Monday, October 11, 2010

An Gánconágh. The Love Talker.


In Connacht. The word is pronounced gánconâgh.

The name gánconágh comes from the Gaelic word gean-canagh which means love talker.

Watch out for him because it definitely means bad luck is on the way if you meet him. He is a real loner, a solitary fairy who is the embodiment of love and idleness. He always has a dudeen (pipe) in his mouth. Although you will see him with a clay pipe in his mouth he will never have it lit as fairies hate and despise smoke so an unlit pipe in a lazy man's mouth is always a clue.

He has no shadow, the birds stop singing and a mist unfurls about him when he is around. He haunts lonely valleys speaking his love to milkmaids and shepherdesses and when he has had his wicked way with them he abandons them (how many times have we heard that story?). They then pine away and even die of a broken heart.

This seducing of young maidens seems to be his favourite pastime, of course they blame his dark twinkling Irish eyes, his enchanting voice and his pure charm. and whoever was ruined by ill-judged love was said to have been with the gánconágh. Men who have lost all their money by buying baubles for their ladies were said to have met the gánconágh. I think we’ve heard all that before as well.

He is lazy and you will often find him with a purse in one pocket but his hands in both, hanging around with the bone idle lads in the village

Portrayed in Ethna Carbery 's poem ‘The Love-Talker’, Four Winds of Erin (Dublin, 1902).
W. B. Yeats records ganconers who play at hurling, Irish Fairy and Folk Tales. (London, 1893).

The Love Talker.

I met the Love-Talker one eve in the glen,
He was handsomer than any of our handsome young men,
His eyes were blacker than the sloe, his voice sweeter far
Than the crooning of old Kevin's pipes beyond in Coolnagar.
I was bound for the milking with a heart fair and free–
My grief! my grief! that bitter hour drained the life from me;
I thought him human lover, though his lips on mine were cold,
And the breath of death blew keen on me within his hold.

I know not what way he came, no shadow fell behind,
But all the sighing rushes swayed beneath a fairy wind
The thrush ceased its singing, a mist crept about,
We two clung together–with the world shut out.

Ethna Carbury, The Love Talker

Another little poem that tells of the gánconágh.

Beware the tunes that touch your heart.
The gánconágh will play the soul
Beware sweet lass don't crave his art
He'll pierce your heart and leave a hole.


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