Bereavement Support Line 1800 80 70 77

Voices on the Bridge (Mayo)

by Latwest Association/Noel Lyons
Mayo

The Latest Association is a Mayo-based voluntary group supporting Eastern European immigrants in the community. They wish to commemorate Gunars Meijers, a Latvian Wesinger songwriter, whose sudden loss was felt by many of their diaspora. Their community has often endured loss of loved ones in silence due to distance from home. With ‘A Fond Goodbye’ they wish to communicate to them in poetry and song their understanding and support.

The project will publish a set of poetry and song lyrics in three languages – English, Latvian and Gaeilge – including established folk songs and original works. This will include the translations of Irish poets such as Pádraig Pearse, Antaine Rafteirí and Seán Clarárach Mac Domhnaill and famous Latvian poets Guntars Racs, Janis Peters and Ziedonis Purvs. It hopes to build bridges providing links of understanding, to commemorate loss of home and connect the understanding of present immigrants with Ireland’s own history of emigration. The publication will be provided as a resource for schools to teach the three languages.

Through previous arts community projects, Latwest have found that the young Latvian diaspora were thrilled to have displays and voices of home here in Ireland. These projects lifted their sense of identity and self esteem and helped them cope with sudden deaths and loss in their families and the community. They also provided a sense of pride in their history and at the same time a sense of inclusion and belonging in their new home here. One of the works describes how “the hearts of homeland feed the lonely who hunger for the warm light of the memory” – thus describing the coping with loss, especially during covid where many were trapped and isolated.

Below is an original poem written by Noel Lyons, translated into Irish.

Bláth 

Labhair mé leat sa gháirdín 

Nuair d’ardaigh tú sa bhláth 

An cumhacht  ag pleascadh ionam 

Mar a bhí mar a bheidh mar atá 

Bhí tú i gconaí ann im gháirdín 

Ag lasadh coinneal im’ chroí 

Ag inspreagadh mo spiorad folamh 

Ó fhág tú sa taoide istigh 

Do chonaic mé thú nuair do tháinig 

Tocht do ghlór im’ chluas 

Do straois i ndúiseacht na mbláthanna 

‘Is mo spiorad ag eitilt suas. 

Flower 

I spoke with you in the garden 

When you rose within the flower 

As was as is as will be again 

I felt your defining power 

You are always there in my garden 

Lighting the candle inside 

Inspiring my empty spirit 

Since you left on the inner tide 

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