Ceaití Ní Bheildiúin is a teacher, poet, filmmaker and visual artist based in the west of Ireland. She was born in Dublin as Cathi Weldon, but upon moving to the Dingle Peninsula in 2003, she immersed herself in the language and Gaeltacht culture of her new home and took the Irish language version of her name. It was in this phase of her life, too, that she began to write poetry. Her destination is noteworthy in itself, as this peninsula holds famously fertile soil for Irish literature — it is ground which has nourished and borne the work of Ní Bheildiúin’s literary foremothers, notably Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Máire Mhac an tSaoi.
Ní Bheildiúin’s own writing has brought many accolades in the years since this move. Among her honours are literature bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland (2010), Ealaín na Gaeltachta (2014), and prizes for her poetry from Foras na Gaeilge 2015, Duais Colmcille Strokestown Poetry Festival (second prize 2012, third prize 2007), and the Oireachtas 2007 (national honours for excellence in Irish language literature).
As an artist, Ní Bheildiúin has created multi-media installations combining poetry with video and sound. Her art has been widely exhibited both in Dublin and on the Dingle Peninsula, indicative, perhaps, of her openness to both the urban and the pastoral elements of her work. Her poems, like her art, grapple with concepts of transformation and time, and revolve around her signature motifs — those of city, of stone, mapping the paths that run through our lives. Among her signal qualities are an exceptional breadth of vision, clarity, and a rigorous intellect.
Various personae from the folklore of her adopted home feature in Ní Bheildiúin’s poetic landscapes. In her most recent book, Meirge an Laoich, we encounter the voices of Cailleach Chom an Lochaigh, Bóchna, and the pre-Celtic god Mogh Ruith, as well as characters from other cultures— in the poem 'Frog', (an ars poetica of sorts) she references the Egyptian queen Heqet. Ní Bheildiúin also reaches beyond the ventriloquism of personae to voice further elements. In her poem 'Taoide', she gives voice to a tide that lifts treasure from the ocean floor- shells, stones, bones, in order to arrange them on the beach –
ag bailiú chugam
seoda gloine, clocha is cnámha
ag cruthú taispeántais nua leo
ar mo chiumhais chúrach.
This poem may be read as a deliberation on the craft of the poet or the artist, dredging the depths of the subconscious in the generation of the new. In her own new work, Ceaití Ní Bheildiúin continues to be one of the most innovative and interesting voices in contemporary Irish language poetry.
Teorainn Bheo, Coiscéim, 2007
Púca Gan Dealramh, Coiscéim, 2010
Meirge an Laoich, Coiscéim, 2013
A poem in Poetry Ireland Review
More poems with English translations on USA online journal.