (d. 1589), Hugh (d. 1600), and Hugh's halfbrother, Cú Chonnacht. The family home was at Ballyhose on Castlehume Lough, Lower Lough Erne, where his principal teacher was probably his father, Maoileachlainn Óg. Maguire gave Ó hEódhasa lands at Currin, near Ballinamallard, but the poem ‘T'aire riot a rí ó nUidhir’ complains that the holding is not commensurate with his status as ollam; and that he is too far from Hugh himself whose affection he both craves and demands. Another poem, ‘Mór an t-ainm ollamh flatha’, rehearses the rights due to a chief-poet in similar terms. In 1600 Maguire joined Hugh O'Neill in Munster, where he was fighting the English and awaiting Spanish reinforcements. Ó hEódhasa stayed in Fermanagh, and a personal poem, ‘Fuar leam an adhaighse d'Aodh’, expresses his fear for his patron's safety, and his concern that Hugh is exposed to the bitter cold of a winter's night while on campaign. This poem is the basis of a passionate adaptation by James Clarence Mangan. Ó hEódhasa's poems to Maguire allow an insight into the very close relationship between poet and patron. Hierarchical and conventional, they embrace a personal dimension as well, animating the traditional expressions of devotion and loyalty. Hugh's halfbrother Cú Chonnacht succeeded him in the chieftainship. Ó hEódhasa wrote the inaugural ode ‘Fada léighthear Eamhain a n-aontomha’, and when Cú Chonnacht went south in 1601 to join the Spaniards who had landed at Kinsale his ollam accompanied him. However, Ó hEódhasa was wounded in a skirmish and returned to Fermanagh, where he wrote ‘Fada óm intinn a hamharc’ for Cú Chonnacht. Of more than fifty surviving poems, about half are to the Maguires. He also dedicated poems to Red Hugh O'Donnell, Toirdhealbhach Luineach Ó Néill, and the O'Byrnes of Wicklow, to the widow of one of whom he is said to have proposed marriage. ‘Mór theasda dh'obair Óivid’ celebrates the accession of James I in 1603. A poem addressed to Hugh O'Neill, ‘Fríoth an uainse ar inis Fáil’, written before the Flight of the Earls, urges him to resume the war against the English. See, ‘The Chief's Poet’, Proceedings of the RIA, 83/C (1983).

From The Concise Oxford Companion to Irish Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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