“Amhrán Mhuighinse” is an irish farewell from the death bed; it is a traditional Irish gaelic sean-nós lament in which the singer has become old and, waiting for the day of his death, asks to be buried next to his/her beloved ones.
Often the singer is an old woman, who has moved away from her family home to follow her husband, but who considers stronger the bond with her clan and wants to go home.
Usually for this type of song, the composer is known and “Amhrán Mhuighinse” was attributed to a woman who lived in the nineteenth century, Máire (Mairín) Ní Chlochartaigh. She was married to Taimín Bán Ó Conghaile of Leitir Calaidh but she asked to be buried in Mhuighinse where she was from (Mainis or Mweenish Island near Carna, County Galway).
But the weather was so bad for three days after her death that it wasn’t possible to make the boat trip to Muighinis and she was buried in Leitir Calaidh instead.
|THE SONG OF MAÍNIS *
If I were three leagues out at sea
or on mountains far from home,
Without any living thing near me
but the green fern and the heather,
The snow being blown down on me,
and the wind carring it away,
And I were to be talking to my Taimín Bán (1)
and I would not find the night long.
Dear Virgin Mary, what will I do,
this winter is coming on cold.
And, dear Virgin Mary, what will this house do and all that are in it?
Were you not young, my dear, when you went away during the good times, when the cuckoo sang its song and all the every green leaf was growing?
If I have my children home with me
the night that I will die,
They will wake me in mighty style
three nights and three days;
There will be fine clay pipes
and well-filled kegs (2),/ And there will be three mountainy women to keen (3) me when I’m laid out (4).
And cut my coffin out for me,
from the choicest brightest boards;
And if Seán Hynes (5) is in Mweenish (6) Have it made by his hand./Let my cap and my ribbon be inside in it (7), and be placed stylishly on my head,/ And Big Paudeen will take me to Mweenish/Or the day will go wrong (8).
As I’m going west past Sandy Isle (9),
let the flag be on the mast (10).
don’t bury me in Leitir Calaidh (11),
for it’s not where my people are,
But bring me west to Mweenish
to the place where I will be mourned aloud;
There’ll be light on the sandhills,
and I will not be lonely there.
Dhá mbeinn trí léig i bhfarraige
nó ar sléibhte i bhfad ó thír
Gan aoinneach beo i mo ghaobhar ann ach raithneach ghlas is fraoch,
An sneachta á shéideadh anuas orm, is an ghaoith dhá fhuadach díom,
‘S mé a bheith ag comhrá le mo Taimín Bán,
níorbh fhada liom an oíche.
A Mhuire dhílis, céard a dhéanfas mé, tá an geimhreadh seo ‘tíocht fuar,
A Mhuire dhílis, céard a dhéanfas an teach seo is a bhfuil ann?
Nach óg, a stór, a d’imigh tú, le linn na huaire breá,
Le linn don chuach bheith ag seinm ceoil,
gach duilliúr glas ag fás.
Má bhíonn mo chlann sa mbaile a’am an oíche a bhfaighidh mé bás,
Ó tórróidh siad go groíúil mé trí oíche is trí lá;
Beidh píopaí deasa cailce a’am agus ceaigeannaí is iad lán,
Beidh triúr ban óg ó shléibhte ann le mé a chaoineadh os cionn cláir.
Is gearraí amach mo chónra dhom as fíorscoth geal na gclár,
Má tá Seán Ó hEidhin i Muighnis bíodh sé déanta ón a láimh;
Bíodh mo chaipín is mo ribín inti istigh, é go rídheas ar mo cheann,
Tabharfadh Paidín Mór go Muighnis mé nó is garbh a bhéas an lá.
Gabháil siar thar Inse Gaine dhom bíodh an bhratach insa gcrann,
Ná cuir’ i Leitir Caladh mé mar ní ann atá mo dhream;
Ach tugaí siar go Muighnis mé
‘n áit a gcaoinfear mé go hard,
Beidh soilse ar na dúmhchannaí – ní bheidh uaigneas orm ann.
* see link for transaltion references
1) the Taimín Bán mentioned in the song doesnt translate as ‘fair Taimín’ but as his actual name, Taimín Bán Ó Conghaile.
2) The Irish wake takes place with food, drink (especially the poteen and irish whiskey), pipe smoking, music and singing, dancing and games
3) The keener is usually paid for her services-the charge varying from a crown to a pound, according to the circumstances of the employer.
4) The corpse was placed on a table in plain sight (in the living room or at least in the best room of the house) making sure that a group of visitors was always ready to surround the body to prevent the evil spirits to take the soul
5) Mweenish was well known for the building of traditional sailing boats, Galway Hookers.
6) Maínis or Mweenish is an island off the Conamara coast in the heart of the Conamara Gaeltacht. The island is close to Carna and linked to the mainland by a bridge. It is noted for its isolation and rugged beauty
7) the corpse was placed in the coffin with the objects that the deceased had with him at the time of death or with the objects he had most dear to prevent his spirit returning to look for them
8) Groíúil is the Conamara version of the standard croíúil -meaning: decent, welcoming, hearty, cordial.
Tabharfadh Paidín Mór go Muínis mé nó is garbh a bhéas an lá. – I think that’s a reference to the sea. Páidín would bring me to Muínis if the weather isn’t bad. Garbh = rough/windy. Which is what happened to her. They tried for three days but the weather wouldn’t let up. So she got buried in Leitir Caladh. (noted by Brighid)
9) Inse Gaine, or Sand Island
10) according to Séamus Ó Dúbháin (from Ard Mór, Cill Chiaráin) the flag was one which he used to wave at boats passing by her home in Leitir Calaidh
11) Lettermore island is in two halves. The eastern half is known as Lettermore, while the western half is known as Lettercallow (Leitir Calaidh, “rough hillside by a marshy area”).