Riocard Bairead, People from Co.Mayo

Riocard Bairead was a poet and satirist from Erris known in the district as Dick Buiread. He was born at Barrack, near Ely Bay in Belmullet sometime between 1735 and 1740. His families were descendants of the Norman Barretts.

He spent all his life in Belmullet and was married twice, first to Nancy Tollet, a daughter of Sean Tollett of Moyrane, a prosperous Protestant Landowner, then to Maire Ní Mhóráin. With her, he had two children, Mary and Riocard.

He also was a farmer and teacher in a small school in the area.

He composed many satirical ballads and songs in mixed macaronic language (in both Irish and English) and “hedge-schoolmaster” (in Hiberno-English) including “Eoghan Coir”, “Preab san I,” and “Tarraing na Móna”.

His poetry followed the style of Jonathan Swift.

He was a member of the Society of United Irishmen, and according to local folklore he took part in the 1798 Rebellion as a pike-man and was imprisoned in Castlebar Goal for his policies.

He probably died on 8th or 18th December 1819, and then his own grave was destroyed during a storm. His bones were nearly washed into the Atlantic Ocean. People of Belmullet re-interred his bones behind a repaired wall at Cross Abbey at Cross Point, near Binghamstown in Belmullet.

His gravestone reads:

“Why spend your leisure bereft of pleasure
Amassing treasures? Why scrape and save?
Why look so canny at every penny?
You’ll take no money into the grave.”

For the Centenary Celebrations of the 1798 Rebellion, Willliam Rooney, Irish nationalist and poet, wrote the song “Men of the West” on the air of Riocard’s ballad “Eoghan Chóir”.

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