From Dallan Forgaill (died 598AD) to Nick Laird (born 1975), Patrick Crotty has gathered in an extraordinary harvest from one-and-a-half millennia of Irish verse. In comparison with smaller anthologies, poems originally written in the Irish and English languages stand on an equal footing.
The first-rate translations often come from the pens of fine poets. Even more distinctive, Crotty honours the anonymous bard – the moonlighting monk; the peasant reciter; the centuries of pub singer-musicians – with a regular update of Songs and Ballads, from the age of the great monasteries to that of Christy Moore. This companionable dialogue between learned and popular traditions enriches his terrific achievement.