Mná na hÉireann  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"Mná na hÉireann" (Women of Ireland) is a poem written by Ulster poet Peadar Ó Doirnín (1704–1796), best-known as a song set to a melody composed by Seán Ó Riada (1931–1971), arranged by Paddy Moloney and performed by The Chieftains featured in the film Barry Lyndon (1975).

As a modern song, Mná na hÉireann is usually placed in the category of Irish rebel music; as an eighteenth-century poem it belongs to the genre (related to the aisling) which imagines Ireland as a generous, beautiful woman suffering the depredations of an English master on her land, her cattle, or her self, and which demands Irishmen to defend her, or ponders why they fail to. The poem also seems to favour Ulster above the other Irish provinces. Ó Doirnín was part of the distinctive Airgíalla tradition of poetry, associated with southern Ulster and north Leinster; in this poem he focuses on Ulster place-names, and he sees the province as being particularly assaulted (for instance, he says that being poor with his woman would be better than being rich with herds of cows and the shrill queen who assailed Tyrone, in Ulster, i.e. Medb who attacked Cooley, as the borderlands of Ulster, which would have lain in ancient Airgíalla). This may be because, besides being the poet's home, until the success of the Plantation of Ulster the province had been the most militantly Gaelic of the Irish provinces in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Mná na hÉireann" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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