About this Chapbook

15th Century Letterpress Meets 20th Century Digital

CUMHDACH IS A POEM IN IRISH AND ENGLISH written by Máirtín Coilféir, an assistant professor at Concordia University, and designed and printed as a chapbook by Deborah Barnett, the College’s Printer. Wrapped in sheep’s vellum from Pergamena in Montgomery, New York, and produced in three letterpress inks and a blind impression with a laser-cut and etched cover, Cumhdach is available in a numbered edition of 52 copies signed by the author. The papers are made from cotton at La Papeterie St-Armand in Québec.


  • November 11, 2019

Created by

  • Deborah Barnett
  • Máirtín Coilféir

Photos by

  • Sheila Eaton

What is a Cumhdach?

Cumhdach = /’KOO-dachk/

  1. To build, construct, or compose;
  2. To protect, support, help, or defend;
  3. A cover, a case, or a shrine;
  4. To adorn or ornament something, or the ornament itself;
  5. To embellish or heighten language.

Adapted from: eDIL s.v. cumtach

Designing and Producing the Cumhach

Finishing Touches

St. Michael’s Book and Media students learn the art of saddle stitch bookbinding. Students collaborate with Kelly Library staff to sew Cumhdach signatures.

Selected verses from Cumhdach

By Máirtín Coilféir

  • faoi chasadh an chéid dhom
  • Le cúram a chrochainn
  • ar thairne sa mballa é
  • Le dúshlán na luchóg a thabhairt
  • Sula dtéinn an athuair síos
  • ar mo ghogaide ag breacadh
  • Mo chuidse den scrioptúr
  • le taobh na mbráithre
  • Is thíos dom mar sin ag adhradh
  • roimh mhála ar foluain
  • Ba é chloisinn dá shioscadh ná
  • tiacha m’fhearainn fhéin i gcéin –
  • at the century’s turn
  • I’d hang it just so
  • from a nail in the wall
  • (To spite all the mice)
  • Before I’d go hunkers again
  • And take up my work
  • On my copy of scripture
  • Alongside my brothers
  • And when I’d be
  • down in a crouch
  • All aprayer in front
  • of the hovering bag
  • What I’d hear in its rustle
  • were hides from my home –


Máirtín Coilféir is from Navan, County Meath, Ireland, and was a Celtic Studies professor at the University of St. Michael’s College from 2016 until 2020. He is an assistant professor at the School of Irish Studies, Concordia University.

  • Máirtín Coilféir reads both the Irish and English versions of the Cumhdach poem at the imprint launch


Deborah Barnett is a typographic designer and letterpress printer in Toronto, the Publisher and Creative Director of Someone Editions, and a candidate for her Masters of Fine Art in Interdisciplinary Studies.

  • Deborah Barnett prints the Cumhdach letterpress covers at the Kelly Print Studio.

Purchase a Copy

Dán in Dhá Theanga • A Poem in Two Languages

Buy a copy of this chapbook

This limited edition of 52 copies is signed by the author. Copies are hand-sewn, wrapped in sheep’s vellum, and letterpress printed from plates on 100% cotton paper.


Plus shipping. Tax is included.