Place of migration
Stayed in Ireland

Antoine Ó Raifteiri (Anthony Raftery) was born in Kiltimagh County Mayo on the 30th of March 1779. 

His early years were marked by tragedy. Anthony was one of nine children born to his parents but by 1788 he would be their only surviving child. All nine children contracted smallpox with Anthony being the only one to beat the disease. Although he lived, Anthony was not left unmarked by the sickness. He lost his sight. This would have huge ramifications on his life to come. Losing his sight meant that many avenues were closed to him in terms of work. However, Anthony was gifted with a talent for music and poetry which meant that he not only got by, but would go on to become one of Ireland's best known Irish language poets. 

In his early career, Anthony's patron was his father's landlord Frank Taafe, but after they had a falling out he became a travelling poet. He moved along the roads of County Galway playing his fiddle and reciting his poems as he went. He is believed to be one of the last travelling bards. 

Interestingly, none of Anthony Raftery's poems were written down in his lifetime. Instead they were passed on as spoken word until some literary figures including Lady Gregory took it upon themselves to commit his work to paper. 

Anthony Raftery died on Christmas Eve 1835. He is buried in Craughwell County Galway where his headstone was erected by Lady Gregory and Douglas Hyde. 

An annual Féile Raifteiri in Loughrea County Galway celebrates the life and work of this great Irish poet. His most famous poem, Mise Raifteiri is transcribed below;

Mise Raifteirí, an file,                                 I am Raftery, the poet,
lán dóchais is grá                                       full of hope and love
le súile gan solas,                                      With eyes without light,
ciúineas gan crá                                        silence without torment.

Dul siar ar m'aistear,                                 Going back on my journey,
le solas mo chroí                                      with the light of my heart 
Fann agus tuirseach,                                Weak and tired,
go deireadh mo shlí                                  until the end of my way.          

Feach anois mé                                        Look at me now
mo dhroim le balla,                                   my back to the wall,       
Ag seinm ceoil                                          playing music
do phocaí folamh.                                     to empty pockets.                      

Additional Information
Date of Birth 30th Mar 1779
Date of Death 24th Dec 1835


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  • Hello, 

    I have seen a genealogy claiming Antoine Ó Raifteiri (Anthony Raftery) as an ancestor, however, I have not found any information regarding a marriage or children. So, I guess my question would be did he have children?

    Thank you,


    Barbara K

    Friday 24th September 2021 03:20PM

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