Cormac Ó Comáin

Bard / Seanachaí

Turlough O Carolan Memorial in Dublin,_Ireland.jpg
Illustration of Finn by Stephen Reid

This celebrated Bard and Storyteller entertained the gentry as he travelled around the country with his songs and folktales.

Cormac Ó Comáin known also as Cormac Dall was born during May 1703 in Woodstock, near Ballinadangan, Co. Mayo. Unfortunately he was blinded by a bout of smallpox while he was just a year old.  As he had displayed an early fondness for music a neighbour who became a great patron of his, procured a professor to teach him the harp.  When this patron died he abandoned the instrument in favour of his natural singing voice.   [i]

Performances / Compositions

He memorized songs from his own and neighbours firesides prior to becoming a celebrated Fir – Gealaighle.  He was led by a grandson or young person as he toured the country. He was welcomed at weddings, special events or funerals as he related the old Irish legends. He entertained the gentry by recounting genealogies, poems plus songs.  He was proficient in O’Carolan’s melodies plus Ossian poems. He composed a few musical pieces himself ie “Lament for John Burke of Carrentyre” but unfortunately his works have not survived. [ii]

Personal life

He was married twice had children but was widowed by 1796 when he lived with one of his married daughters. It has been recorded that he died aged 110.  [iii]


It has been said of Ó Comáin by Walker that “He was endowed with a sweet voice and good ear, his narrations were generally graced with the choice of melody” plus “The monotony of his modulation was varied by cadences introduced with taste at the close of each stanza.”  Also “But it was in Poetry Cormac delighted to exercise his genius.   As his Muse was generally awakened by the call of gratitude, his poetical productions are mostly panegrical or elegiac; they extol the living, or lament the dead. Sometimes he indulged in satire, but not often, though endued with a rich vein of that dangerous gift.”   [iv]

He is mentioned in Joseph Cooper Walker’s “Historical Memories of the Irish Bards; intersected with anecdotes of etc occasional observances on the Music of Ireland.”  This was first published in 1796 then as a two volume edition during 1818. [v]

Francis Joseph Bigger (Editor 1894 – 1914) during May 1907 mentioned Cormac Dall Ó Comáin in the “Ulster Journal of Archaeology.”

Illustration of Finn by Stephen Reid from “High Deeds of Finn and other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland.”   [vi]


[i] www.wikipedia – Cormac O Comain

[ii] – Cormac O Comain

[iii] – Cormac O Comain

[iv] -Cormac O Comain

[v] – Cormac O’Comain



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