Do shaoileas nÁr Bhaoil dom

Faction fighting was a common social scourge in Ireland in the early 19th century. A symptom of a deeper malaise in society,  faction lines were drawn along class divides.

The two most famous factions of the time were the “Seanavest’s” and the “Carabhat’s” made up of large holding farmers and landless labourers respectively. Undoubtedly these factions provided an outlet for some of the anger in the disenfranchised Gaelic population and deepened divisions within society.

Kerry Poet, Tomás Rua Ó Súilleabháin (1785-1848), describes how he was set upon by a faction as he returned from a fair.

It prompted Tomás Rua to think on the factions and he came to the conclusion that although he was a small man he had a greater strength than those who had given him the beating.

He had a gift that they had not “roinn Dia liom bua thar an slua(God has given me a gift they have not) . Certainly the record he made in this song of his rough treatment outlasted the men who gave him the battering.