Antoine O Raifteiri (Anthony Raftery)

Poet

Plaque in Kiltimagh
Author's Personal Photo
Memorial by Sally Mc Kenna in Kiltimagh
Author's Personal Photo
Memorial in Kiltimagh
Author's Personal Photo
Museum at Kiltimagh Sculpture Park
Author's Personal Photo

Poet

A Poet, Singer, Musician, O’ Raifiteri’s Legacy has been ‘Cill Aodain.’  He has been immortalized with Sculptures also an annual Festival in his Honour.

Antoine O’ Raifteri or Anthony Raftery was born in Killedan, Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo during 1779.  His father was a Weaver from Co. Sligo, his mother a Brennan from Kiltimagh.  He was the only surviving child from nine children in the family that contacted smallpox between the years (1785– 88) with the result that Anthony lost his sight. He studied at the Hedge schools.  He was knowledgeable in Greek & Latin & the English Language. [i]

Raifteri was a talented young person,. In sports he excelled at Wrestling also was the Anchor – Man at the local Tug O Wars.  His Patron was Frank Taffe (his father’s Landlord) that encouraged him to perform his Poetry. He was employed by Taffe as a Household Messenger & delivered mostly on horseback.  At the time of his mother’s death in his late teens he was an Employee of Taffe..[ii]

Career

However due to a falling out with Frank Taffe: Raifteri spent his life as an Itinerant Musician also a  Poet along the roads & towns of Co. Galway.  He performed in some of the large houses.  He played the Fiddle, sang songs & recited poetry in the Irish tradition.  Raifteri was a poet of the people: he was on the side of those who agitated for ‘fair rents’ with ‘security of tenure.’  His work dealt with the events of that time as he reflected on the people’s own views. [iii]

Notebook

His legacy has been his ‘Eanach Dhuin’ plus ‘Cill Aodain.’  Lady Gregory reported she was told he carried a book with him (a Pantheon) he would invite people to read to him then he memorized the contents.  None of his poems were written during his lifetime but were transcribed by Douglas Hyde Raifteri’s Poetry from RIA Manuscripts as ‘Ambhráin agus Danta an Reachtbhragh’ in 1903. [iv]

Demise

Antoine O ‘Raifteri’s demise occurred  on Christmas Eve 1835 at the house of Darby Cloonan.  He is interred in Reilig na bhFile at Croughwell, Co. Galway.  His Gravestone was erected by Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn & Douglas Hyde. [v]

O’Raftieri’s demise occurred on  24th  December 1835 at the house of Diarmuid Cloonan of Killeeneen, Craughwell, Co. Galway.  He is buried in the nearby Cemetery of the Poets. [vi]

Tributes

There is a Granite Memorial to the Poet erected in 1985 on the town square of Kiltimagh produced by Artist Sally Mc Kenna.  A Poem by poet Terry Mc Donagh may be viewed nearby.  A Sculpture of the Poet is in the Village Green of Craughwell.  During 2011 a Documentary on his life was produced by Sonta Teo for TG4.  Loughrea, Co. Galway hosts an annual festival on last weekend of March.  It features a contemporary Irish Poet who promotes the native arts of Ireland.  The Festival called ‘Feile Raifteri’ finishes with a visit to Raifteri’s grave.  During 1983 Scoil Raftery was founded in Castlebar, Co. Mayo.  Raftery Close in the Ballymagroarty Estate is also named in his honour.  A Statue of him stands in the Village Green in Craughwell, opposite Cawley’s pub. [vii]

According to this site: The Poet Antoine O ‘Raifteri from Kiltimagh has been credited with writing a Song / Poem entitled ‘A Bhrán Cluanaigh’

‘ Is i gCill Cluanaigh do thainig an t – eag

Nuaircalleach máistir Bodcin

Tá na Protastúin i n – áit na nGaedle

Agus a t – oidhre a dbhfad ó bhaile.’ :[viii]

 Famous Poem

Mise Raiftearaí an file,

Lán dóchas ‘s grá,

Le súile gan solas,

Le ciúnas gan crá…

Féach anois mé

Is mo chúl le balla

Ag seimn ceoil

Do phócaí folamh. [ix]

Footnotes

O ‘Raifteri’s famous poems, ‘Eanach Dhuin’ plus ‘Cill Aodain’ are still included on schools curricula.  English translations of his Poetry were published by James Stephens in his volume ‘Reincarnations.’ This site features several: [x]

Rafterai first lines of his ‘Mise Rafterai’ were inscribed on Irish Banknotes. [xi]

Raifteri is mentioned by Liam Devlin: an Irish Freedom Fighter in the 1975 novel ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ by Jack Higgins. [xii]

Yeats mentioned Raifteri in ‘Dust hath Close Helen’s Eyes’ Celtic Twilight during 1902. [xiii]

Brian Oswald Donn wrote a Biographical novel called ‘Blind Raftery and his wife Hilaria’ during 1924.   [xiv]

In ‘The Connaught Telegraph’ 31st March 2020 edition on page 21 Johnny Mee in his column ‘Auld Stock’ mentioned Antoine Ó Raifiteirí as a person ‘who overcame his blindness, never looked for pity, got on with his life.’ The lines ‘Now, with the coming of spring, the days will be lengthening, and after St. Bridget’s Day, I shall raise my sail’ is a tribute to his works.

Liamy Mc Nally’s 2021 publication ‘Happy Birthday Mr Bob’  mentioned Poet Antoine O ‘Raifteri

Bibliography

[i]  www.eircom.net.Antoine Raftery

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] http://homepage.tinet.ie/~foregan/adc/raftery.html

[iv] Ibid

[v] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raftery

[vi]  www.eircom.net.Antoine Raftery

[vii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Eagle_Has_Landed_(film)

[viii] http://www.ricorso.net/rx/az-data/authors/r/Raftery_A/life.htm

[ix] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_%C3%93_Raifteiri

[x] Ibid.

[xi] http://www.ricorso.net/rx/az-data/authors/r/Raftery_A/life.htm

[xii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Eagle_Has_Landed_(film)

[xiii] http://www.ricorso.net/rx/az-data/authors/r/Raftery_A/life.htm

[xiv] https://www.obheal.ie/blog/festival-videos-and-reviews/in-sight-of-raftery-videos/

 

Comments about this page

  • Thank you Paula for information.

    By Noelene Beckett Crowe. (10/03/2020)
  • He is buried in the Killeeneen graveyard near Craughwell

    By PAULA KEALY (04/03/2020)

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