Gelli Fach

Gelli Fach

I'm a cell, I'm fragmented, I change my form;
I'm a repository of song, I'm a dynamic state.
I love a wooded slope and a snug shelter,
and a creative poet who doesn't buy his advancement.

Wyf kell, wyf dellt, wyf datweirllet;
wyf llogell kerd, wyf lle ynnyet.
Karaf-y gorwyd a goreil clyt,
a bard a bryt ny pryn y ret.

From: Legendary Poems from the Book of Taliesin, edited and translated by Marged Haycock

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Libation to the daoní maith, the fairies or ‘good people’, from North Mayo, Ireland

                                                  5th Cent BCE. Apollo with Lyre and Phiale Pouring Libation

In the 1960s, J. N. Hamilton recorded some words said when offering the first glass of the singlings (the initial collections of the distillation process that required further processing) to the daoní maith, the fairies, when making poteen. (ZCP xxxi 1970, 164)

His informant told him “And this is what we used to say when we were throwing out the first glass”:

Maith agus sláinte go ndéanaidh sé daoibh,
Agus toradh agus tairbh’ go gcuiridh sé ‘ugainn,
Agus go sábhálaidh sibh aig ár namhaid muid.

May it bring you health and goodness,
And may it bring us good result and profit,
And may you save us from our enemy.

This is also quoted by Calvert Watkins in: Is Tre Fír Flathemon: Marginalia to Audacht Morainn, Ériu 30, pp 181-198). Later on Watkins notes a passage from Audacht Morainn (a tract giving advice to princes):

Ní-n-aurdallat anai
na moíni mára
na lessa fro lobru lén

‘Let not riches nor great gifts nor profits
blind him to the weak in their suffering.’

He tells us that moíni, are “specifically ‘gifts entailing the obligation to a counter-gift (commoín)’ in the ancient system of exchange and reciprocity.”  It's possible that the first glass of the singlings was such a gift, obliging the daoní maith to give their protection.


  1. Hi Hilaire! It's been such a long time and I wanted to say hello again.

    Nellie x

  2. Hey! Lovely to hear from you. Do you have a blog at the moment? I hope all is well with you and yours.