GENERATIONS OF Irish school children were taught to recite Mise Raiftearaí an File, believing it to be by the Mayo/Galway poet Antoine Ó Raifteiri, which he wrote about himself.
However, it seems Raiftearaí did not write that poem. Not only that, but it was probably written on the US-Canadian border and first published in an Irish-language magazine in Brooklyn in 1882.
The poems that were composed by Ó Raifteiri could often be quite political, and railed against the Protestant landlord class. Yet it was a Church of Ireland clergyman’s son, Douglas Hyde (later first President of Ireland ), who did most to preserve his memory.
These fascinating glimpses into the life of one of Ireland’s great Irish language poets is the subject of a new documentary Mise Raiftearaí- An Fíodóir Focal, which will be broadcast on TG4 on New Year’s Eve (tomorrow ) at 7.45pm.
In this programme, singer-songwriter Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin, goes in search of the true story of Antoine Ó Raifteiri, who is buried near Craughwell in Co Galway.
Shot this year on location in Ireland and New York, Mise Raiftearaí an Fíodóir Focal, will features contributions from Nollaig Ó Muraile and Gearóid Denvir of NUI, Galway; actor and broadcaster Máirtín Jamsie Ó Flatharta; Mayo historian Betty Solan; poet and researcher Collette Nic Aodha; and sean-nós singers Treasa Ní Cheannabháin, Máirtín Tom Sheáinín, Naisirín Elsafty, Caitríona Ní Cheannabháin and Jimí Ó Ceannabháin.
Mise Raiftearaí- An Fíodóir Focal wil also feature reconstructions from the poet’s life with the award wining actor and playwright Aindrias de Staic as Raiftearaí. The documentary is directed by the IFTA award winner Seán Ó Cualáin, and produced by Léirithe Sónta.