Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna came from West Cavan – probably from Barran, near Blacklion.
He studied on the continent for the priesthood – but gave up his studies when he met a young woman called Kathleen Tyrell – ‘Ceataí na gCiabh’. When she rejected him, he spent the rest of his life wandering from fair to market across south Ulster.
He had the reputation of being a great drinker and a great womaniser. The clergy did not like him. He was a bad influence!
He composed many poems or songs. Most of them were love songs. They are still sung in Gaeltacht areas – especially Tory Island.
His best known poem (song) is ‘An Bonnán Buí’ – (The Yellow Bittern). It laments the death of a bird that could not get a drink because Lough Mac Nean was frozen over. Cathal says that he himself has no intention of dying for want of a drink!!
Cathal is said to be buried in Donaghmoyne old graveyard in Co. Monaghan.
Since 1998 a festival commemorating Cathal Buí has been held in Blacklion, Co Cavan. As well as promoting the arts this festival celebrates all aspects of our local heritage – from prehistoric times right up to the present day. The festival takes place annually in late June/early July.