The Streams of Bunclody

An emigration song written by an Irishman in America it is a nostalgic lament for his village Bunclody, on the Slaney River in Wexford County. The period is that of mid-late nineteenth century, although the date of its first publication is 1903 (in “Music of Ireland” by Neill). From America the song has rebounded in Ireland.
Also titled “The Maid of Bunclody” this song begins with the verse “Oh were I at the moss house“, the melody is quite similar “Cuckoo is a pretty bird ” which also includes a stanza: the verses are a classic of the genre , the nostalgia for a girl from which the protagonist had to leave because of economic hardship, the nostalgia for the village where he spent his youth and left all his relatives.

[Una emigration song scritta da un irlandese in America e nostalgico della sua Bunclody, sul fiume Slaney nella contea di Wexford. Il periodo è quello di metà-fine Ottocento, anche se la data della sua prima pubblicazione è il 1903 (in “Music of Ireland” di Neill). Dall’America la canzone è rimbalzata in Irlanda.
Anche intitolata “The Maid of Bunclody“, inizia con il verso “Oh were I at the moss house”, la melodia è abbastanza simile a “Cuckoo is a pretty bird” di cui riprende anche una strofa: i versi sono un classico del genere, la nostalgia per la ragazza da cui il protagonista si è dovuto allontanare a causa della ristrettezze economiche, la nostalgia per il paesello dove ha trascorso la sua gioventù e ha lasciato tutti i suoi parenti.]

In spite of this song’s popularity, there is remarkably little information on it; the Roud index gives only one example – the version recorded from Mrs Nellie Walsh of Wexford in 1948. Colm O Lochlainn gives a version of it in his ‘Irish Street Ballads entitled ‘The Maid of Bunclody and the Lad She Loves so Dear’ which he says he learned from his father, who came from Kilkenny. It seems to have first appeared in print in a Broadside version published in 1846. There is a local tradition that ‘The Streams of Bunclody’ was written in America by an immigrant from County Wicklow and sent back to Ireland

Jim Carroll

Nonostante la popolarità della canzone abbiamo poche informazioni su di essa; l’indice Roud cita un solo esempio – la versione registrata da Nellie Walsh di Wexford nel 1948. Colm O Lochlainn riporta una versione in ‘Irish Street Ballads” dal titolo ‘The Maid of Bunclody and the Lad She Loves so Dear’ che ci dice aver appreso dal padre, il quale proveniva da Kilkenny. Pare sia stata stampata la prima volta in un Broadside del 1846.”
(Jim Carroll)

A local historian Fr. Séamus de Vál is convinced that the current version of the melody derives from the transcription in the book “Irish Street Ballads” published in 1939 by Colm Ó Lochlainn of Kilkenny, a version that became popular after the performance of the group ” Emmet Spiceland “when they sang it at Croke Park for the 1968 hurling final.
For the local people melody see in the session page

Uno studioso di storia locale Fr. Séamus de Vál è convinto che la versione attuale della melodia derivi proprio dalla trascrizione nel libro “Irish Street Ballads” pubblicato nel 1939 da Colm Ó Lochlainn di Kilkenny, una versione diventata popolare dopo l’esibizione del gruppo “Emmet Spiceland” quando la cantarono a Croke Park per la finale di hurling del 1968.
Per la melodia originaria della popolazione locale vedi  https://thesession.org/tunes/12770

Luke Kelly

Sam Lee – The Moss House – live on The Ayala Show

Sean Doyle in The Light and the Half-Light 2004

Studio Group in Wold Music Ireland Vol. 1 2006

Deirdre Starr in “Between the Half Light” 2016

Oh were I at the moss house (1), where the birds do increase,
At the foot of Mount Leinster or some silent place,
By the streams of Bunclody where all pleasures do meet,
And all I would ask is one kiss from you, sweet.

Oh the streams of Bunclody they flow down so free,
By the streams of Bunclody I'm longing to be,
A-drinking strong liquor in the height of my cheer,
Here's a health to Bunclody and the lass I love dear.

The cuckoo (2) is a pretty good bird, it sings as it flies,
It brings us good tidings, and tells us no lies,
It sucks the young birds' eggs to make its voice clear
And the more it cries cuckoo the summer draws near (3).

If I was a clerk and could write a good hand,
I would write to my true-love that she might understand,
For I am a young fellow who is wounded in love
Once I lived in Bunclody, but now must remove.

If I was a lark and had wings I could fly
I would go to yon arbour where my love she does lie,
I'd proceed to yon arbour where my true love does lie,
And on her fond bosom contented I would die.

'Tis why my love slights me, as you may understand,
That she has a freehold and I have no land,
She has great store of riches, and a large sum of gold,
And everything fitting a house to uphold.

So fare you well father and my mother, adieu
My sister and brother farewell unto you,
I am bound for America my fortune to try,
When I think on Bunclody, I'm ready to die.

NOTES
1) As early as 1700, moss was used as an insulator and sealant in country houses.
Sometimes the cottage was built on a layer of moss or near by shrub covered with moss

or with moss on the roof
2) the cuckoo (male) no longer sings once the season of love is over (end of May);

the cuckoo is like a seer for his alleged longevity. see
3) floating verses from the song of the cuckoo 
The cuckoo is a fine bird he sings as he flies,
He brings us good tidings and tells us no lies.
He sucks the sweet flowers to make his voice clear,
And the more he cries cuckoo, the summer is nigh 

Traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
Oh vorrei essere nella casetta con il muschio (1),
dove gli uccelli prosperano,
ai piedi del Monte Leinster o in un altro luogo solitario,
presso i torrenti di Bunclody dove si riuniscono tutti i piaceri,
e tutto ciò che chiederei è un tuo bacio, mia cara.

Oh i torrenti di Bunclody scorrono liberi,
vorrei essere presso i torrenti di Bunclody,
a bere liquore forte all'apice della gioia,
alla salute di Bunclody e della ragazza che amo.

Il cuculo (2) è un bel uccellino, canta in volo,
ci porta buone notizie, e non dice bugie,
succhia le uova degli uccellini per schiarire la voce (3)
e più egli grida, più l'estate si avvicina.

Se fossi uno studioso e sapessi scrivere bene
scriverei al mio amore affinchè capisca,
che io sono un giovanotto ferito dall'amore
che un tempo viveva a Bunclody, ma che ora deve partire.

Se fossi un allodola con le ali volerei
e vorrei andare in quel pergolato dove giace il mio amore,
mi dirigerei verso quel pergolato dove giace il mio amore,
e sul suo amato seno potrei morire contento.

Ecco perchè il mio amore mi ignora, come si può ben capire,
perchè lei è benestante e io non ho terra,
lei ha tante proprietà e una grande somma in oro
e tutto quanto necessario per mantenere una casa.

Così addio padre caro e madre, addio
sorella e fratello addio anche a voi
sono in partenza per l'America a cercare la fortuna
quando penso a Bunclody, sono pronto a morire.

NOTE
1) Già dal 1700 il muschio veniva utilizzato come isolante e sigillante 

nelle case di campagna o nei capanni dei taglialegna/cacciatori.
Talvolta si costruiva sopra uno strato di muschio o si addossava le abitazioni ad arbusti
ricoperti da muschio e, bagnando la costruzione, si velocizzava il suo processo di crescita.
2) il canto del cuculo è foriero di Primavera, anche perchè una volta terminata la stagione

dell’amore (fine maggio), il cuculo (maschio) non canta più.
La sua presunta longevità (nei proverbi si dice “”Vecchio come il cucco”) lo ha trasformato
in veggente.  vedi
3) versi fluttuanti dalla canzone del cuculo
The cuckoo is a fine bird he sings as he flies,
He brings us good tidings and tells us no lies.
He sucks the sweet flowers to make his voice clear,
And the more he cries cuckoo, the summer is nigh

Pretty girl milking her cow, a irish pastoral love song

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Cailín Deas Cruíte na mBó” is a song in Irish Gaelic of the eighteenth century with an English version titled “Pretty girl milking her cow”, a version erroneously attributed to the Irish poet Thomas Moore who actually used the same Irish melody for another song entitled “The valley before smiling” (“The Song of O’Ruark, Prince of Breffni”)
The “Cailin Deas” melody is found in “Ancient Irish Music” by Edward Bunting (1796). The actress singer Judy Garland (from the Irish origins) has made the song very popular also in America, proposing it in various arrangements since 1940. (the Gaelic version in the first part)

THE SYMBOLS OF THE GODDESS

559A maiden milking a cow is a figure found carved on the walls of many medieval churches, and is a very old presence in the land of Ireland, or more generally along the coasts of Europe: already in the megalithism there are names like The Cow and Calf attributed to particular rocks. In Ireland Boinn-Boann, the “White Cow” is the goddess who represents prosperity. The Cow or Bull ridden by Goddesses or by the Moon itself is the symbol of the power of Mother Earth, the force enclosed in the secret of Nature. Thus the cult of the ancient goddess is always transformed according to the new conceptions .. to remain always unchanged! (see more)
The White Cow of Crichie,in the Buchan, has a name “frequently given to great stones, presumably, as this one, of white quartz”.vi The Cow and Calf Rocks loom near a dense cluster of carved rocks on Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire. The Buwch a’r Llo – ‘Cow and Calf’ – are two standing stones by the road near Melindwr, Ceredigion, Wales. Such names may be the last trace of narratives associated with these configurations,vii evoking the belief that ‘the presence of her calf was essential when a cow was being milked and that a cow deprived of her calf would retain her milk’.viiiL’ Épine Blanche (‘White Thorn’), the heroine of a Breton folktale, used a holly stick to strike a rock on the sea-shore, from which a cow emerged, to provide copious amounts of milk for the girl and her mother.ix One story, from Ireland, relates how a family on Dursey Island found a black bull and cow near the beach. The cow furnished sufficient butter and milk for all domestic wants, and soon a calf was added to the number. However, a wicked servant girl, milking the parent cow, struck the beast and cursed her. The animal turned to the other two and lowed to them, sorrowfully, and the three moved off to the sea. They plunged in, and forthwith the three rocks, since known as the Bull, Cow and Calf, arose. Milking legends’ surround megalithic structures such as Mitchell’s Fold stone circle in Staffordshire, where a witch milked a magical cow through a sieve, the cow thence ceasing to give her bounty of milk.xi During a famine, a benevolent white sea-cow provided milk at the Callanish stone circle on the Isle of Lewis, until a witch milked her through a sieve.xii The Glas Gowlawn (the Grey Cow), presented itself every day before each house in Ireland, giving a day’s supply of milk. So she continued until an avaricious person laid in a quantity for traffic, whereupon she left Ireland, going into the sea off the Hill of Howth.xiiiY Fuwch Frech, ‘The Freckled Cow’, roamed the Mynydd Hiraethog near Ruthin. Her pasture was near a farm called Cefn Bannog (‘Horned Ridge’); she drank at the spring called Ffynnon y Fuwch Frech.xiv A stone circle, Preseb y Fuwch Frech (‘The Freckled Cow’s Crib’) was her shelter.xv Whenever anyone went to her for milk, she filled the vessel with milk of the richest quality, and she never became dry. Eventually, a witch took a sieve and milked her dry. In response she walked to Llyn dau ychain, the Lake of the Two Oxen, in the parish of Cerrig-y-drudion, followed by her two children the Ychen Bannawg, the legendary long-horned oxen, bellowing as they went. They disappeared into the lake and were never seen again.xvi In County Limerick, a cow emerged from the River Deel; if she were milked a hundred times a day she would each time fill a can. She departed into the river and was never more seen, when she was cursed by a woman milking her.xvii This confluence of stone, water and animals in these narratives is a discernible element in a wide array of rock art traditions worldwide.” (from here)

THE MELODY

A slow air that is almost a lullaby, typical of the aisling song, a literary genre of Irish poetry of the 1600-1700 in which the protagonist (often a poet) has the vision in dream of a beautiful girl who represents Ireland.

Duck Baker and his guitar arrangement

John Renbourn & Stefan Grossman

The text, however, does not speak of fairies, it is rather an irish pastoral love song (a courting song), with more or less serious marriage proposals. The theme of bucolic romantic contrast is reminiscent of the medieval tradition of troubadours and of troubadour lyricism, and indeed the language is florid and full of elaborate images! Nowadays the lyrics appear a little laughable, but these songs were part of the “educational system” of the past, where the girls learned how to behave especially with noblemen who wandered the countryside in search of easy prey!
The stanzas contained in the English version are 6-8 out of 4 in Gaelic: the gallant proposals of the young man are not accepted because the girl prefers to be free rather than to bond to a man, she will marry only when she will be rich. But he replies that money does not count becouse the time of love is that of youth.
The pastoral genre was also widespread among the “gentry”, but more like a playful form or “divertissement“.

Clannad

 Hannah Peel


I
It was on a fine summer’s morning
The birds sweetly tune on each bough
And as I walked out for my pleasure
I saw a maid milking a cow
II
Her voice was so enchanting, melodious
Left me quite unable to go
My heart, it was loaded with sorrow
For the pretty maid milking her cow
III
Then to her I made my advances
“Good morrow most beautiful maid
Your beauty my heart so entrances”
“Pray sir do not banter,” she said
IV
“I’m not such a rare precious jewel
That I should enamour you so
I am but a poor little milk girl,”
Says the pretty maid milking her cow
V
The Indies afford no such jewel
So bright, so transparently clear
I do not add things to my funeral
Consent but to know me my dear
VI
Oh, had I the Lamp of Aladdin(1)
Or the wealth that gold mines can bestow
I’d rather be poor in a cottage
With the pretty girl milking her cow.”
NOTE
1) the verse is also found in another song of the same genre entitled Lough Erne Shore

In this other version we come to know the reason for the girl’s refusal, a very “feminist” motif, the girl prefers independence rather than a life of submission to her husband (see marriage in the story here)
Cathie Ryan

Sara Redding

I
It being on a fine summer’s morning
As the birds sweetly tuned on each bough,
I heard a fair maid sing most charming
As she sat milking her cow
II
Her voice was enchanting melodious
Which left me scarce able to go
My heart it was soothed with solace
By the cailín deas crúite na mbó
III
I courteously did salute her
“Good morning, most amiable maid
I’m your captive slave for the future”
“Kind sir, do not banter,’ she said…
IV
I’m not such a precious rare jewel
That I should enamour you so
I am but a plain county girl
Says the cailín deas crúite na mbó”
V
“The Indies afford no such jewels
So precious, so transparent clear
Oh do not refuse me, my jewel
Consent now and love me, my dear
VI
For riches I care not a farthing
It’s your love that I want and no more
I’d rather live poor on the mountain
With my cailín deas crúite na mbó'”
VII
“I don’t understand what you mean, sir
I ne’er was a slave yet to love
For these feelings I have no desire
I pray your affection remove
VIII
To marry, I can assure you
That state I will not undergo
I’m prepared to live single and airy”
Says the cailín deas crúite na mbó…

Sources
The Sacred Whore: Sheela Goddess of the Celts by Maureen Concannon
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/blanchebiche.htm
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/curragh-kildare.html

https://terreceltiche.altervista.org/gruagach-mhara-a-gruagach-or-a-selkie/
http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/clannad/pretty.htm
https://musescore.com/mike_magatagan/scores/118434
https://thesession.org/tunes/1758
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=6543
https://thegrammarofmatter.wordpress.com/till-the-cows-come-home-part-one-towards-a-natural-history-of-megaliths/
http://tairis-cr.blogspot.it/2015/11/oran-buaile-teiris-bho.html

Deirín dé, butterfly of the gods

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Deirín dé is the phrase repeated in the refrain of this lullaby in Irish Gaelic, and it is supposed to be the ancient name for “butterfly of the gods”, or the golden butterfly symbol of the spirit of the deceased.
For the shamans, matter is simply “condensed spirit” like the frost by the steam heated with the first light of dawn. The spirit assumes an ovoidal form, called the spiritual body, of which one part condenses into matter, ie the physical body contained in the “bubble”, and is “animated” by an immaterial part which is precisely the soul. After physical death, the spirit returns to the sky, to the parent constellation. So the butterfly undergoes a series of transformations from its initial stage of squat and terrestrial caterpillar, chrysalis and then flies away like a beautiful creature with fragile wings.

GOLDEN BUTTERFLY ON THE CAPRIONE

In Italy on Mount Caprione (Lerici, province of La Spezia, Liguria) it is possible to observe the golden butterfly coinciding with the summer solstice: the sun at sunset passes through a “window” created by the megalithic formation called “Quadrilithon“, or the “Quadrilite di San Lorenzo” (because it is located not far from the ruins of the church of San Lorenzo al Caprione), and projects a beam of light in the shape of a butterfly on the monolith behind it. Triliths with lozenge are currently only identified at Château Vieux de Randon (French Central Massif – Lozère Region) and in Corsica (territory of Niolu, Corteneais).

The rock formation is a trilith with the lozenge-shaped architrave, wedged between the two vertical stones; a fourth stone is lodged on the bottom to close the narrow portal. From the portal there is a walkway that is precisely the corridor along which the sun penetrates during its sunset at the summer solstice.

2984899_orig
“Quadrilithon” Monte Caprione – Lerici: seen from the part of the walkway, in the background we can see the monolith on whose surface the image of the butterfly is projected.

The megalithic area dates back to 8,000 BC. and the golden butterfly phenomenon starts from May 25th until its complete fullness that takes place between June 15th and 28th, while the gradual sunset of the image is observable until July 29th, the duration is about 15 minutes. (here)
Thanks to the cross studies of prof. Enrico Calzolari – expert researcher in Archeoastronomy and Paleoastronomy – we can reasonably suppose that in this area a shamanic cult was practiced that believed in the return of the spirit to the stars of the sky, in the form of a golden butterfly: the belief was probably still shared by the Celts (see note 1 below)

DEIRÍN DÉ

In this lullaby in Irish Gaelic, the mother cradles her child telling him to sleep, that when he grows up he will take care of the cattle, then he can spend the whole night collecting blackberries.

The song is also known as “The Last Wisp of Smoke”. The melody is reported as 148 Jefferson in “The Sacred Harp”, a collection of sacred choral music published by Benjamin Franklin White Elisha J. King in 1844 (Georgia, America).

Dennis Doyle in Irish Meditations 1997

Text and melody of the lullaby were instead collected by Róis Ní Ógáin (1865-1947) in the county of Antrim (Ireland) and published in “Duanaire Gaedhilge Róis Ní Ógáin” starting from 1924.

Navan

O’Sullivan’s sources [Donal O’Sullivan in Songs of the Irish 1981]: tune – Mac Coluim’s Cosa Buidhe Árda, II (1924), 22, noted from Seán Ó Cuill, Ballyvourney, Co Cork. Text – Mac Coluim’s Cosa Buidhe Árda, II from Amhlaoibh Ó Loingsigh, also of Ballyvourney, collated with version published by P.H. Pearse in the Irish Review 1911. Pearse’s version was also a collation, a woman relative from County Meath and from Amhlaoibh Ó Loingsigh.” (from here)

Bran

Fiona Tyndall 2004

english translation (here)
Deirín dé(1), deirín dé
The nightjar(2) is abroad in the heather
Deirín dé, deirín dé

The brown bittern(3) speaks in the reeds
Cows will go west at dawn of day
And my child will go mind them in the pasture
The moon will rise and the sun will set
Cows will return from the west(4) at close of day
A thrush’s nest in my little press(5)
Yes, and gold for my little darling
I shall let my child go picking berries
But sleep soundly till light of day!
Irish Gaelic
Deirín dé(1), deirín dé,
Tá’n gabhairín(2) oíche amuigh san bhfraoch,
(Tá’n gabhar donn ag labhairt sa bhfraoch)
Deirín dé, deirín dé,
Tá’n bunán donn a’ labhairt san bhféith.
(Táid na lachain ag screadaigh sa bhféith.)
Deirín dé, deirín dé,
Geóidh ba siar le héirí an lae,
(Gheobhaidh ba siar le héirí’n lae)
Deirín dé, deirín dé,
Is raghaidh mo leanbh ‘á bhfeighilt ar féar.
(Is rachaidh mo leanbh dá bhfeighilt ar féar. )
Deirín dé, deirín dé,
Eireóidh gealach is raghaidh grian fé,
Deirín dé, deirín dé,
Tiocfaidh ba aniar le deireadh an lae.
Deirín dé, deirín dé,
Leogfad mo leanbh a’ pioca sméar,
Deirín dé, deirín dé,
–Ach codail go sámh go fáinne an lae!

NOTE
1) According to the O Donaill’s Irish Dictionary, “deirin de” are meaningless words uttered in a game of children next to burning wood. But in Carmina Gadelica (Alexander Carmicheal, 1900), (here) we read that the word in Scottish Gaelic consists of ‘dealan,’ = fire, flame, lightning; and ‘De,’ = God ie the fire of God or the divine light.
“The golden butterfly is held sacred. It is said to be the angel of God come to bear the souls of the dead to heaven. If it be seen in or near the house where a person is dead or dying, the omen is good, and the friends rejoice. If it be not seen, a substitute is made by rapidly twirling a fire-pointed stick, moving the while from the dead or dying person towards the door or window. This is called ‘dearban De,’ ‘dealan De.’ The ancient Egyptians represented the soul leaving the body as a butterfly emerging from the chrysalis, sometimes from the mouth of the dead.” Then “deirin de” = “the last puff of smoke”, the puff of smoke drawn by waving a stick with an incandescent tip.
2) The nightjar [lit. little goat of the night!] is the  goatsucker because it was believed that it feeds sucking the milk from the udders of the goats. He is actually a nocturnal devourer of insects. Medium-sized it has a camouflage plumage that hides it between the bare earth, and frequents countryside and woods (here).
3) the bittern is a wader living among the reeds of ponds and lakes. It is difficult to see him because of his camouflage skills, it is easier to hear him sing at night and at the first light of dawn (here: a deep sound like the one you get by blowing slowly in a long-necked bottle) just for his voice (like the voice of the dead from the afterlife) the bittern was a bird bearer of misfortunes
4) the West is the direction in which the sun sets, but also the symbolic point in which the Other World is located
5) or coffer

Sources
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/solstizio-d-estate.html
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/farfalle.html
http://www.enricocalzolari.it/paleoeastro27.html
http://www.celticartscenter.com/Songs/Irish/DeirinDe.html http://lyberty.com/entertainment/music/celtic_cradle.html http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=1905 https://reuliuilbride.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/deirin-de-song/ http://resources.texasfasola.org/index/composers.html

Beidh aonach amárach

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“Beidh aonach amárach” or “An Gréasaí Brógè” is an irish nursery rhyme 

101618875_2nSjBKfy
Dick Kelle

Clare is a county in the province of Munster on the west coast of Ireland, very much anchored to the traditions, in which Gaelic is spoken by more than 50% of the population.
In the county there is still a big horse fair a few kilometers from Ennis at Spancilhill (also mentioned in another traditional song “Spancil hill “), but we can not know if the fair to which it refers this nursery rhyme is just that.

This nursery rhymes is a composition in very simple and repetitive verses with a well-marked rhythm, structured as a call and response between mother and daughter: the daughter begs the mother to let her go to the fair, the mother replies that she could go when she will turn 13, and now she has nine, and it is still early to make choices in life. The daughter objects that many girls have married young and that she is in love with the shoemaker.

Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh by Anam an Amhráin TG4

Altan live

English translation
Chorus
Oh mammy, won’t you let me go to the fair
Oh dearest love, don’t plead with me
I
There’s a fair tomorrow in County Clare
Why should I care, I won’t be there
II
I’ve a little daughter and she’s very young
And she’s in love with a cobbling man
III
You’re not ten or eleven years old
When you reach thirteen you’ll be more mature
IV
I’d rather have my cobbling man
Than an army officer with his gold bands
V
There is many a maid who married young
And lived in peace with her cobbling man
Irish Gaelic
Cúrfa.

Is a mháithrín an ligfidh tú chun aonaigh mé(x3)/ Is a mhuirnín óg ná healaí é
I
Beidh aonach amárach in gContae an Chláir(x3)/ Cén mhaith domh é ní bheidh mé ann
II
Tá ‘níon bheag agam is tá sí óg(x3)
Is tá sí i ngrá leis an ghreasaí bróg
III
Níl tú ach deich nó aon deag fós(x3)
Nuair a bheas tú trí deag beidh tú mór
IV
B’fhearr liom féin mo ghreasaí bróg(x3)
N fir na n’arm faoina lascú óir
V
‘S iomaí bean a phós go h-óg(x3)
Is a mhair go socair lena greasaí bróg

Na Casaidigh

I
[Iníon]: Beidh aonach amáireach
Cé maith dom é?
Ní bheidh mé ann!
Cúrfa.
[Iníon]:’S a mháithirín,
a’ ligfidh tú don aonaigh mé?
[Máthair]: A mhúirnín ó,
ná h-éilig é!

II
[Máthair]: Níl tú a deich
ná a h-aondéag fós,
Nuair a bheidh tú
trídéag beidh tú mór!
III
[Iníon]: B’fhearr liom
féin mo ghréasaí bróg,
Ná oifigeach airm
le lásaí óir!

SOURCE
http://www.irishpage.com/songs/aonach.htm
http://www.irlandaonline.com/cosa-vedere/sud/contea-di-clare/
http://clareireland.net/it/index.html
http://www.discoverireland.com/it/ireland-places-to-go/areas-and-cities/ireland-west/

Airdí Cuan, a song of exile

A song in Irish Gaelic, a song of exile, is widespread with various titles: Airdí Cuan, Ard Ti Chuain, Aird (Ard) Ui Chuanin (Cuan), Aird to Chumhaing, Ardai Chuain, also translated into English with the title “Quiet Land of Erin”
The piece was composed by John McCambridge (aka Seán Mac Ambróis 1793-1873) from Mullarts (Co. Antrim, Northen Ireland) in the middle of the 19th century. The tradition of Glenariffe, however, attributes the authorship of the piece to Cormac Ó Néill, a native of Glendun but resident at Glenariffe.
[Un canto in gaelico sulla nostalgia per la terra natia abbandonata dall’emigrante è diffuso con vari titoli: Airdí Cuan, Ard Ti Chuain, Aird (Ard) Ui Chuanin ( Cuan),  Aird a Chumhaing, Ardai Chuain, versificato anche in inglese con il titolo “Quiet Land of Erin
Il brano è stato composto da John McCambridge (alias Seán Mac Ambróis 1793-1873) di Mullarts (  Co. Antrim,  Irlanda del Nord) a metà del XIX secolo. La tradizione di  Glenariffe tuttavia attribuisce la paternità del brano a Cormac Ó Néill, nativo di Glendun ma residente a Glenariffe.]

Firstly we listen to the melody played with the harp by Kim Robertson
[Prima di tutto ascoltiamo la melodia suonata con l’arpa da Kim Robertson]

and by Alan Stivell -Airde Cuan
[e dall’arpa di Alan Stivell]

IRIS GEALIC VERSION
LA VERSIONE IN GAELICO

The first transcription of the song comes from Robert McAdam who collected it in the 1830s by John McCambridge. Eoin Mac Néill published the text in 1895 and in 1912 Eleanor Hull wrote the translation in English. Dónal Kearney writes  in his Blog:”The story of Airdí Cuan is told from the perspective of a Glensman who has moved over the sea to Scotland. From Ayrshire, he can still see the hills of Antrim and he longs for his home in Glendun and the beautiful hillside at Airdí Cuan. One story goes that McCambridge left his native Glendun, perhaps to escape the potato famine, and settled in Ayrshire where he ultimately died pining for the hills of home, still visible on the western horizon. Airdí Cuan tells of his love for the ‘cuckoo glen’; (Glendun) and of playing hurling at Christmas on the ‘white strand’ (the beach at Cushendun).
Another school of thought believes that, while McCambridge was considering emigrating to the Mull of Kintyre, he stood atop Ardicoan and imagined himself over in Kintyre looking back on his native soil. However, the process of writing the song made him so homesick that he decided not to go in the end, and thus spent the rest of his days in Ireland!
[La prima trascrizione del brano ci viene da Robert McAdam che la raccolse negli anni del 1830 da  John McCambridge.  Eoin Mac Néill pubblicò il testo nel 1895 e nel 1912 Eleanor Hull scrisse la traduzione in inglese. Del brano Così scrive Dónal Kearney nel suo Blog: “La storia di Airdí Cuan è raccontata dal punto di vista di un Glensman che è emigrato oltre il mare in Scozia. Dall’Ayrshire, può ancora vedere le colline di Antrim e desidera ardentemente la sua casa a Glendun e la splendida collina di Airdí Cuan. Una storia racconta che McCambridge lasciò la natia Glendun, forse per sfuggire alla carestia delle patate, e si stabilì nell’Ayrshire dove alla fine morì struggendosi per le colline di casa, ancora visibili all’orizzonte verso occidente. Airdí Cuan racconta del suo amore per Glendun e del gioco dell’hurling a Natale sulla spiaggia di Cushendun. Altri credono che, mentre McCambridge stava pensando di emigrare al Mull di Kintyre, si trovava in cima ad Ardicoan e si immaginava a Kintyre mentre guardava verso la sua terra nativa. Orbene il processo di scrittura della canzone lo ha reso così nostalgico, che alla fine ha deciso di non andare, e così ha trascorso il resto dei suoi giorni in Irlanda!]

Eamonn ó Faogáin live

Celtic Tradition in “An Irish Christmas Album” recorded in 1987 when there was still the GDR
[Nel “An Irish Christmas Album” registrato nel 1987 quando c’era ancora la DDR]

Maighread Ni Dhomhnaill & Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill

Ciara McCrickard


Anúna in Omnis  1996 (III, I)

Maggie Boyle in Patriot Games 1992 in Reaching Out

I
Dá mbeinn féin in Airdí Cuan (1)
in aice an tsléibhe úd ‘tá i bhfad uaim
b’annamh liom gan dul ar cuairt
go Gleann na gCuach (2) Dé Domhnaigh.
Curfá:
agus och, och Éire ‘lig is ó
Éire lonndubh (3) agus ó
is é mo chroí ‘tá trom is é brónach.
II
Is iomaí Nollaig ‘bhí mé féin
i mbun abhann Doinne (4) is mé gan chéill
ag iomáin ar an trá bhán
is mo chamán bán i mo dhorn liom (5).
III
Nach tuirseach mise anseo liom féin
nach n-airím guth coiligh, londubh nó traon,
gealbhán, smaolach, naoscach féin,
is chan aithním féin an Domhnach.
IV
Dá mbeadh agam féin ach coit is rámh
nó go n-iomarfainn ar an tsnámh
ag dúil as Dia go sroichfinn slán
is go bhfaighinn bás in Éirinn.


I
If I were in Airdí Cuan (1)
beside that mountain far from me,
it would be seldom I would not go visiting
to Gleann na gCuach(2) on a Sunday
Chorus:
And oh, oh, Ireland, ‘lig is ó
Blackbird (3) Ireland and ó
and my heart it is heavy and sorrowful
II
It’s often in a Christmas Day I was
in Cushendun (4)
and me without sense
hurling on the white strand
and my hurling stick in my fist (5)
III
Aren’t I tired here alone
That I don’t hear the voice of a cockerel, blackbird, or corncrake
sparrow, thrush, snipe (6)
and I don’t even know when it’s Sunday (7)
IV
If only I had a boat and oar
so that I may row on the water
desiring of God that may I reach safety
and that I may die in Ireland
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
Se fossi a  Articoan
accanto a quella montagna che (ora) è lontana
raramente non andrei a visitare
il Glendun di domenica
Coro
e oh, oh, Irlanda, ‘lig is ó
merlo d’Irlanda e ó
e il mio cuore è affranto
II
Spesso a Natale ero
a Cushendun,
spensierato,
a giocare a hurling sulla spiaggia
con la mia mazza in pugno
III
Non sono infelice, qui da solo
dove non riesco a sentire il canto della beccaccia, del merlo, del re di quaglie,
del passero, del tordo e del beccaccino
e nemmeno so quando è domenica?
IV
Se solo avessi una barca e remi
così da vogare sulle acque
e Dio volendo arrivare sano e salvo
e poter morire in Irlanda!


NOTE
* in the blog of Dónal Kearney there are two translations in English, one literal and the other more poetic. here is the most literal translation, while for my translation into Italian I made a summary of the two translations [nel blog di Dónal Kearney ci sono due traduzioni in inglese, una letterale e l’altra più poetica. qui si riporta la traduzione più letterale, mentre per la mia traduzione in italiano ho fatto un compendio delle due traduzioni]
1) Articoan is located above Knocknacry; between Cushendall and Cushendun at the northeast corner of County Antrim in Northern Ireland [Articoan si trova sopra Knocknacry; tra Cushendall e Cushendun all’angolo nord-est della contea di Antrim nell’Irlanda del Nord]
2) Glendun: Glen of the Dun river or Brown Glen is one of the famous Glens of Antrim [Glendun: Glen of the Dun river o Brown Glen  è uno dei famosi Glens di Antrim]
3)
Agus och, och Éire ‘lig is ó
Éire lionn dubh orm is ó
(And oh Ireland, all of Ireland
Ireland who I miss
4) Cushendun is a picturesque Cornish style village built specifically for his wife by Lord Cushendun [Cushendun un pittoresco villaggio in stile cornovaglia fatto costruire appositamente da Lord Cushendun per la moglie.]
5) the hurling game is an Irish national sport; the day mentioned in the song is the Boxing day or December 26, the day dedicated to outdoor activities in the British Isles
[il gioco dell’hurling è uno sport nazionale irlandese che si gioca con mazza e palla: il giorno citato nella canzone è il Boxing day ovvero il 26 dicembre, il giorno consacrato per le attività all’aperto che nelle Isole Britanniche è dedicato allo sport.]
6) as in ancient Gaelic chants the birds are part of the healing process of the soul [come negli antichi canti in gaelico gli uccelli sono parte del processo di guarigione dell’anima]
7) the question is a rhetorical figure: “Sunday has no meaning for me without these things” [la domanda è una figura retorica:  la domenica è per me priva di significato, valore senza queste cose]

 

The song was also recorded as “The Land of Erin” by Mairí Ní She & Katie McMahon and “River of Live” by Pól Brennan, Guo Yue & Joji Hirota and Tristan.
[Il brano è anche stato registrato con il titolo di The Land of Erin da Mairí Ní She & Katie McMahon e con il titolo di River of Live da Pól Brennan, Guo Yue & Joji Hirota e da Tristan.]

The Quiet Land of Erin

The song was written into English for some recordings as “The Quiet Land of Erin” in the 1930s.
[Il brano è stato versificato in inglese con il titolo di The Quiet Land of Erin. per alcune registrazioni negli anni 1930]
The Corries

Sandy Denny 1968

and for lovers of bel canto
[e per gli amanti del bel canto]
The Celtic Tenors


Joan O’Hara version
I
By myself I’d be in Ard Ti Chuain
Where the mountains stand away
And ‘tis there I’d let the Sundays pass (go)
In a quiet (cuckoo’s) glen above the bay
(chorus)
agus och och Eire lig is o
Eire leanndubh agus o
The quiet land of Erin
II
But my heart is weary all alone
And it sends a lonely cry
To the land that sings above (beyond) my dreams
And the lonely Sundays pass me by.
III
I would travel back the twisted years
Through (in) the bitter wasted wind
If the Lord (God) above would let me lie
In a quiet place above the whins.


Seán Ó Gallochoir version
I
I wish I were in Ardti Cuan
Near yon mountain far away.
I would seldom let the Sunday go
From the Cuckoo’s glen across the bay.
Chorus:
And it’s oh dear Ireland, you’re my home!
Far from you I had to roam
And so my heart is sore and heavy.
II
It is many a Christmas Day I had
In Cushendun while still a lad;
Hurling on the White Shore Strand
With my good ash hurley in my hand.
III
But the grave is waiting for us all;
The whole wide world must heed its call.
It steals the mother from her brood
As it stole away my boyhood.
IV
If I only had a boat and oar,
I would row to Erin’s shore
Trusting God to see me o’er
In time to die in Ireland.
Traduzione in italiano Cattia Salto
versione di Joan O’Hara
I
Per me vorrei essere a Articoan
le cui montagne si stagliano in lontananza
è lì che passerei le domeniche
in una valle tranquilla sopra la baia
Coro
agus och och Eire lig is o
Eire leanndubh agus o
la bella terra di Erin
II
Ma il mio cuore è stanco del suo esilio
e grida solitario
alla terra che canta oltre i miei sogni
e le domeniche solitarie scivolano via.
III
Viaggerei indietro negli anni piegati
dal vento amaro della desolazione (1)
se il Signore in Cielo mi accoglierà
in un bel posto nella brughiera


versione di Seán Ó Gallochoir
I
Vorrei essere a Articoan
accanto a quella montagna in lontananza
raramente non andrei a visitare di domenica
la valle del Cuculo al di là della baia
Coro
E’ così cara Irlanda, tu sei la mia casa!
Lontano da te ho dovuto peregrinare
e così il mio cuore è afflitto
II
Sono molti i giorni di Natale che ho vissuto
a Cushendun quando ero ancora un ragazzo
a giocare ad hurling sulla Spiaggia Bianca
con la mia bella mazza in mano
III
Ma la tomba attende tutti
l’intero mondo deve ubbidire al suo richiamo.
Ruba la madre dalla sua nidiata
come ha rubato la mia giovinezza.
IV
Se avessi solo una barca a remi
vogherei alla riva d’Erin
confidando che Dio mi protegga
per morire infine in Irlanda

NOTE
1) ho tradotto un po’ liberamente il verso, credo si riferisca ai duri e amari anni della carestia quando molti Irlandesi hanno dovuto abbandonare la loro terra per non morire di fame

LINK
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=10469
https://mainlynorfolk.info/sandy.denny/songs/thequietlandoferin.html
https://songoftheisles.com/2013/05/31/aird-ui-chuain/
https://durrushistory.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/a-history-of-protestant-irish-speakers.pdf
https://songsinirish.com/aird-a-chuamhaing-anam-lyrics/
http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/anam/aird.htm
http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/mcmahon/land.htm
http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/trisan/river.htm
http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/domhnaill/aird.htm
http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/anuna/ardaigh.htm
http://www.irishbodhrans.com/news/read/7/very-old-poem-about-cushendun-by-john-mccambridge
https://www.donalkearney.com/blog/airdi-cuan

Bonny Portmore: the ornament tree

Leggi in italiano

When the great oak of Portmore was break down in 1760, someone wrote a song known as “The Highlander’s Farewell to Bonny Portmore“; in 1796 Edward Bunting picked it up from Daniel Black, an old harpist from Glenoak (Antrim, Northern Ireland), and published it in “Ancient Music of Ireland” – 1840.
The age-old oak was located on the estate of Portmore’s Castle on the banks of Lugh Bege and it was knocked down by a great wind; the tree was already famous for its posture and was nicknamed “the ornament tree“. The oak was cut and the wood sold, from the measurements made we know that the trunk was 13 meters wide.

LOUGH PORTMORE

1032910_tcm9-205039Loch un Phoirt Mhóir (lake with a large landing place) is an almost circular lake in the South-West of Antrim County, Northern Ireland, today a nature reserve for bird protection.
The property formerly belonged to the O’Neill clan of Ballinderry, while the castle was built in 1661 or 1664 by Lord Conway (on the foundations of an ancient fortress) between Lough Beg and Lough Neagh; the estate was rich in centenarian trees and beautiful woods; however, the count fell into ruin and lost the property when he decided to drain Lake Ber to cultivate the land (the drainage system called “Tunny cut” is still existing); the ambitious project failed and the land passed into the hands of English nobles.
In other versions more simply the Count’s dynasty became extinct and the new owners left the estate in a state of neglect, since they did not intend to reside in Ireland. Almost all the trees were cut down and sold as timber for shipbuilding and the castle fell into disrepair.

Bonny Portmore could be understood symbolically as the decline of the Irish Gaelic lords: pain and nostalgia mixed in a lament of a twilight beauty; the dutiful tribute goes to Loreena McKennitt who brought this traditional iris  song to the international attention.
Loreena McKennitt in The Visit 1991
Nights from the Alhambra: live

CHORUS
O bonny Portmore,
you shine where you stand
And the more I think on you the more I think long
If I had you now as I had once before
All the lords in Old England would not purchase Portmore.
I
O bonny Portmore, I am sorry to see
Such a woeful destruction of your ornament tree
For it stood on your shore for many’s the long day
Till the long boats from Antrim came to float it away.
II
All the birds in the forest they bitterly weep
Saying, “Where will we shelter or where will we sleep?”
For the Oak and the Ash (1), they are all cutten down
And the walls of bonny Portmore are all down to the ground.
NOTE
1) coded phrase to indicate the decline of the Gaelic lineage clans

Laura Marling live
Laura Creamer

Lucinda Williams in Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys ANTI 2006


Dan Gibson & Michael Maxwell in Emerald Forest instrumental version
And here I open a small parenthesis recalling a personal episode of a long time ago in which I met an ancient tree: at the time I lived in Florence and I had the opportunity to turn a bit for Tuscany, now I can not remember the location, but I know that I was in the Colli Senesi and it was summer; someone advised us to go and see an old holm oak, explaining roughly to the road; in the distance it seemed we were approaching a grove, in reality it was a single tree whose foliage was so leafy and vast, the old branches so bent, that to get closer to the trunk we had to bow. I still remember after many years the feeling of a presence, a deep and vital breath, and the discomfort that I tried to disturb the place. I do not exaggerate speaking of fear at all, and I think that feeling was the same feeling experienced by the ancient man, who felt in the centenarian trees the presence of a spirit.
SOURCE
http://www.angelfire.com/ca/immie/bonny.html
http://www.sentryjournal.com/2010/10/11/the-fate-of-bonny-portmore/
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=15567
http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/p/portmorelough/about.aspx

Carrickfergus or Do Bhí Bean Uasal

Leggi in italiano

“Carrickfergus” comes from a Gaelic song titled Do Bhí Bean Uasal (see) or “There Was a Noblewoman” and is also known by the name of “The Sick Young Lover”, which appeared in a broadside distributed in Cork and dated 1840 and also in the collection of George Petrie “Ancient Music of Ireland” 1855 with the name of “The Young Lady”. Text and melody passed through the oral tradition have spread and changed, without leaving a consistent trace in the collections printed in the nineteenth century. This song has been attributed to the irish bard Cathal “Buí”

IRISH BREIFNE
cathal buiCathal “Buí” Mac Giolla Ghunna (c1680-c1756) a rake-poet from Co. Cavan.
Curious character nicknamed “Buil” the yellow, a bard vagabond storyteller and composer of poems, which have spread throughout Ireland and are still sung today.
The scholar Breandán Ó Buachalla has published his collection in the book “Cathal Bui: Amhráin” in 1975. In Blacklion County of Cavan there is also a small stele in his memory and it is celebrated the Cathal Bui Festival (month of June).
A incomplete priest able with words and with women, he also had a lot of “irish humor” and was obviously a heavy drinker, he went around Breifne, the Irish name of the area including Cavan, Leitrim, and south of Fermanagh ( one of the many traveler with his caravan or even less).

PETER O’TOOLE

But it is the version known by Peter O’Toole that was the origin of the version of Dominic Behan recorded in the mid-1960s under the title “The Kerry Boatman“, and also the version recorded by Sean o’Shea always in the same years with the title “Do Bhí Bean Uasal”. Also the Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem made their own version with the title “Carrickfergus” in the 1964 “The First Hurray” LP.

Chieftains from “The Chieftains Live” 1977

DO BHÍ BEAN UASAL

This version has been attributed musically to Seán Ó Riada (John Reidy 1931-1971) it is not clear if it is only an arrangement or a real writing of the melody. Certainly the text is taken from the poetry of Cathal “Buí” Mac Giolla Ghunna.

Sean o’Shea in “Ò Riada Sa Gaiety” live in Dublino with the Ceoltóirí Chualann, 1969.

English translation
I
A lady was betrothed to me for a while
And she refused me, oh my hundred woes
I went to towns with her
And she made a cuckold (or a fool ) of  me before the world,
If I had got that head of hers into the church
And if I were again  n command of myself,
But now I’ weak and sore,  and there’s no getting of a  cure for me,
And my people will be weeping after me
II
I wish I had you in   Carrickfergus
not far from that place ‘Quiet Town”
Sailing over the deep blue waters
my bright love from a northern sky
For the seas are deep, love, and I can’t swim over
And neither have I wings to fly,
I wish I met with a handy boatman,
Who would ferry over my love and I
III
The cold and the heat are going together [in me]
and I can’t quench my thirst
And if I took my oath from November to February
I wouldn’t be ready until Michaelmas
I’m seldom drunk though I’m never sober!
A handsome rover from town to town.
But now I am dead and my days are over
Come Molly, my little darling, now   lay me down!

I

Do bhí bean uasal seal dá lua liom,
‘s do chuir sí suas díomsa faraoir géar;
Do ghabhas lastuas di sna bailte móra
Ach d’fhag sí ann é os comhair an tsaoil.
Dá bhfaighinnse a ceannsa faoi áirsí an teampaill,
Do bheinnse gan amhras im ‘ábhar féin;
Ach anois táim tinn lag is gan fáil ar leigheas agam.
Is beidh mo mhuintir ag gol im’ dhéidh.
II
I wish I had you in Carrickfergus
Ní fada ón áit sin go Baile Uí Chuain(1)/Sailing over the deep blue waters/ I ndiaidh mo ghrá geal is í ag ealó uaim./For the seas are deep, love, and I can’t swim over
And neither have I wings to fly,
I wish I met with a handy boatman,
Who would ferry over my love and I.
III
Tá an fuacht ag teacht is an teas ag tréigint
An tart ní féidir liom féin é do chlaoi,
Is go bhfuil an leabhar orm ó Shamhain go Fébur
Is ní bheidh sí reidh liom go Féil’ Mhichíl;/I’m seldom drunk though I’m never sober!
A handsome rover from town to town.
But now I am dead and my days are over
Come Molly, a stóirín, now lay me down!

NOTE
1) “baile cuain”= “quiet town” or Harbour Town

THE VERSION OF THE YEARS 60 AND MEANING

And we come to what remains of this song in our day, that is the version of Carrickfergus spread by the major interpreters of Celtic music.
The sweet melancholy of the melody and its uncertain textual interpretation have made the song very popular, some capture the romantic side and also play it at weddings, others at the funeral (for example that of John F. Kennedy Jr -1999).
Certainly it has something magical, sad and nostalgic, the man drowns in alcohol the pain of separation from his beloved (or more likely he drinks because he has a particular predilection for alcohol): a vast ocean divides them (or a stretch of sea) and he would like to be in Ireland, in Carrickfergus: he would like to have wings or to swim across the sea or more realistically find a boatman to take him to her, and finally he can die in her arms ( or at her tombstone) now that he is old and tired.

In my opinion, the general meaning of the text remains clear enough, but if you go into detail then many doubts arise, which I tried to summarize in the notes.

Loreena McKennitt & Cedric Smith  from Elemental, 1985


I
I wish I was
in Carrighfergus (1)
Only for nights
in Ballygrant (2)
I would swim over
the deepest ocean
Only for nights in Ballygrant.
But the sea is wide,
and I can’t swim over
Neither have I wings to fly
If I could find me a handsome boatman
To ferry me over
to my love and die(3)

II
Now in Kilkenny (4), it is reported
They’ve marble stones there as black as ink,
With gold and silver
I would  transport her (5)
But I’ll sing no more now,
till I get a drink
I’m drunk today,
but I’m seldom sober
A handsome rover
from town to town
Ah, but I am sick now,
my days are over
Come all you young lads
and lay me down.(6)

NOTES
1) Carrickfergus (from the Gaelic Carraig Fhearghais, ‘Rocca di Fergus’) is a coastal town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, one of the oldest settlements in Northern Ireland. Here the protagonist says he wants to be at Carrickfergus (but evidently he is somewhere else) while in other versionssays “I wish I had you in Carrickfergus”: the meaning of the song changes completely.
Some want to set the story in the South of Ireland and they see the name of Fergus,as the river that runs through Ennis County of Clare.
2) Ballygran – Ballygrant – Ballygrand. There are three interpretations: the first that Ballygrant is in Scotland on the Hebrides (Islay island), the second that is the village of Ballygrot (from the Gaelic Baile gCrot means “settlement of hills”), near Helen’s Bay that it is practically in front of Carrickfergus over the stretch of sea that creeps over the north-east coast of Ireland (the Belfast Lough). It seems that the locals call it “Ballygrat” or Ballygrant “and that it is an ancient settlement and that at one time there were some races with the Carrickfergus boats at Ballygrat.The third is a corrupt translation from the Gaelic” baile cuain “of the eighteenth-century version and therefore both a generic quiet location, a small village.
But between the two sentences there is already an incongruity or better there is need of an interpretation, ascertained that Ballygrant is not a particular place of Carrickfergus for which the protagonist feels nostalgia for some specific connection with his love story passed in youth, then it is the place where it is at the moment. So the protagonist could be an Irishman who found himself in the Hebrides, but who would like to return to Carrickfergus from his old love or he is a Scot (who was a young soldier in Ireland) and remembers with regret the Irish woman loved in youth.
The protagonist could be in Helen’s Bay on the opposite side of the inlet that separates it from Carrickfergus: if he were healthy and young nothing would prevent him to go to Carrickfergus even on foot, but he is tired and he is dying and so in his fantasy or delirium he is looking at the sea in the direction of Carrickfergus deaming of flying towards his love of the past or he wants to be ferried by a boatman to be able to die next to her.
3) “and die” tells us that the protagonist who is in Ballygrant (wherever he is) would like to go to Carrickfergus to die in the arms of his love of youth.
In other versions the phrase is written as “To ferry me over my love and I” the protagonist would like to be transported by the boatman, together with his woman, to Carrickfergus. So nostalgia is about the place where the protagonist is supposed to have spent his youth and would like to see again before he died.
4) and 5)
Now on the Kilkenny stone it is written,
on black marble like ink,
with gold and silver I would like to comfort her
Replacing the verb “to transport” used by Loreena with “to support” more used in other versions. That is: on the black stone of Kilkenny (in the sense that it is usually a type of stone such as Carrara marble,  the black stone extracted from Kilkenny but also used in Ballygrant, wherever it is) that will be my tombstone where I have recorded my epitaph, I also wrote a sentence of comfort for my love
4) Kilkenny = Kilmeny some see a typo and note that Kilmeny is the parish church of Ballygrant (Islay Island) formerly a medieval church, also here there is a stone quarry, which was the main industry of Ballygrant in the eighteenth century and XIX. Now I ask myself: but with all these references to the Islay Island, (where at least there should be the tomb of the protagonist) how is it that the song is not known in the local tradition of the Hebrides and instead is it in Belfast?
6) the protagonist urges his friends to bury him

Nella versione live aggiunge anche la strofa intermedia che è stata scritta da Dominic Behan per la sua versione registrata a metà degli anni 1960 con il titolo di “The Kerry Boatman”.

Jim McCann in Dubliners Now 1975 (I and III)

Jim McCann live (with the second stanza written by Dominic Behan for his version recorded in the mid-1960s under the title “The Kerry Boatman”.

JIM MCCANN
I
I wish I was
in Carrickfergus (1)
Only for nights
in Ballygrand(2)
I would swim
over the deepest ocean
Only for nights in Ballygrand.
But the sea is wide
and I cannot swim over
And neither have I the wings to fly
I wish I had a handsome boatman
To ferry me over my love and I(3)
II
My childhood days
bring back sad reflections
Of happy time there spent so long ago
My boyhood friends
and my own relations
Have all passed on now
like the melting snow
And I’ll spend my days
in this endless roving
Soft is the grass and my bed is free
How to be back now
in Carrickfergus
On the long road down to the sea
 

III
And in Kilkenny
it is reported
On marble stone
there as black as ink
With gold and silver
I would support her (5)
But I’ll sing no more now
till I get a drink
‘cause I’m drunk today
and I’m seldom sober
A handsome rover
from town to town
Ah but I am sick now
my days are numbered
Come all me young men
and lay me down

LINK
http://www.eofeasa.ie/cathalbui/public_html/danta_CB/who_was_CB.html
http://lookingatdata.com/m/204-mac-giolla-ghunna-cathal-bui.html
http://www.munster-express.ie/opinion/views-from-the-brasscock/the-yellow-bitternan-bonnan-bui/

http://jungle-bar.blogspot.it/2009/03/carrickfergus-ballad-of-peter-otoole.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=16707
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=90070

She Moved through the Fair like the swan in the evening moves over the lake

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The original text of “She Moved trough the Fair” dates back to an ancient Irish ballad from Donegal, while the melody could be from the Middle Ages (for the musical scale used that recalls the Arab one). The standard version comes from the pen of Padraic Colum (1881-1972) which rewrote it in 1909. There are many versions of the text (additional verses, rewriting of the verses), also in Gaelic, reflecting the great popularity of the song, the song was published in the Herbert Hughes collection “Irish Country Songs” (1909), and in the collection of Sam Henry “Songs of the People” (1979).
In its essence, the story tells of a girl promised in marriage who appears in a dream to her lover. But the verses are cryptic, perhaps because they lack those that would have clarified its meaning; this is what happens to the oral tradition (who sings does not remember the verses or changes them at will) and the ballad lends itself to at least two possible interpretations.

In the first few strophes, the woman, full of hope, reassures her lover that her family, although he is not rich, will approve his marriage proposal, and they will soon be married; they met on the market day, and he looks at her as she walks away and, in a twilight image, compares her to a swan that moves on the placid waters of a lake.

cigno in volo

The third stanza is often omitted, and it is not easy to interpret: the unexpressed pain could be the girl’s illness (which will cause her death) – probably the consumption- for this reason people were convinced that their marriage would not be celebrated.
And we arrive at the last stanza, the rarefied and dreamy one in which the ghost of her appears at night: an evanescent figure that moves slowly to call him soon to death .

The other interpretation of the text (shared by most) supposes she escaped with another one (or more likely her family has combined a more advantageous marriage, not being the suitor loved by her quite rich). But the love he feels for her is so great and even if he continues his life by marrying another, he will continue to miss her.
The verses related to an unexpressed pain are therefore interpreted as the lack of confidence in the new wife because he will be still, and forever, in love with his first girlfriend.
The final stanza becomes the epilogue of his life, when he is old and dying, he sees his first love appear beside to console him.

As we can see both the reconstructions are adaptable to the verses, admirable and fascinating of the song, precisely because of their meager essentiality (an ante-litteram hermeticism): no self-pity, no sorrow shown, but the simplicity of a great love, that few memories passed together can be enough to fill a life.

A single, strong, elegiac image of a candid swan in the twilight, anticipation of her fleeting passage on earth. The song is a lament and there are many musicians who have interpreted it, recreating the rarefied atmosphere of the words, often with the delicate sound of the harp.

Loreena McKennitt  from Elemental  ( I, II, III, IV)
Nights from the Alhambra 2007

Moya Brennan & Cormac De Barra from Against the wind

Cara Dillon live

Sinead O’Connor  (Sinead has recorded many versions of this song )


I
My (young) love said to me,
“My mother(1) won’t mind
And my father won’t slight you
for your lack of kind(2)”
she stepped away from me (3)
and this she did say:
“It will not be long, love,
till our wedding day”
II
She stepped away from me (4)
and she moved through the fair (5)
And fondly I watched her
move here and move there
And then she turned homeward (6)
with one star awake(7)
like the swan (8) in the evening(9)
moves over the lake
III
The people were saying
“No two e’er were wed”
for one has the sorrow
that never was said(10)
And she smiled as she passed me
with her goods and her gear
And that was the last
that I saw of my dear.
IV (11)
Last night she came to me,
my dead(12) love came
so softly she came
that her feet made no din
and she laid her hand on me (13)
and this she did say
“It will not be long, love,
‘til our wedding day”
NOTES
1) Padraic Colum wrote
“My brothers won’t mind,
And my parents.. ”
2) kind – kine: “wealth” or “property”. Others interpret the word as “relatives” so the protagonist is an orphan or by obscure origins
3) or she laid a hand on me (cwhich is a more intimate and direct gesture to greet with one last contact)
4) or She went away from me
5) the days of the fair were the time of love when the young men had the opportunity to meet with the girls of marriageable age
6) Loreena McKennitt sings
And she went her way homeward
7) the evening star that appears before all the others is the planet Venus
8) The swan is one of the most represented animals in the Celtic culture, portrayed on different objects and protagonist of numerous mythological tales. see more
9) in the evening it refers to the moment when they separate
10) the sorrow that never was said: obscure meaning
11) Loreena McKennitt sings
I dreamed it last night
That my true love came in
So softly she entered
Her feet made no din
She came close beside me
12) some interpreters omit the word “death” by proposing for the dream version, or they say “my dear love” or “my own love” but also “my young love
13) or “She put her arms round me

Chieftains&Van Morrison

Chieftains&Sinead O’Connor
Fairport Convention

Alan Stivell from “Chemíns De Terre” 1973
Andreas Scholl

A version entitled “The Wedding Song” has been handed down, which develops the theme of abandonment, and which is to be considered a variant even if with a different title
second part

LINK
http://thesession.org/tunes/4735
http://knifeandforkfactory.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/she-moves-through-the-fair-meaning-and-interpretation-part-1/
http://knifeandforkfactory.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/she-moves-through-the-fair-modern-lyrics-and-variations/
http://mainlynorfolk.info/anne.briggs/songs/shemovesthroughthefair.html

Bonnie Kellswater

“Bonnie Kellswater” è un brano tradizionale irlandese (Irlanda del Nord) reso popolare dai Planxty (già in repertorio degli Irish Rovers nel loro album The Unicorn del 1967) . Raccolto sul campo da Sam Henry dalla voce di Jim Carmichael di Ballymena (contea di Antrim)  che lo riporta nel suo monumentale “The Song of the People” (con note di John Moulden 1979 già pubblicate sul  “Northern Constitution” tra il 1923 e il 1939) al numero H695.

[“Bonnie Kellswater” is a traditional Irish song (Northern Ireland) popularized by Planxty (formerly in Irish Rovers’ repertoire in their 1967 album The Unicorn) dedicated to the Kells Water River that runs through Antrim County. Collected on the field by Sam Henry (from Jim Carmichael of Ballymena) in his monumental “The Song of the People” (with notes by John Moulden 1979 already published in the “Northern Constitution” between 1923 and 1939) to the number H695 .]

Del brano si conoscono vari testi sempre legati alla stessa melodia con versioni sia al maschile che al femminile, nelle versioni maschili si tratta di un sereno canto d’amore dedicato a Marta (Molly) con immagini dolci e bucoliche dell’amato Kellswater; in quelle al femminile invece l’amore è contrastato dal padre della ragazza che riesce a separare i due innamorati: il canto assume così l’andamento di un farewell, triste e malinconico (emigration song), è la donna ad attendere il caro Willy nella vecchia Irlanda con la certezza nel cuore che lui ritornerà a prenderla.

“We know several texts always related to the same melody with both male and female versions, in the male versions it is a serene love song dedicated to Martha (Molly), with sweet and bucolic images; in women version instead the love is contrasted by the girl’s father who manages to separate the two lovers: the song is like a Farewell, sad and melancholy (emigration song), it is the woman to wait for her dear Willy in old Ireland with the certainty in her heart that he will return and take her.”

LA MELODIA (TUNE)
Ascoltiamola in un arrangiamento per chitarre del gruppo Cord’Accord

Planxty in The Woman I Loved So Well 1980Loreena McKennitt in “Elemental” canta la versione dei Planxty (Planxty version)


I
Here’s a health to you, bonny Kellswater (1)
Where you’ll get all the pleasures of life,
Where you’ll get all the fishing and fowling,
And a bonny wee lass for your wife.
II
Oh, it’s down where yon waters run muddy,
I’m afraid they will never run clear.
And it’s when I dig in for to study,
My mind is on them that’s not here.
III
It’s this one and that one they court him,
but if anyone gets him but me,
It’s early and late I will curse them
That parted lovely Willie from me.
IV
Oh, a father he calls on his daughter,
“Two choices I’ll give unto thee.
Would you rather see Willie’s ship a-sailing,
Or see him hung like a dog from yon tree?”
V
“Oh, Father, dear Father, I love him.
I can no longer hide it from thee.
Through an acre of fire I would travel
Alone with lovely Willie to be.”
VI
Oh, hard was the heart that confined her,
She took from her her heart’s delight.
May the chains of old Ireland bind around them,
And soft be their pillows at night.
VII
“Oh, yonder’s a ship on the ocean
And she does not know which way to steer.
From the east to the west she’s a-going.
She reminds me of the charms of my dear.
VIII
Oh, it’s yonder my Willie will be coming,
He said he’d be here in the spring,
And it’s down by yon green shades I’ll meet him,
And among yon wild roses we’ll sing.
IX
For a gold ring he placed on my finger,
Saying “Love, bear this in your mind,
If ever I sail from Old Ireland,
You’ll mind I’ll not leave you behind.”
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Salute a te,
bel Kellswater
dove si trovano tutti i piaceri
della vita
dove si trova da pescare e cacciare in abbondanza
e una bella ragazza per moglie.
II
Oh è laggiù dove corre quel fiume dalla acque fangose,
temo che non scorreranno mai limpide,
e quando mi metto sotto a studiare
la mia mente è con loro tranne che qui.
III
Questa e quella lo corteggiano
ma nessun’altra lo avrà tranne me,
presto o tardi  maledirò
coloro che hanno separato il bel Willy da me
IV
Un padre chiama la figlia
“Ti darò due scelte.
Preferiresti vedere salpare il tuo Willy su una nave
o vederlo impiccato ad un albero come un cane ?”
V
“Padre, caro padre io lo amo.
Non posso nascondertelo più a lungo.
In mezzo a un acro di fuoco andrei pur di stare da sola con il mio bel Willy”
VI
Oh duro era il cuore che la confinava in casa
che le toglieva la gioia del cuore.
Possano le catene della vecchia Irlanda legarsi attorno a loro
e i cuscini di notte essere soffici.
VII
“C’è una nave sull’oceano
e non sa che rotta prendere
da oriente a occidente è in partenza,
mi ricorda il fascino del mio amore.
VIII
Da laggiù il mio Willy ritornerà
diceva che sarebbe stato qui per la primavera
e tra quei verdi boschetti lo incontrerò
e tra quelle roselline selvatiche canteremo
IX
Perchè lui mi mise l’anello al dito
dicendo “Amore, tieni questo in mente
anche se parto dalla vecchia Irlanda
ricordati che non ti lascio indietro”

NOTE
1) nome di un fiume ma anche di un piccolo villaggio nella contea di Antrim vicino a Kells.John Moulden scrive “Il Kellswater, un affluente del fiume Main, diventa il fiume Glenwhinny sul versante ovest della collina di Agnews che domina Larne, e poi scorre verso ovest attraverso Kells, prendendo il suo nome mentre avanza, e si unisce al Main a circa cinque miglia a nord di Randalstown . ”
[a river and a hamlet nearby Kells in Co. Antrim. John Moulden writes “The Kellswater, a tributary of the River Main, rises as the Glenwhinny river on the west slope of Agnews hill which overlooks Larne, and then flows westward through Kells, collecting its name as it goes, and joins the Main about five miles north of Randalstown. ]

Irish Rovers in The Unicorn 1967


I
Here’s a health to you, bonnie Kellswater
For its there you’ll find the pleasures of life
And its there you’ll find a fishing and farming
And a bonnie wee girl for your wife
II (1)
On the hills and the glens and the valleys
Grows the softest of women so fine
And the flowers are all dripping with honey
There lives Martha, a true love of mine
III
Bonnie Martha, you’re the first girl I courted
You’re the one put my heart in a snare
And if ever I should lose you to another
I will leave my Kellswater so fair
IV
For this one and that one may court her
But no other can take her from me
For I love her as I love my Kellswater
Like the primrose is loved by the bee
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Salute a te,
bel Kellswater
perchè è qui che i trovano tutti i piaceri della vita
dove si trova da pescare e
da coltivare
e una bella ragazza per moglie.
II
Sui colli, le forre e le valli
cresce la più dolce delle donne, così bella
e i fiori stillano miele
dove vive Marta,
il mio vero amore
III
Bella Marta sei la prima ragazza per cui spasimo
colei che mi ha preso al laccio,
e se mai dovessi perderti per un altro
lascerò il mio Kellswater così bello.
IV
Perchè questo e quello possono farle la corte
ma nessuno me la può togliere
perchè io l’amo come amo il mio Kellswater, come la primula è amata dall’ape

NOTE
1) verso alternativo [or]
The hills and the dales and low valleys,
are all covered with linen so fine,
and the trees are a drooping sweet honey,
and the rocks are all grown over with thyme.

LINK
https://www.revolvy.com/page/Kells-Water
https://www.itma.ie/digital-library/sound/bonny_kells_waters_dan_mcgonigle

Follow me up to Carlow

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The text of “Follow me up to Carlow” was written in the nineteenth century by the Irish poet Patrick Joseph McCall (1861 – 1919) and published in 1899 in the “Erinn Songs” with the title “Marching Song of Feagh MacHugh”.
Referring to the Fiach McHugh O’Byrne clan chief, the song is full of characters and events that span a period of 20 years from 1572 to 1592.

McCall’s intent is to light the minds of the nationalists of his time with even too detailed historical references on a distant epoch, full of fierce opposition to English domination. 16th century Ireland was only partly under English control (the Pale around Dublin) and the power of the clans was still very strong. They were however clans of local importance who changed their covenants according to convenience by fighting each other, against or together with the British. In the Tudor era Ireland was considered a frontier land, still inhabited by exotic barbarians.
front1

FIACH MCHUGH O’BYRNE

The land of the O’Byrne clan was in a strategic position in the county of Wicklow and in particular between the mountains barricaded in strongholds and control posts from which rapid and lethal raids started in the Pale. The clan managed to survive through raids of cattle, rivalries and alliances with the other clans and acts of submission to the British crown, until Fiach assumed the command and took a close opposition to the British government with the open rebellion of 1580 that broke out throughout the Leinster . In the same period the rebellion was reignited also in the South of Munster (known as the second rebellion of Desmond)

The new Lieutenant Arthur Gray baron of Wilton that was sent to quell the rebellion with a large contingent, certainly gave no proof of intelligence: totally unprepared to face the guerrilla tactics, he decided to draw out the O’Byrne clan, marching in the heart of the county of Wicklow, the mountains! Fiach had retired to Ballinacor, in the Glenmalure valley, (the land of the Ranelaghs), and managed to ambush Gray, forcing him to a disastrous retreat to the Pale.

glenmalure

Follow me up to Carlow

The melody was taken from McCall himself by “The Firebrand of the Mountains,” a march from the O’Byrne clan heard in 1887 during a musical evening in Wexford County. It is not clear, however, if this historical memory was a reconstruction in retrospect to give a touch of color! It is very similar to the jig “Sweets of May” (first two parts) and also it is a dance codified by the Gaelic League.

“Follow me up to Carlow” (also sung as “Follow me down to Carlow”) was taken over by Christy Moore in the 1960s and re-proposed and popularized with the Irish group Planxty; recently he is played by many celtic-rock bands or “barbarian” formations with bagpipes and drums.

Planxty

Fine Crowd

The High Kings live

FOLLOW ME UP TO CARLOW
I
Lift Mac Cahir Óg(1) your face,
broodin’ o’er the old disgrace
That Black Fitzwilliam(2) stormed your place,
and drove you to the Fern(3)
Gray(4) said victory was sure,
soon the firebrand(5) he’d secure
Until he met at Glenmalure(6)
with Fiach McHugh O’Byrne
CHORUS
Curse and swear, Lord Kildare(7),
Fiach(8) will do what Fiach will dare
Now Fitzwilliam have a care,
fallen is your star low(9)
Up with halberd, out with sword,
on we go for, by the Lord
Fiach McHugh has given the word
“Follow me up to Carlow!”(10)
II
See the swords at Glen Imaal (11),
flashin’ o’er the English Pale(12)
See all the children of the Gael,
beneath O’Byrne’s banner
Rooster of a fighting stock,
would you let a Saxon cock
Crow out upon an Irish Rock,
fly up and teach him manners.
III
From Tassagart (11) to Clonmore (11),
flows a stream of Saxon gore
How great is Rory Óg O’More(13)
at sending loons to Hades
White(14) is sick, Gray(15) is fled,
now for Black Fitzwilliam’s head
We’ll send it over, dripping red,
to Liza(16) and her ladies
II
See the swords at Glen Imaal (11),
flashin’ o’er the English Pale(12)
See all the children of the Gael,
beneath O’Byrne’s banner
Rooster of a fighting stock,
would you let a Saxon cock
Crow out upon an Irish Rock,
fly up and teach him manners.
III
From Tassagart (11) to Clonmore (11),
flows a stream of Saxon gore
How great is Rory Óg O’More(13)
at sending loons to Hades
White(14) is sick, Gray(15) is fled,
now for Black Fitzwilliam’s head
We’ll send it over, dripping red,
to Liza(16) and her ladies

NOTES
1) Brian MacCahir Cavanagh married Elinor sister of Feagh MacHugh. In 1572 Fiach and Brian were implicated in the murder of a landowner related to Sir Nicholas White Seneschal (military governor) of the Queen at Wexford.
2) William Fitzwilliam “Lord Deputy” of Ireland, the representative of the English Crown who left office in 1575
3) In 1572 Brian MacCahir and his family were deprived of their properties donated to supporters of the British crown
4) Arthur Gray de Wilton became in 1580 new Lieutenant of Ireland
5) appellation with which he was called Feach MacHugh O’Byrne
6) Glenmalure Valley: valley in the Wicklow mountains about twenty kilometers east of the town of Wicklow, where the battle of 1580 occurred that saw the defeat of the English: the Irish clans ambushed the English army commanded by Arthur Wilton Gray made up of 3000 men
7) In 1594 the sons of Feach attacked and burned the house of Pierce Fitzgerald sheriff of Kildare, as a result Feach was proclaimed a traitor and he become a wanted crimunal
8) Feach in Irish means Raven
9) William Fitzwilliam returned to Ireland in 1588 once again with the title of Lieutenant, but in 1592 he was accused of corruption
10) Carlow is both a city and a county: the town was chosen more to rhyme than to recall a battle that actually took place: it is more generally an exhortation to take up arms against the British. Undoubtedly, the song made her famous.
11) Glen Imael, Tassagart and Clonmore are strongholds in Wicklow County
12) English Pale are the counties around Dublin controlled by the British. The phrase “Beyond the Pale” meant a dangerous place
13) Rory the young son of Rory O’More, brother of Feagh MacHugh, killed in 1578
14) Sir Nicholas White Seneschal of Wexford fell seriously ill in the early 1590s, shortly thereafter fell into disgrace with the Queen and was executed.
15) in the original version the character referred to is Sir Ralph Lane but is more commonly replaced by Arthur Gray who had left the country in 1582
16) Elizabeth I. Actually it was Feach’s head to be sent to the queen!
The new viceroy Sir William Russell managed to capture Fiach McHugh O’Byrne in May 1597, Feach’s head remained impaled on the gates of Dublin Castle.

LINKS
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=52454&page=2
http://thesession.org/tunes/1583
http://thesession.org/tunes/10645
http://www.irishmusicdaily.com/follow-me-up-to-carlow
http://www.clannobyrne.com/glenmalure.html
http://neverfeltbetter.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/irelands-wars-the-battle-of-glenmalure/
http://www.blogofmanly.com/2012/09/17/heroes-feach-mchugh-obyrne/
http://www.doyle.com.au/chiefs.html