The Secret of Roan Inish

Cinematic transposition of the novel “Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry” by Rosalie K. Fry (1959) it tells of a blood bond between a family community of the island and the selkies. The version of the film is fairly faithful to the novel, but it transposes the story from the islands of Scotland to Ireland, both countries that still retain the same legendary tales about aquatic shapeshifters. (first part)
Trasposizione cinematografica del romanzo “Il segreto di Ron Mor Skerry” di Rosalie K. Fry (1959) si racconta di un legame di sangue tra una comunità familiare dell’isola e le selkie. La versione del film è abbastanza fedele al romanzo, ma traspone la storia dalle isole della Scozia all’Irlanda, paesi che conservano ancora le stesse storie leggendarie sui mutaforma acquatici.
(prima parte)

Selkie Song (An Mhaighdean Mhara)

The soundtrack curated by Mason Daring combines traditional pieces with compositions by the author, in particular “Selkie Song” is taken from a traditional Donegal song in Gaelic entitled “An Mhaighdean Mhara“.
La colonna sonora a cura di Mason Daring accosta brani tradizionali a composizioni dell’autore, in particolare Selkie Song è tratto da un tradizionale del Donegal dal titolo in gaelico “An Mhaighdean Mhara“.

Eileen Loughanne -Selkie Song 1994

I
Is cosuil gura bheath tu, No do rugadh tu an gcrann.
Ta an sneachta go freasach Fa a bhialainn ann.
Do shiuil bi deitil (1), Is do bhealain samh,
Suid thugaibh mEire chinnle (2), Is e an Eire naomh (3).
II
Mathairin mhilis, A duirt Maire Bhain,
Ar bharr na dtoinnti, Is ar bhruach na tra.
Mathair an bharr, Mo mhathair in ard,
Suid thugaibh mEire chinnle, Is e an Eire naomh.
III
Taimse tuirseach, Agus beidh go neal,
Mo bha ar a bhruinne, Is mo phadraic ban.
Ar bharr na dtoinnti, Is ar bhruach na tra,
Suid thugaibh mEire chinnle, Is e an Eire naomh.
English translation*
I
It seems that you have faded away
and abandoned the love of life
The snow is spread
about the mouth of the sea 
Your yellow curly hair
and your gentle mouth,
I give you Mary Kenny (2),
to swim in the Éirne (3)
II
“Sweet Mother” – said blonde Mary
On the crest of the waves,
And the opening of the strand
Maid of the Sea
my mother, my pride”
I give you Mary Kenny,
to swim in the Éirne
III
I am weary now
And soon it will be
my fair maiden
and my pale Pádraig
On the crest of the waves,
And the opening of the strand
I give you Mary Kenny,
to swim in the Éirne
Traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
I
Sembra che ti strugga
e abbia perso il buon umore.
La neve si accumula
all’imboccatura del mare
i tuoi riccioli biondi
e la tua dolce boccuccia
ecco Mary Kenny
che nuota nell’oceano

II
“Cara Madre -grida la bionda Maria
sulla cresta delle onde
e l’imboccatura della spiaggia-
Fanciulla del mare
mia nobile madre”
ecco Mary Kenny
che nuota nell’oceano

III
Sono stanca 
e presto accadrà
la mia bella bambina
e il mio biondo Patrick
sulla cresta delle onde
e l’imboccatura della spiaggia
ecco Mary Kenny
che nuota nell’oceano

NOTE
1) Do chúl buí daite= Your fair hair
2) la frase è una storpiatura di “Siúd chugaibh Máirí Chinidh”, Mary Cinidh= Mary Heaney or Kinney is the merrow or selkie
3) ‘s í ‘ndiaidh ‘n Éirne ‘shnámh= to swim forever in the Éirne; ) Eirne is an old word for the Atlantic [è una vecchia parola per l’Atlantico]

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/sule-skerry.htm
https://thesession.org/recordings/4322

Amhrán Na Farraige (Song of the Sea)

“Song of the Sea” (La canzone del Mare) è un film d’animazione del regista irlandese Tomm Moore uscito nel 2014 (per la Cartoon Saloon), seguito nell’anno successivo dalla versione in gaelico irlandese e distribuito nelle sale italiane solo nel 2016.
E’ la storia di Ben e della sorellina Saoirse che vivono su un isola nel Mare d’Irlanda. La loro madre era una selkie e toccherà alla sorellina nata muta a portare il fardello della sua eredità e in particolare la lotta contro Macha e i suoi gufi. (Nel film Macha è la stega-gufo madre di MacLir il dio del Mare trasformato in pietra.)
La musica del film è di Bruno Coulais e del gruppo irlandese Kila.

Moore ha scelto di narrare una storia di formazione molto più complessa di ciò che potrebbe sembrare in apparenza, numerosi sono infatti i richiami a letteratura, mitologia celtica, storia della
religione e del folklore, psicologia evolutiva, il tutto sapientemente dosato, in una narrazione delicata e per nulla banale.
La scelta più importante è quella di un’animazione 2D in stile vintage, sulla scia del grande Hayaho Miyazaki, forse il più famoso fumettista e regista di animazione giapponese, unita ad un occhio a Van Gogh e Pollock.
La poetica di Miyazaki è infatti basata sul rispetto per la natura, le memorie, il mondo onirico dei bambini e la loro purezza, “Anime eredi della memoria storica delle generazioni precedenti”, che vede con immenso affetto e che mette al centro di tutti i suoi lavori. Allo stesso modo, il pool di venti disegnatori europei, crea un mondo evocativo e fantastico, pregno di una luce umida che
avvolge il cielo e i colori di una magica Irlanda (Sarah Nussenblatt scheda del film qui)

[“Song of the Sea” is an animated film by the Irish director Tomm Moore released in 2014 (for the Cartoon Saloon), followed in the following year by the Irish Gaelic version and distributed in Italian theaters only in the 2016.
It’s the story of Ben and his mute little sister Saoirse living on an island in the Irish Sea. Their mother was a selkie and her daughter will carry the burden of her inheritance and in particular the fight against Macha and her owls. (In the film Macha is the Owl Witch, mother of MacLir, the god of the Sea turned into stone.)
The music of the film is by Bruno Coulais and the Irish group Kila]

Nella canzone si descrivono luoghi e tempi liminari, veri e propri ingressi dell’Altro Mondo e ai Miti d’Irlanda

[The song describes liminal places and times, real entrances of the Other World, recalling the myths of Ireland ]


I
Between the here,
between the now
between the North,
Between the South
between the West,
between the East
between the time,
between the place
Chorus
From the shell
the Song of the Sea
neither quiet nor calm
searching for love again
Mo ghrá
II
Between the winds,
between the waves
between the sands,
between the shores
III
Between the stones,
between the storms
between belief,
between the seas
Tá mé i dtiúin
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Fra il qui
e l’ora
fra il nord
e il sud
fra l’ovest
e l’est
al tempo
e luogo (1)
Chorus
Dalla conchiglia (2),
la canzone del mare,
per niente calma e serena,
di nuovo alla ricerca d’amore

amore mio
II
Fra i venti
e le onde
fra le sabbie
e le coste
III
Fra gli scogli
e le burrasche
fra la fede
e il mare
Sono connessa (3)


NOTE
1) ho preferito tradurre con un espressione “at the proper time and place”
2) è la conchiglia che trova Seoirse nella notte di Halloween del suo sesto compleanno, la conchiglia che la madre aveva regalato a Ben custodita gelosamente nel suo armadio; nella conchiglia si sente cantare il mare e la bimba trova il mantello di foca della madre. E’ in questo momento che inizia la fiaba e la magia
3) nel senso mi sento bene, sono in sintonia

Amhrán Na Farraige

Idir ann is idir as
Idir thuaidh is idir theas
Idir thiar is idir thoir
Idir am is idir áit
Casann sí dhom
Amhrán na farraige
Suaimhneach nó ciúin
Ag cuardú go damanta
Mo ghrá
Idir gaoth is idir tonn
Idir tuilleadh is idir gann
Casann sí dhom
Amhrán na Farraige
Suaimhneach nó ciúin
Ag cuardú go damanta
Idir cósta, idir cléibh
Idir mé is idir mé féin
Tá mé i dtiúin


I
Between in,
between out
between the North,
Between the South
between the West,
between the East
between time,
between space
Chorus
She sings to me

the Song of the Sea
quiet and calm
Searching fiercely for
my love
II
Between the wind,
between the wave
Between More
Between Scarce

III
Between coast,
between chest (1)
between me,
between myself
I am in tune
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Fra il dentro
e il fuori
fra il nord
e il sud
fra l’ovest
e l’est
tra il tempo
e lo spazio
Coro
(il mare) mi canta
la sua canzone,
calma e serena,
alla valorosa ricerca

dell’amore mio
II
Fra i venti
e le onde
fra il più
e il meno
III
Fra la costa
e il cuore
fra me
e me
Sono connessa

NOTE
1) cheast nel senso di gabbia toracica e quindi “heart”

Saoirse Song

LINK
http://dilloconunciak.altervista.org/la-canzone-del-mare/
http://www.bestmovie.it/news/song-of-the-sea-la-nostra-recensione-del-meraviglioso-cartoon-irlandese/481389/

The Grey Selkie

Leggi in italiano

The best known of the ballads of the Orkney Islands, also as The Gray Silkie of Sule Skerry, tells of a selkie living on the rocky cliff of Sule. The ballad was collected by professor Child  ( # 113).

The legend says that to reproduce the selkie-male must be in human form and transmit his power to descendants: when his child is weaned on dry land, the selkie will return from the sea.

TRADITIONAL VERSION: The Gray Silkie

From Sailormen & Servingmaids 1961, a songs collection on field recordings from England, Scotland and Ireland with John Sinclair of the Fleet island, (melody collected in 1938 by Otto Anderson and transcribed in notation with text by Annie G. Gilchrist.)

John G. Halcro 
in Orkney, Land, Sea & Community, Scottish Tradition vol 21, recordings from the archives of the Scottish School of Studies of the University of Edinburgh (fragment recorded in 1973): “A brief version of it appears as no. 113 in Child without a tune, but this is no match for the variant which old John Sinclair of Flotta in the Orkney Isles turned up with in January 1934. He has since been visited by Swedish folklorists [i.e. Otto Andersson] and recorded for the BBC. Bronson remarks that his tune is a variant of the air often associated with Hind Horn, another ballad of traffic between spirits and mortals. Sinclair (who learned the song from his mother), worked all his life as a seaman, and a farmer-fisherman until his retirement. He now lives in a cottage by the sea where Silkies perhaps may still appear.”

Alison McMorland in Rowan in the Rock 2001

Jean Redpath 1975

June Tabor from Ashore 2011

I
In Norway’s Land there lived a maid
“Hush ba-loo-lilly”. this maid began,
“I know not where my babe’s father is
Whether by land or sea does he travel in”
II
It happened on a certain day
When this fair lady fell fast asleep
That in came a good grey silkie
And set him down at her bed feet
III
Saying, “Awak’, awak’, my pretty fair maid,
For oh, how sound as thou dost sleep,
And I’ll tell thee where thy babe’s father is,
He’s sitting close at thy bed feet.”
IV
“I pray thee tell to me thy name,
Oh, tell me where does thy dwelling be?”
“My name is good Hill Marliner,
And I earn my living oot o’er the sea.
V
I am a man upon the land,
I am a silkie in the sea,
And when I’m far from every strand
My dwelling it’s in Sule Skerry”
VI
“Alas, alas, that’s woeful fate,
That’s weary fate that’s been laid on me,
That a man should come from the West o’ Hoy
To the Norway Lands to have a bairn wi’ me.”
VII (1)
“My dear, I’ll wed thee with a ring,
With a ring, my dear, will I wed with thee.”
“Thee may go to thee weddings with whom thou wilt,
For I’m sure thou never will wed wi’ me.”
VIII
She has nursed his little wee son
For seven long years upon her knee
And at the end of seven long years
He came back with gowd and white monie (2)
IX
For she has got the gunner good
And a gay good gunner it was he,
He gaed oot on a May morning
And he shot the son and the grey silkie.
X
“Alas, alas, that’s woeful fate,
That’s weary fate that’s been laid on me.”
And eenst or twice she sobbed and sighed
And her tender hairt did break in three.(3)

NOTES
1) she asks silkie to marry her, but he refuses, telling her that she will marry another.
2) silkie pays the Norse tribute for his child
3) in another version, however, the woman decides to follow selkie and son throwing herself into the sea to prevent the prophecy from coming true

But the most widespread melody that became standard it is that of the American James Waters  (see first part)

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/sule-skerry.htm

https://terreceltiche.altervista.org/the-great-selkie-of-sule-skerry/
https://mainlynorfolk.info/steeleye.span/songs/greatsilkieofsuleskerry.html
https://www.scotslanguage.com/articles/view/id/4882

The Grey Silkie of Sule Skerry

Leggi in italiano

5494853578_b8a653b169Selkie / silkie / Selchie are the dialectal terms with which in Scotland and Ireland the shapeshifting creatures of sea are called; derive from selich, the Scottish archaic word for  gray seal of the oceans and the Atlantic seas: they are guardians of the sea, seal in the sea and man on earth.

ALL ABOUT SELKIE see here

The power of shapeshifters seems to be contained in their mantle (seal skin), selkies can no longer transform themselves without it and are forced to remain human. This condition is understood in a negative way, a sign of a lack or deprivation, as if the skins of Selkie there were also their soul.
Some researchers wanted to see the origin of the legend in the Finfolk, ( probably the Sami people) Scandinavian men who arrived on the islands and on the coast of Scotland aboard their leather kayaks, while gradually they were advancing at sea their canoe had absorbed water and  sank until only part of their trunk it could be seen.

Both male and female, they are described in their human form as beautiful creatures (long hair and big dark eyes, agile limbs), docile but at the same time endowed with seductive power. The legend says that to reproduce a selkie-male must be in human form and transmit his power to descendants: when his child is weaned on dry land, the selkie will return from the sea. Once when the infant mortality rate was very high, only children over the age of seventh could be considered out of danger and it was at the end of the seventh year that the selkie returned to take his child.
Selkie males were invoked by girls in search of lovers, pouring seven tears in the tide, while sailors were attracted to the female selkie who tried to take as their brides.

Selkie by Maryanne Gobble

THE GREAT SELKIE OF SULE SKERRY

The best known of the Orkney ballads, also known as The Gray Silkie of Sule Skerry, it tells of a selkie living on the rocky cliff of Sule. Skerry derives from the Norse “sker” which means rock in the sea .
The ballad was also collected by professor Child ( # 113).

tumblr_loialeB04U1r04h5zo1_500A young girl has a child from an unknown man who turns out to be a selkie: man on earth, seal at sea whose dwelling is the rocks of Sule. After seven years the sea creature returns to claim his son, giving him a chain of gold, and the mother lets him go.
She after some time gets married with a hunter who trades with animal skins. One day he returns home with the skins of two seals he had killed to give them to his wife: one was of an old gray seal, the other of a young seal with a golden chain around his neck! She dies, overwhelmed by the pain of this vision: her heart breaks or she chooses to follow selkie and son throwing herself into the sea to prevent the prophecy from coming true.

SELKIE PROPHECY

The enchantment of the story lies in particular in the narrative choice: the story is often described as in a nocturnal dream in which a man who claims to be silkie and father of the child, appears almost magically and, next to the cradle of the newborn as in fairy godmothers of fairy tales, he traces child’s destiny.

TWO TUNES

A first melody, which was shot in the folk revival of the 70s, it was written by the American James Waters in 1954 (popularized by Joan Baez); another melody is instead traditional and it was collected in 1938 by Otto Anderson from the voice of John Sinclair of the island of Flotta and transcribed in notation.

JAMES WATERS TUNE

A funeral lament in a lullaby form.

Castelbar  (I, II, IV, V, III, VI, VII, I)

Very intense version of Steeleye Span from Cogs, Wheels and Lovers, 2009, Maddy Prior and Peter Knight

Cécile Corbel ( I, II, IV as refrain, III, V, VI)

Seriouskitchen (Nick Hennessey, Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer ) live: magic instruments, beautiful voices, intense expressiveness

I
An earthly nurse (1) sits and sings,
And aye, she sings by lily wean,
“And little ken (2) I my bairn (3)’s father,
Far less the land where he dwells in.
II
For he came one night to her bed feet (4),/And a grumbly (5) guest, I’m sure was he,/Saying, “Here am I, thy bairn’s father,/Although I be not comely.”
III
He had ta’en a purse of gold/And he had placed it upon her knee/ Saying, “Give to me my little young son,/And take thee up thy nurse’s fee.”
IV
“I am a man upon the land,
I am a silkie on the sea,
And when I’m far and far frae land,
My home it is in Sule Skerrie.”
V
“And it shall come to pass on a summer’s day,/When the sun shines bright on every stane,/I’ll come and fetch my little young son,/And teach him how to swim the faem.”
VI
“Ye shall marry a gunner good/And a right fine gunner I’m sure he’ll be,/And the very first shot that e’er he shoots/Will kill both my young son and me.”
VII
“Alas! Alas! this woeful fate!
This weary fate that’s been laid for me!”/And once or twice she sobbed and sighed/and she joint to a sun and grey silkie (6)

NOTES
1) nourris = nurse
2) ken = know
3) bairn = child
4) bed fit = foot of the bed
5) grumly = strange, scary but also sad
6) or: And her tender heart did break in three

Angelo Branduardi in Il Rovo e la Rosa 2013
Lyrics: Luisa Zappa
Tune: James Waters

traditional tune

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/sule-skerry.htm
http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/selkiefolk/sulesk.htm
http://thawinedarksea.blogspot.it/2010/04/selkie-pallawah-skin.html
http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/finfolk/index.html
https://japanesemythology.wordpress.com/study-notes-investigating-sealkins-selkies-and-sea-goddess-folklore/
https://mainlynorfolk.info/steeleye.span/songs/greatsilkieofsuleskerry.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=31375
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/ch113.htm
http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/recordings–info-113-great-silkie-of-sule-skerry.aspx
http://bestoflegends.org/fairy/selchies.html
http://fiabesca.blogspot.it/2013/06/acque-settentrionali-le-storie-della.html

Aileen Duinn, Brown-haired Alan

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“Aileen Duinn” is a Scottish Gaelic song from the Hebrides: a widow/sweetheart lament for the sinking of a fishing boat, originally a waulking song in which she invokes her death to share the same seaweed bed with her lover, Alan.
According to the tradition on the island of Lewis Annie Campbell wrote the song in despair over the death of her sweetheart Alan Morrison, a ship captain who in the spring of 1788 left Stornoway to go to Scalpay where he was supposed to marry his Annie, but the ship ran into a storm and the entire crew was shipwrecked and drowned: she too will die a few months later, shocked by grief. His body was found on the beach, near the spot where the sea had returned the body of Ailein Duinn (black-haired Alan).

 The song became famous because inserted into the soundtrack of the film Rob Roy and masterfully interpreted by Karen Matheson (the singer of the Scottish group Capercaillie who appears in the role of a commoner and sings it near the fire)

Here is the soundtrack of the film Rob Roy: Ailein Duinn and Morag’s Lament, (arranged by Capercaillie & Carter Burwelle) in which the second track is the opening verse followed by the chorus

FIRST VERSION

The text is reduced to a minimum, more evocative than explanatory of a tragic event that it was to be known to all the inhabitants of the island. The woman who sings is marked by immense pain, because her black-haired Alain is drowned at the bottom of the sea, and she wants to share his sleep in the abyss by a macabre blood covenant.

Capercaillie from To the Moon – 1995: Keren Matheson, the voice ‘kissed by God’ switches from the whisper to the cry, in the crashing waves blanding into bagpipes lament.

Meav, from Meav 2000 angelic voice, harp and flute

Annwn from Aeon – 2009 German group founded in 2006 of Folk Mystic; their interpretation is very intense even in the rarefaction of the arrangement, with the limpid and warm voice of Sabine Hornung, the melody carried by the harp, a few echoes of the flute and the lament of the violin: magnificent.

Trobar De Morte  the text reduced to only two verses and extrapolated from the context lends itself to be read as the love song of a mermaid in the surf of the sea (see also Mermaid’s croon)

It is the most reproduced textual version with the most different musical styles, roughly after 2000, also as sound-track in many video games (for example Medieval II Total War)

english translation
How sorrowful I am
Early in the morning rising
Chorus
Ò hì, I would go (1) with thee
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ ru bhi\,
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ rionn o ho,

Brown-haired Alan, ò hì,
I would go with thee
If it is thy pillow the sand
If it is thy bed the seaweed
If it is the fish thy candles bright
If it is the seals thy watchmen(2)
I would drink(3), though all would abhor it
Of thy heart’s blood after thy drowning
Scottish Gaelic
Gura mise tha fo éislean,
Moch `s a’ mhadainn is mi `g eirigh,
Sèist
O\ hi\ shiu\bhlainn leat,
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ ru bhi\,
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ rionn o ho,
Ailein duinn, o\ hi\
shiu\bhlainn leat.
Ma `s e cluasag dhut a’ ghainneamh,
Ma `s e leabaidh dhut an fheamainn,
Ma `s e `n t-iasg do choinnlean geala,
Ma `s e na ròin do luchd-faire,
Dh’olainn deoch ge boil   le cach e,
De dh’fhuil do choim `s tu `n   deidh dobhathadh,

NOTES
1) to die, to follow
2) for the inhabitants of the Hebrides Islands the seals are not simple animals, but magical creatures called selkie, which at night take the form of drowned men and women. Considered a sort of guardians of the Sea or gardeners of the sea bed every night or only on full moon nights, they would abandon their skins to reveal their human form, to sing and dance on the silver cliffs (here)
3) refers to an ancient Celtic ritual, consisting in drinking the blood of a friend as a sign of affection (the covenant of blood), a custom cited by Shakespeare (still practiced by all the friends of the heart who exchange blood with a shallow cut and joining the two cuts; it was also practiced for the handfasting in Scotland: once the handfasting was above all a pact of blood, in which the right wrist of the spouses was engraved with the tip of a dagger until the blood spurts, after which the two wrists were tied in close contact with each other with the “wedlock’s band” (see more.)

by liga-marta tratto da qui

SECOND VERSION

Here is the version of Marjory Kennedy-Fraser (1857-1930) from “Songs of the Hebrides“, see also Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912) in his “Carmina Gadelica”.

Alison Pearce & Susan Drake from “A Harris love lament”  
Quadriga Consort  from “Ships Ahoy !” 2011  

(english translation Kennet Macleod)
I am the one under sorrow
in the early morn and I arising.
Chorus
Brown-haired Alan

Ò hì, I would go with thee
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ ru bhi\,
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ rionn o ho,

Brown-haired Alan,
 I would go with thee
‘Tis not the death of the kine in May-month
but the wetness of thy winding-sheet./Though mine were a fold of cattle, sure, little my care for them today./Ailein duinn, calf of my heart,
art thou adrift on Erin’s shore?
That not my choice of a stranger-land,
but a place where my cry would reach thee.
Ailein duinn, my spell and my laughter,/would, o King, that I were near thee/on what so bank or creek thou art stranded,
on what so beach the tide has left thee.
I would drink a drink, gainsay it who might,
but not of the glowing wine of Spain
The blood of the thy body, o love,
I would rather,/the blood that comes from thy throat-hollow.
O may God bedew thy soul
with what I got of thy sweet caresses,
with what I got of thy secret-speech
with what I got of thy honey-kisses.
My prayer to thee, o King of the Throne
that I go not in earth nor in linen
That I go not in hole-ground nor hidden-place
but in the tangle where lies my Allan
(scottish gaelic)
Gura mise tha fo éislean,
Moch `s a’ mhadainn is mi `g eirigh
Sèist
Ailein duinn,

O\ hi\ shiu\bhlainn leat,
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ ru bhi\,
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ rionn o ho,
Ailein duinn,
o\ hi\ shiu\bhlainn leat

Cha’n e bàs a’ chruidh ‘s a’ chéitein
Ach a fhichead ‘s tha do leine.
Ged bu leam-sa buaile spréidhe
‘s ann an diugh bu bheag mo spéis dith.
Ailein duinn a laoigh mo chéille
an deach thu air tir an Eirinn?
Cha b’e sid mo rogha céin-thir
ach an t-àit’ an ruigeadh m’ éigh thu.
Ailein duinn mo ghis ‘s mo ghàire
‘s truagh, a Righ, nach mi bha làmh riut.
Ge b’e eilb no òb an tràigh thu
ge b’e tiurr am fàg an làn thu.
Dh’ òlainn deoch ge b’ oil le càch e,
cha b’ ann a dh’ fhion dearg na Spàinne.
Fuil do chuim, a ghraidh, a b’ fhearr leam,
an fhuil tha nuas o lag do bhràghad.
O gu’n drùchdadh Dia air t’ anam
na fhuair mi de d’ bhrìodal tairis.
Na fhuair mi de d’ chòmhradh falaich,
na fhuair mi de d’ phògan meala.
M’ achan-sa, a Righ na Cathrach,
gun mi dhol an ùir no ‘n anart
an talamh-toll no ‘n àite-falaich
ach ‘s an roc an deachaidh Ailean

Another translation in English with the title “Annie Campbell’s Lament”
Estrange Waters from Songs of the Water, 2016

Chorus
Dark Alan my love,
oh I would follow you

Far beneath the great sea,
deep into the abyss

Dark Alan, oh I would follow you
I
Today my heart swells with sorrow
My lover’s ship sank deep in the ocean
I would follow you..
II
I ache to think of your features
Your white limbs
and shirt ripped and torn asunder
I would follow you..
III
I wish I could be beside you
On whichever rock or shore where you’re sleeping
I would follow you..
IV
Seaweed shall be as our blanket
And we’ll lay our heads on soft beds made of sand
I would follow you..

THIRD VERSION

The most suggestive and dramatic version is that reported by Flora MacNeil who she has learned  from her mother. Born in 1928 on the Isle of Barra, she is a Scottish singer who owns hundreds of songs in Scottish Gaelic. “Traditional songs tended to run in families and I was fortunate that my mother and her family had a great love for the poetry and the music of the old songs. It was natural for them to sing, whatever they were doing at the time or whatever mood they were in. My aunt Mary, in particular, was always ready, at any time I called on her, to drop whatever she was doing, to discuss a song with me, and perhaps, in this way, long forgotten verses would be recollected. So I learned a great many songs at an early age without any conscious effort. As is to be expected on a small island, so many songs deal with the sea, but, of course, many of them may not originally be Barra songs”

A different story from Flora MacNeil’s family: the woman is married to Alain MacLeann who dies in the shipwreck with all the other men of her family: her father and brothers; the woman turns to the seagull that flies high over the sea and sees everything, as a witness of the misfortune; the last verse traces poetic images of a funeral of the sea, with the bed of seaweed, the stars like candles, the murmur of the waves for the music and the seals as guardians.

Flora MacNeil from  a historical record of 1951.


English translation
O na hi hoireann o ho
Hi na hi i ri u hu o
Endless grief the price it cost me
‘Twas neither sheep or cattle
But the load the ship took with her
My father and my three brothers
As if this wasn’t all my burden
The one to whom I gave my hand
MacLean of the fair skin
Who took me from the church on Tuesday(1)
“Little seagull, seagull of the ocean
Where did you leave the fair men?”
“I left them in the island of the sea
Back to back, no longer breathing”
Scottish Gaelic
Sèist:
O na hi hoireann o ho
Hi na hi i ri u hu o
S’ goirt ‘s gur daor a phaigh mi mal dhut
Cha chrodh laoigh ‘s cha chaoraich bhana
Ach an luchd a thaom am bata
Bha m’athair oirre ‘s mo thriuir bhraithrean
Chan e sin gu leir a chraidh mi
Ach am fear a ghlac air laimh mi
Leathanach a’ bhroillich bhainghil
A thug o ‘n chlachan Di-mairt mi
Fhaoileag bheag thu, fhaoileag mhar’ thu
Cait a d’fhag thu na fir gheala
Dh’fhag mi iad ‘san eilean mhara
Cul ri cul is iad gun anail

NOTES
(1) Tuesday is still the day on which traditionally marriages are celebrated on the Island of Barra

FOURTH VERSION

Still a version set just like a waulking song and yet a different text, this time the ship is a whaler and Allen is shipwrecked near the Isle of Man.

Mac-Talla, from Gaol Is Ceol 1994, only the female voices and the notes of a harp, but what immediacy …

English translation
I am tormented/I have no thought for merriment tonight
Brown-haired Allen o hi, I would go with thee.
I have no thought for merriment tonight/But for the sound of the elements and the strength of the gales
Brown-haired Allen o hi,
I would go with thee.

CHORUS
Hi riri riri ri hu o, horan o o, o hi le bho
Duinn o hi, I would go with thee
But for the sound of the elements and the strength of the gales
Which would drive the men from the harbor
Brown-haired Allen, my darling sweetheart
I heard you had gone across the sea
On the slender, black boat of oak
And that you have gone ashore on the Isle of Man
That was not the harbor I would have chosen
Brown-haired Allen, darling of my heart
I was young when I fell in love with you
Tonight my tale is wretched
It’s not a tale of the death of cattle in the bog
But of the wetness of your shirt
And of how you are being torn by whales
Brown-haired Allen, my dear beloved
I heard you had been drowned
Alas, oh God, that I was not beside you
Whatever tide-mark the flood will leave you
I would take a drink, in spite of everyone
Of your heart’s blood,
after you had been drowned
Scottish Gaelic
S gura mise th’air mo sgaradh
Chan eil sugradh nochd air m’aire
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Chaneil sugradh nochd air m’air’
Ach fuaim nan siantan ‘s miad na gaillinn
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Hi riri riri ri hu o, horan o o, o hi le bho
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat~Ailein.
Ach fuaim nan siantan ‘s miad na gaillinn
Dh’fhuadaicheadh na fir bho’n chaladh
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Ailein Duinn a luaidh nan leannan
Chuala mi gun deach thu thairis
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Chuala mi gun deach thu thairis
Air a’ bhata chaol dhubh dharaich
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
‘S gun deach thu air tir am Manainn
Cha b’e siod mo rogha caladh
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Ailein Duinn a luaidh mo cheile
Gura h-og a thug mi speis dhut
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
‘S ann a nochd as truagh mo sgeula
‘S cha n-e bas a’ chruidh ‘san fheithe
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Ach cho fliuch ‘s a tha do leine
Muca mara bhith ‘gad reubach
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Ailein Duinn a chiall ‘s a naire
Chuala mi gun deach do bhathadh
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
‘S truagh a Righ nach mi bha laimh riut
Ge be tiurr an dh’fhag an lan thu
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Dh’olainn deoch, ge b’oil le cach e
A dh’fhuil do chuim ‘s tu ‘n deidh do bhathadh
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat

LINK
http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/murray/ailean.htm
http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/capercaillie/ailein.htm
http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=8239
http://folktrax-archive.org/menus/cassprogs/001scotsgaelic.htm

Christmas in the old man’s hat

poor-boy
Giacomo Ceruti “Mendicante con pezzo di dolce” fine XVII secolo

Composed by Susanne Phillips adapting the traditional melody on the new text, the Christmas song “Christmas in the old man’s hat” takes up again in the refrain a verse of the popular English nursery rhyme “Christmas is coming“.
The song is particularly popular in the Germanic area rather than the Irish one, although it appears for the first time in a Celtic Tradition album released in 1985.
To the child, who is asking herself questions about why Jenny Brown is full of rich (and useless) gifts while poor Peter suffers from cold and hunger, the mother replies that it is not San Nicola’s job to distribute the gifts equally to the children, they are the rich and privileged who should share their well-being with the needy! In fact, social inequalities arise precisely from the greed of those who hold economic power and thrive on the exploitation of workers (and the planet’s resources).
In the face of social injustice we should not expect the miracle !!
Composta da  Susanne Phillips  arrangiando la melodia tradizionale sul nuovo testo, la canzone natalizia “Christmas in the old man’s hat” riprende nel ritornello un verso della popolare filastrocca inglese “Christmas is coming“.
Il brano è diffuso particolarmente in area germanica più che irlandese sebbene compaia per la prima volta in un album dei Celtic Tradition uscito nel 1985.
Alla bambina, che, più grandicella inizia a porsi domande sul perchè Jenny Brown sia piena di ricchi (e inutili) regali mentre il povero Peter soffre il freddo e la fame, la madre risponde che non è compito di San Nicola distribuire equamente i doni ai bambini, sono i ricchi e privilegiati che dovrebbero spartire il loro benessere con i bisognosi! Di fatto le diseguaglianze sociali nascono proprio dall’avidità di coloro che detengono il potere economico e prosperano sullo sfruttamento dei lavoratori (e delle risorse del pianeta).
Di fronte alle ingiustizie sociali non bisogna aspettarsi il miracolo!!

Celtic Tradition in “An Irish Christmas Album“, 1985: the German group (former GDR) in 1985-7 recorded an album of traditional Irish music about Christmas also including “Christmas in the old man’s hat” in which Susanne Phillips is credited as author .
il gruppo tedesco (ex GDR) nel 1985-7 registrò un album di musica tradizionale irlandese sul Natale includendo anche “Christmas in the old man’s hat” in cui si accredita Susanne Phillips come autrice. 

Paul Köninger & Soeren Pietsch live 2015 

Selkie 

Inchtabokatables in “Best of Nine Inch Years”, 2000


I.
“Oh mother dear, one Christmas day
again I must complain
I wonder it is Santa Claus (1)
for Christmas sake again
you see there’s little Jenny Brown
she’s kept so many things
dolls and sweet and teddy bears
clothes and golden rings”
CHORUS
Christmas is coming 
and the goose is getting fat
Hey put a penny in the old man’s hat (2)
light up the fire, 
the wind’s blowing cold
Santa Claus is getting old (3)
II.
“Oh mother, Jenny has so much
but still it’s not enough
but little Peter (4) down the road
got none of all the stuff
he’s cold and hungry can’t you see?
There’s holes in both his shoes
no toys for him, no clothes and sweets
and no Christmas goods”
III.
“Oh child, I understand you now
it seems it is not right
some children live all in the dark
while others’ homes are light
but Santa Claus is not to blame
a-pouring of his load
but Jenny Brown should simply share
with Peter down the road”
traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
“O mamma cara, il giorno di Natale 
devo lamentarmi ancora;
mi chiedo se Babbo Natale
si sia sbagliato di nuovo,
vedi c’è la piccola Jenny Brown,
lei ha così tanti regali,
bambole e dolci e orsacchiotti,
vestiti e anelli d’oro”.
CORO:
Natale è in arrivo
e l’oca è all’ingrasso,
metti un penny nel cappello del vecchio,
accendi il fuoco,
il vento soffia freddo,
Babbo Natale sta diventando vecchio.
II
“Oh mamma Jenny ha troppo
e non è sempre mai abbastanza,
ma il piccolo Peter in fondo alla strada
non ha proprio niente,
è al freddo ed è affamato, non lo vedi?
Ha entrambe le scarpe bucate,
nessun giocattolo per lui, né abiti e dolci
e nessun regalo di Natale.”
III
“Oh bambina, capisco che adesso
non ti sembri giusto
che dei bambini vivano al buio,
mentre le case degli altri sono illuminate!
Però Babbo Natale non è da biasimare
nello scaricare il suo sacco,
invece è Jenny Brown che dovrebbe semplicemente condividere i suoi con Peter”

NOTE
1) Old Nick Americanized in Santa Claus, he had his day on the Advent calendar as of December 6th. A syncretic figure that unites very ancient traditions with those that are “modern”, marked by consumerism, as a bishop has become a funny and fat old man with a white beard dressed in a nice tomato red. As everyone knows, the English Santa Claus (Santa Klaus) is the corruption of the Dutch “Sinter klaas”, for St. Nicholas, landed in the seventeenth century in the United States with immigrants from the Netherlands (when New York was called Nieuw Amsterdam). see more
L’Old Nick della carola “Christmas is coming” americanizzato in Santa Claus, aveva il suo giorno nel calendario dell’Avvento al 6 dicembre. Una figura sincretica che unisce antichissime tradizioni con quelle “moderne” improntate al consumismo, da vescovo è diventato un buffo e grasso vecchietto dalla barba bianca vestito di un bel rosso pomodoro. Come tutti sanno il Babbo Natale inglese (Santa Klaus) è la storpiatura dall’olandese ‘Sinter klaas’, per San Nicola, sbarcato nel XVII secolo negli Stati Uniti con gli immigrati dai Paesi Bassi (quando New York si chiamava Nieuw Amsterdam). continua
2) Already the Celts ate the goose in Samhain and the medieval Christians served it as dish for S. Michael (September 29), in the Regency era the goose ends up on the Christmas table as the main dish of the English Christmas dinner (in addition to roast beef and game), and in Victorian times, the goose recovered its place of honor in the menu, but it was shortly afterwards overcoming by the American (and cheaper) turkey. The roasted goose is still the favorite on the Piedmontese and Lombard Christmas tables, lending itself to sweet and sour preparations with tasty fillings of apples and hazelnuts, or plums and chestnuts!
Già i Celti mangiavano l’oca a Samain e i cristiani medievali la servivano sulla tavola per San Michele (29 settembre), in epoca Regency finisce sulla tavola di Natale come piatto principale della cena natalizia inglese (oltre al roast beef e alla cacciagione), finchè in epoca vittoriana l’oca riebbe il posto d’onore nel menù spodestata poco dopo dall’americano (e più economico) tacchino. L’oca arrosto resta comunque la preferita sulle tavole natalizie dei Piemontesi e Lombarde prestandosi a preparazioni agro-dolci con ripieni saporiti di mele e nocciole, o prugne e castagne !
3) The author insinuates that Santa Claus don’t see clearly, in fact when he was San Nicola he brought presents to poor and needy children
s’insinua che Babbo Natale non ci veda più tanto bene, in effetti quando si chiamava San Nicola portava i regali ai bambini poveri e bisognosi
4) Peter is so poor he doesn’t even have a last name!
Peter è così povero da non avere nemmeno un cognome!

LINK
https://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?lang=it&id=57116

Gruagach-Mhara: Oran mu’n Gruagaich (a song about the Gruagach)

In the Hebrides there are several songs that contain the term “Gruagach“, a sea maiden who could be a selkie or perhaps a mermaid.
Ultimately the Gruagach is another name of the Cailleach, the primeval goddess of creation as it is called in Scotland, whose memory has left a trace in Celtic folklore and speaks of a primordial cult preserved almost unchanged even during the rise of Christianity and practiced above all by women with shamanic powers (see introduction)
Nelle Isole Ebridi si trovano diverse canzoni che contengono il termine Gruagach, una fanciulla del mare che potrebbe essere una selkie o forse una sirena.
La Gruagach è un altro nome della Cailleach, la dea primigenia della creazione come viene chiamata in Scozia, il cui ricordo ha lasciato una traccia nel folklore celtico e ci parla di un culto primordiale conservatosi pressoché immutato anche durante l’affermarsi del Cristianesimo e praticato soprattutto dalle donne con poteri sciamanici (vedi prima parte)

Hill ò ho, Hù ill ò ho – Oran Luadhaidh

I found this text in Scottish Gaelic (although not yet an audio documentation) transcribed with musical line in the “Puirt-A-Beul” by Keith Norman MacDonald (1901) – the second great source for songs in Scottish Gaelic next to the collection of Frances Tolmie: the song is classified as a waulking song titled ORAN MU’N GHRUAGAICH (A SONG ABOUT THE GRUAGACH), or “Hill ò ho, Hù ill ò ho – Oran Luadhaidh”
Ho trovato il testo originario in gaelico scozzese (sebbene non ancora una documentazione audio) trascritto con rigo musicale nel “Puirt-A-Beul” di Keith Norman MacDonald (1901) -la seconda grande fonte per i canti in gaelico scozzese accanto alla raccolta di Frances Tolmie: la canzone è classificata come una waulking song dal titolo ORAN MU’N GHRUAGAICH (A SONG ABOUT THE GRUAGACH), sottotitolata “Hill ò ho, Hù ill ò ho – Oran Luadhaidh” 

The *Gruagach* here is a female.  Although a ‘maid of the sea’, she must not be pictured as the conventional golden-haired nude terminating in a fish’s tail.  The spectator, while searching for sheep, sees a grey-robed maiden sitting on a distant rock.  Raising her head, she stretches herself and assumes the form of the ‘animal without horns’.  Then ‘she went cleaving the sea on every side…towards the spacious region of the bountiful ones’.  Although the literal word ‘seal’ is not used, ‘the hornless animal’ whose form the mermaid took, one may suppose to be a seal.  The ‘grey robe’ of the maiden further points to her seal character, the seal being often described as ‘grey’.  ‘In the superstitious belief of the North,’ says Mr W.T. Dennison in his *Orcadian Sketch-book*, the seal held a far higher place than any of the lower animals, and had the power of assuming human form and faculties …  every true descendent of the Norseman looks upon the seal as a kind of second-cousin in disgrace.” ( Ethel Bassin “The Old Songs of Skye: Frances Tolmie and her Circle”, 1997 )
Così scrive Ethel BassinIl Gruagach qui è una femmina, sebbene sia una “fanciulla del mare” non la si deve immaginare come la solita donna nuda dai capelli biondi con la coda di pesce. Lo spettatore mentre bada alla pecore vede una fanciulla dal mantello grigio seduta su uno scoglio al largo. Nell’alzare la testa si allunga e prende la forma di  “un animale senza le corna”.  Poi “Fendette il mare da ogni lato .. verso l’immensità dell’oceano”. Sebbene non si usi il termine “seal” si suppone che ‘the hornless animal’ dalla coda di sirena potrebbe essere una foca. L’abito grigio è un ulteriore aggiunta alla sua caratteristica di foca grigia, il cui nome è spesso abbreviato in “grey”. ‘Nelle credenze del Nord- scrive  W.T. Dennison nel suo *Orcadian Sketch-book*- la foca occupava un posto privilegiato rispetto ad ogni altro animale inferiore e aveva il potere di assumere sembianze umane.. ogni vero discendete dai Norvegesi considera la foca come una specie di cugino di secondo grado caduto in disgrazia”

John Duncan (1866-1945), “The Kelpie”

Hill ò ho, Hù ill ò ho
‘S mis’ a chunnaic,
Hù ill ò ho
I
An diugh an t-iongnadh,
‘Sa ‘mhadainn mhoich ‘s mi
‘G irraidh chaorach!
Chunnacas Gruagach,
Chuailein chraobhaich
‘S i ‘na suidh air
Sgeir ‘na h-aonar,
Trusgan glas oirr’
Airson aodaich
II
Cha b’ fhad a bha
Sud a’ caochladh,
Thog i ‘ceann ‘s gu’n
D’ rinn i straoinadh,
‘S chaidh i ‘n riochd na
Béisde maoile (1).
III
Sgoltadh i ‘n cuan
Aig gach taobh dhi (2),
Troimh chaol Mhuile,
Troimh chaol Ile,
Troimh chaol Othasaidh
Mhic-a-Fitheadh
Gu tir fharsuinn
Nam fear fialaidh


Hill ò ho, Hù ill ò ho
‘Twas I who beheld
Hù ill ò ho
I
Today the wonder
In the morning early
When seeking sheep
A maiden was seen
Of flowing hair
And she was sitting
On a rock alone
A grey robe on her
For her clothing
II
‘Twas not long
Before that changed
She raised her head
And stretching herself
She took the form of
A hornless brute (1)
III
She clove the sea
Upon each side (2)
Thro’ the Sound of Mull
Thro’ the Sound of Islay
Thro’ the Sound of Oransay
Of MacPhee!
To the wide territory
of the munificent ones
Traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
Hill ò ho, Hù ill ò ho
‘sono io il testimone
Hù ill ò ho
I
Oggi un evento meraviglioso
all’alba
mentre cercavo le pecore
vidi una fanciulla
dai capelli fluenti
che era seduta
su una roccia solitaria
con un manto grigio
come vestito
II
Non ci volle molto
prima che mutasse
alzò la testa
e si allungò
e prese la forma di 
un animale senza le corna
III
Fendeva il mare
con la pinna della coda
dallo stretto di Mull
dallo stretto di Islay
dallo stretto di Oransay
di MacPhee!
all’immensità
dell’oceano

NOTE
Puirt-A-Beul “Mouth-tunes,” or “Songs for Dancing.” By Dr. Keith N. MacDonald
1) in the popular tradition the gruagach is associated with a sacred cow from the sea and with a hollowed-out stones, a supernatural creature originally surely of female gender, guardian of the cattle of a given territory, its shape when it dives into the sea is however shrouded in mystery.
nella tradizione popolare la gruagach è associata ad una vacca sacra giunta dal mare e ad una pietra coppellata, una creatura soprannaturale in origine sicuramente di genere femminile,  guardiana del bestiame di un determinato territorio, la sua forma quando si getta in mare è tuttavia avvolta nel mistero. 
2) probable reference to the typical seal swimming which gives its movement with the short and webbed front legs to form a single “fin”
letteralmente “da ogni lato” probabile riferimento al tipico nuoto della foca che imprime il suo movimento con le zampe corte e palmate anteriori a formare un’unica “pinna”

The Seal-Maiden (Gruagach-Mhara): Ho eel yo

The English version of the previous song is arranged by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser in her “Songs of the Hebrides”. In this context the term “Gruagach” coupled with “mhara” means a sea maiden, a selkie.
La versione in inglese del precedente canto è arrangiata da Marjory Kennedy-Fraser nel suo “Songs of the Hebrides“. In questo contesto il termine “Gruagach” accoppiato a “mhara” è usato nel senso di fanciulla del mare che sta a indicare una selkie
A shepherd has the good fortune to witness the mutation of a black-haired girl: in a moment she wears the gray coat and turns into a seal and throws herself into the sea to swim towards the wild sea. The musical structure is derived from a waulking song, in which the part of the choir is mostly formed by nonsense phrases that are transcribed phonetically.

Un pastore ha la ventura di assistere alla trasformazione di una fanciulla dai capelli neri: in un attimo ella indossa il grigio manto mutandosi in foca e si getta nel mare per nuotare verso il vasto oceano. La struttura musicale è derivata da una waulking song, in cui la parte del coro è formata per lo più da frasi non-sense che vengono trascritte foneticamente.


Early one morning Ho eel yo
stray sheep a seeking Ho eel yo
Great wonder saw I Ho eel yo
fair seal-maiden Ho eel yo
Glossy her dark hair Ho eel yo
Veiling her fair form Ho eel yo
Heel yo heel yo rova ho
lone on sea-rock sat the maiden.
Heel yo heel yo rova ho
Grey her long robe closely clinging
Heel yo heel yo rova ho
When great wonder! Ho eel yo
Suddendly changed she Ho eel yo
Heel yo heel yo rova ho
raised her head she,
stretched she outward
Heel yo heel yo rova ho
Diving seaward Ho eel yo
Smooth seal-headed she Ho eel yo
Out by the teal-tracks Ho eel yo
Cleaving the sea-waves Ho eel yo
Heel yo heel yo rova ho

Through Chaol Mhuille
Through Chaol Ile
Heel yo heel yo rova ho
To the far blue bounteous ocean!
Traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
Al mattino presto
in cerca di una pecora smarrita
vidi con grande stupore
una bella fanciulla-foca.
Lucidi i suoi neri capelli
che coprivano il suo bel corpo,
Heel yo heel yo rova ho
da sola sulla roccia sedeva la fanciulla.
Heel yo heel yo rova ho
Grigia la sua lunga veste aderente,
Heel yo heel yo rova ho
quando oh meraviglia!
All’improvviso lei è cambiata
Heel yo heel yo rova ho
rialzando la testa
si protese in avanti
Heel yo heel yo rova ho
verso il mare
la levigata testa di foca
sulle tracce dell’alzavola
a fendere le onde del mare
Heel yo heel yo rova ho
per l’Isola di Mull,
per l’Isola di Isla
Heel yo heel yo rova ho
verso il lontano oceano meravigliosamente blu!

ORAN MU’N GHRUAGAICH (A SONG ABOUT THE GRUAGACH)

But with the same title, and always in the waulking songs, another song has also been handed down, in which, however, the gruagach is of male gender. Frances Tolmie writes “The subject of this song is the lamentation of a mother over her daughter, who had died in a strange manner when they were staying together at a sheiling in a lonely part of Glen Macaskill- One evening when gathering the cows into the fold, a cow becoming restive, the young woman drove her in with rude words and blows. But the Friend of the Cattle, know as the Gruagach (occasionally assuming the appeareance of a beautiful youth with long golden hair and a wonderfully white bosom) was at that moment, though invisible, standing near, and on his smiting the girl with a rod which always had in his hand, she straightway fell down dead. Her mother was mourning iver her all night, and the Gruagach, leaning against the upper beam of the dwelling, gazed at her till break of day, when he vanished.”
Ma con lo stesso titolo, e sempre nelle waulking song si è tramandata anche un’altra canzone, in cui però il gruagach è di genere maschile. Scrive Frances Tolmie“L’argomento di questa canzone è il lamento di una madre per la figlia,  morta in uno strano modo quando erano insieme ai pascoli in una parte solitaria del Glen Macaskill. Una sera mentre radunavano le mucche nel recinto, la giovane spinse una mucca ritrosa colpendola con male parole. Ma il Protettore del bestiame, noto come il Gruagach (che assume occasionalmente l’apparenza di una bella fanciulla con lunghi capelli dorati e un seno meravigliosamente bianco) si trovava in quel momento, anche se invisibile, in piedi vicino e lei e con un bastone che aveva sempre in mano colpì la ragazza , che cadde immediatamente a terra morta. La madre la pianse per tutta la notte, e il Gruagach, appoggiato alla trave del capanno, la fissò fino allo spuntar del giorno, e poi scomparve

Jo Morrison in “A Waulking Tour of Scotland” 2000

Christine Primrose in “Gun Sireadh, Gun Iarraidh‘ (‘Without Seeking, Without Asking’) 2001 

♪ (Spotify)

I
Chaor-ain nach deàn thu sol us dhomh
E-hò hi ri, rith ibh ò hò
Gus am faic mi fear àrd a bhroill-ich ghil!
E-hò hi ri, rith ibh ò hò, hi rì, hò rionn ò
II
Buachaille luaineach mu bhruachan a’ ghlinne-s’ thu,
Air an d’ fbàs a’ ghruag ‘na clannaoibh air
III
‘S mis a’ bhean bhochd tha gu brònach
‘S mis a’ ghleannan so ‘nam ònar (sonar)
IV
‘S mis a’ bhean bhochd tha gu cràidhteach,
‘S mi ‘gad cbàradh, laoigh do mhàthar.
V
‘S mi gun phiuthar! ‘S mi gun bhràthair.
Rìgh nan dùl! Bi teachd làimh rium


I
O Ember , do you give me light
so that I may behold him
who is of lofty stature and white bosom (1)
II
Swift-footed herdsman (2) on the slopes of the glen, on whose head the hair has grown in curling locks
III
Oh a sorrowful woman am I,
mouring solitary in this glen
IV
Sorely afflicted and in anguish,
laying thee out, thou darling of thy mother
V
Having no sister nor a brother,
King of Nature, be thou near me! (3)
Traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
I
O fiammella, fammi luce
affinchè io possa vederlo
colui che è alto potente e dal petto chiaro
II
Custode del gregge dal rapido piè sui pendii della valle, dal capo su cui crescono capelli lunghi e fluenti
III
Che donna trista sono
piangente sola in questa forra
IV
Tanto afflitta e angosciata
ti sto accanto, caro tesoro di mamma,
V
senza sorella o fratello;
Re della Natura, stammi vicino

NOTE
from the testimony of Effie Ross (Cottar) of Bracadale, Skye 1861
dalla testimonianza di Effie Ross (Cottar) di Bracadale, Skye 1861
1) the mother is alone in the hut of the mountain pasture to watch over the body of the dead daughter because struck by the staff of the gruagach, and looking through the embers of the semi-extinguished fire she invokes the vision
la madre si trova sola nel capanno dell’alpeggio a vegliare il corpo della figlia morta perchè colpita dal bastone del gruagach, e guardando tra la brace del fuoco semi spento ne invoca la visione 
2) the gruagach is a tutelary deity, the protector of the cattle that in the background of history has crushed the life of a young (and inexperienced) girl who went with her mother on the high pastures with the cattle, the girl has abused a cow reluctant to return into the fence for the night and she is killed by the gruagach
il gruagach è il nume tutelare protettore del bestiame che nell’antefatto della storia ha stroncato la vita di una giovane (e inesperta) fanciulla andata con la madre sui pascoli alti con il bestiame, la fanciulla ha maltrattato una mucca riluttante a rientrare nel recinto per la notte ed è punita con la morta dal gruagach 
3) Just as it protects the cattle, the gruagach also protects the shepherds and in particular the children left alone by their mothers to watch over the grazing animals. The mother, though saddened by the death of her only daughter, is not embittered towards the gruagach who has done nothing but act according to his inscrutable divine nature
Così come protegge il bestiame il gruagach protegge anche i pastori e in particolare i bambini lasciati soli dalle madri per sorvegliare gli animali al pascolo. La madre pur addolorata per la morte dell’unica figlia non è amareggiata verso il gruagach che non ha fatto altro che agire secondo la sua natura divina imperscrutabile

LINK
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=51669
http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/cormack/gruagach.htm
http://www.booksfromscotland.com/Authors/Stuart-McHardy
http://www.aniodhlann.org.uk/documents/t1999-157-3d.html?CFID=24022064&CFTOKEN=66534791
http://www.templerecords.co.uk/products/christine-primrose-gun-sireadh-gun-iarraidh
http://pmjohngrant.com/2018/02/ot-2-march-1901-keith-n-macdonald-puirt-a-beul-mouth-tunes-or-songs-for-dancing-mus/

SEA LONGING (AN IONNDRAINN MHARA)

Una melodia tradizionale dalle Isole Ebridi della collezione di Marjory Kennedy-Fraser. Il titolo si traduce in italiano come “Desiderio del mare”: si tratta di una particolare nostalgia del mare, un inappagabile struggimento, tipica delle creature fatate provenienti dal mare. Questo sentimento è un topico della letteratura fantasy richiamata anche dal “padre” del genere: “It is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance else that is in this Earth; and many of the Children of Iluvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen. “(The Silmarillion, Tolkien) Nell’oceano risuona ancora la voce primigenia che ha creato il mondo, la quale attira le creature fatate e in particolare gli Elfi molto sensibili verso la musica, essendo ottimi musicisti. Oltre il Mare ci sono le Terre Imperiture, il Reame Beato (ovvero l’altromondo celtico.)
Nel cuore di tutti gli (elfi) Esuli la nostalgia del Mare era un inguaribile tormento; nell’animo dei Grigi Elfi un’inquietudine latente, che una volta destata non poteva essere più placata.” (Appendice F, A proposito degli Elfi) Così scrive Tolkien descrivendo lo stato d’animo degli Elfi lontani dalla loro Terra Madre; questo “richiamo del mare” è ben presente nella musica celtica delle Isole dalla Scozia.

Il brano non è molto conosciuto, in pratica l’unica versione che si trova in rete è quella raccolta da Marjory Kennedy-Fraser ma molto rielaborata. Possiamo presumere si tratti del canto di una selkie,  costretta a vivere in forma umana. Secondo la leggenda bastava rubare e nascondere la pelle della foca mentre era mutata in fanciulla danzante sugli scogli, la creatura del mare si sarebbe trasformata in una docile e servizievole moglie…

selkie_by_annie_stegg600_450

Una bella versione strumentale quella di Susan Craig Winsberg nel Cd La Belle Dame (1999)
ASCOLTA Susan Craig Winsberg

E per chi piace la musica classica la rielaborazione sinfonica di Sir Granville Bantock

ASCOLTA Lisa Milne (soprano), Sioned Williams (arpa) in Land of Heart’s Desire. Nelle note si legge: “The air was collected by Mrs Kennedy-Fraser and her daughter Patuffa from Anne Monk of Benbecula but the accompaniment is by Sir Granville Bantock. The words are described as ‘an old fragment’ adapted and translated by Kenneth Macleod”

ASCOLTA Kenneth McKellar su Spotify


Sore sea-longing in my heart,
Blue deep Barra waves are calling,
Sore sea-longing in my heart
Glides the sun, but ah! how slowly,
Far away to luring seas!
Sore sea-longing in my heart,
Blue deep Barra waves are calling,
Sore sea-longing in my heart,
Hear’st, O Sun, the roll of waters,
Breaking, calling by yon Isle?
Sore sea-longing in my heart,
Blue deep Barra waves are calling,
Sore sea-longing in my heart.
Sun on high, ere falls the gloamin’,
Heart to heart, thou’lt greet yon waves.
Mary Mother(1), how I yearn,
Blue deep Barra waves are calling,
Mary Mother, how I yearn.
traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
Nostalgia del mare nel cuore
le onde oltremare di Barra chiamano,
Nostalgia del mare nel cuore
sfugge il sole ma oh si piano,
per adescare il mare!
Nostalgia del mare nel cuore
le onde oltremare di Barra chiamano,
Nostalgia del mare nel cuore,
Senti oh Sole le onde del mare, che si frangono e chiamano dalla lontana Isle?
Nostalgia del mare nel cuore
le onde oltremare di Barra chiamano,
Nostalgia del mare nel cuore.
Sole supremo ecco scende il crepuscolo,
cuore contro cuore, andrai a salutare quelle onde,
madre Maria(1), che struggimento,
le onde oltremare di Barra chiamano,
madre Maria, che struggimento!

NOTE
1) probabilmente Bride la dea che veniva chiamata Maria in una sorta di sincretizzazione con la religione cristiana

Viccy Wanliss  composizione strumentale

APPROFONDIMENTO DEL MITO: SCHEDA continua

FONTI
http://www.craigrecords.com/recordings/la-belle-dame/
http://www.poetrynook.com/poem/sea-longing-0
http://inkpot.com/classical/bantocksyms.html

GRUAGACH-MHARA: A GRUAGACH OR A SELKIE?

Sebbene il termine gaelico Gruagach si traduca con “fanciulla“, il Gruagach del folklore scozzese è diventato più simile ad un folletto tipo Brownie che una fanciulla del Mare.

SPIRITO TUTELARE

Khatarine Briggs nel suo “Dizionario di fate, gnomi e folletti” parla dei Gruagach maschi delle Highlands scozzesi paragonandoli ai Brownie, belli e slanciati, elegantemente vestiti di rosso e dotati di capelli biondi, dediti alla sorveglianza del bestiame. La maggior parte però sono brutti e trasandati e come i Brownie aiutano gli uomini nei lavori domestici e agricoli.

Sorta di spirito tutelare della casa e del bestiame la gruagach è considerata un folletto da rabbonire con offerte di latte lasciate nelle coppelle dei massi erratici. Stuart McHardy ritiene tuttavia che la gruagach sia stata una divinità più potente e antica decaduta nel tempo al rango di guardiano. J.A. McCulloch (The religion of the ancient Celts, 1911) had this to say: “Until recently milk was poured on ‘Gruagach stones’ in the Hebrides, as an offering to the Gruagach, a brownie who watched over herds, and who had taken the place of a god”. Evans-Wentz in The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries (1911) also describes the Gruagach, again stressing the link with cattle: “The fairy queen who watches over cows is called Gruagach in the islands, and she is often seen. In pouring libations to her and her fairies, various kinds of stones, usually with hollows in them, are used. In many parts of the Highlands, where the same deity is known, the stone into which women poured the libation is called Leac na Gruagaich, ‘Flag-stone of the Gruagach’. If the libation was omitted in the evening, the best cow in the fold would be found dead in the morning”. (tratto da qui)

LA FANCIULLA DEL MARE

John Gregorson Campbell nel suo “Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland”, 1900 descrive il Gruagach come una fanciulla del mare dai capelli biondi: “A Gruagach haunted the ‘Island House’ (Tigh an Eilein, so called from being at first surrounded with water), the principal residence in the island, from time immemorial till within the present century. She was never called Glaistig, but Gruagach and Gruagach mhara (sea-maid) by the islanders. Tradition represents her as a little woman with long yellow hair, but a sight of her was rarely obtained. She staid in the attics, and the doors of the rooms in which she was heard working were locked at the time. She was heard putting the house in order when strangers were to come, however unexpected otherwise their arrival might be. She pounded the servants when they neglected their work.”

LA DEA DEL MARE

Così nella tradizione la gruagach è associata ad una vacca sacra giunta dal mare e ad una pietra coppellata per le offerte di libagioni (ovvero latte), una creatura soprannaturale in origine sicuramente di genere femminile  guardiana del bestiame di un determinato territorio. Potrebbe essere il ricordo di antichissimi rituali celebrati da sacerdotesse della Dea Madre e in seguito trasformate in creature fatate.

Stuart McHardy prosegue nel suo saggio: ‘Gruagach’ may mean “the long-haired one” and be derived from gruag = a wig, and is a common Gaelic name for a maiden, or a young woman. In A Midsummer Eve’s Dream (1971) Alexander Hope analyses16thC Scots poems by Dunbar. In the poem the Golden Targe Dunbar’s goddesses wear green kirtles under their green mantles and with their long hair hanging loose they are also presented as fairies in their appearance. The belief in a “fairy-cult” which Hope discerns in these and other works is quite clearly a remnant of an earlier pagan religion. .. Gruagach may be related to the Breton words Groac’h or Grac’h, a name given to the Druidesses or Priestesses, who had colleges on the Isle de Sein, off the NW coast of Brittany. These Groac’h were known for being involved in divination, healing and shape-shifting, and P.F.Anson (Fisher Folk Lore, 1965) says of them: “On the intensely Catholic Isle de Sein there used to be the conviction that certain women had what was known as ‘le don de vouer’, i.e. the power of communicating with the Devil or his emissaries, in other words that they were witches. Fishermen alleged that they had seen these women on dark nights launching mysterious boats (bag-sorcérs) to enable them to take part in a witches’ Sabbath or coven known as groach’hed”. (sempre tratto da qui)

Quindi la Gruagach è un altro nome della Cailleach, la dea primigenia della creazione come viene chiamata in Scozia, il cui ricordo ha lasciato una traccia nel folklore celtico e ci parla di un culto primordiale conservatosi pressoché immutato anche durante l’affermarsi del Cristianesimo e praticato soprattutto dalle donne con poteri sciamanici, ben presto demonizzate e declassate al rango di streghe.

La Giumenta Bianca era una delle sembianze di Cailleach, la velata, così come si manifestava la Dea durante l’Inverno la “Vecchia Donna”, lei colpiva con il suo martello la terra e la rendeva dura fino a Imbolc, la festa del risveglio della Primavera.
Questa antichissima Dea Anziana che controlla le forze della natura e plasma la terra con il suo potere ha forse origini lontane dalle Isole Britanniche. Lo storico greco Erodoto nel V° secolo A.C. ci parla di una tribù celtica in Spagna che chiama “Kallaikoi”. L’autore romano Plinio parla del popolo dei Callaeci, tribù da cui deriva il nome Gallaecia (Galizia) e Portus Cale (Portogallo). Il nome Callaeci viene fatto risalire ad “adoratori della Cailleach”. …Numerose sono le leggende [scozzesi] che ci parlano di questa Dea e analizzandole possiamo evidenziare delle caratteristiche ricorrenti: – La Cailleach dà forma alla terra sia in modo volontario che involontario (il suo grembiule carico di pietre ritorna in moltissime leggende celtiche) creando laghi, colline, isole e costruzioni megalitiche. – Una costante associazione con l’acqua attraverso pozzi, laghi e fiumi di cui è spesso guardiana. – L’associazione con la stagione invernale. – La sua mole gigantesca. – La sua antichissima età, essendo fatta risalire a uno dei primi esseri presenti sulla terra. – La sua funzione di guardiana di particolari animali come il cervo e l’airone. – La sua capacità di trasformarsi ed assumere diverse forme come quella di fanciulla, airone e pietra… In Irlanda l’animale sacro alla dea è la mucca. La dea stessa si occupava del suo bestiame e mungeva le sue mucche fatate ricavandone del latte magico che usava per ridare la vita ai morti. La Dea appare quindi sia come signora della morte che della vita. (Claudia Falcone tratto da: ilcerchiodellaluna.it)

Una creatura che si può associare alla Gruagach è il folletto-capra presente sia nel folklore irlandese con il nome di bocánach sia in quello delle Highlands scozzesi con il nome di Glaistig (metà donna e metà capra):  dai lunghi capelli biondi e bellissima nasconde la sua parte inferiore animale sotto una lunga veste verde. Nella sua versione  maligna la fanciulla è una sorta di sirena che attira l’uomo con un canto o una danza e poi si nutre del suo sangue. Al contrario nella sua versione benigna è considerata una protettrici del bestiame e dei pastori, oltre che dei bambini lasciati soli dalle madri per sorvegliare gli animali al pascolo.

La fanciulla del Mare continua

FONTI
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/poor-horse.htm
https://listserv.heanet.ie/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9311&L=celtic-l&D=0&P=13250
http://www.goddessalive.co.uk/index.php/issues-21-25/issue-21/gruagach

The song of the Seals

grey sealFor the Scots of the Hebrides the seals are selkies, half-seal and half-human, guardians of the sea, the fairy people of the underwater kingdom. When they assume the human form, they abandon the skin on the cliffs to sing and dance on dry land; their melodies could not be missing in the popular tradition..
Per gli Scozzesi delle Isole Ebridi le foche sono selkie, creature metà foca e metà uomo, guardiani del mare, il popolo delle fate del regno sottomarino. Quando assumono la forma umana, abbandonano la pelle sulle scogliere per cantare e danzare sulla terra ferma; ovviamente non poteva mancare nella tradizione popolare la testimonianza di questi canti.

THE SILKIE SONG

selkie-songIn 1930 the score of a song “Song to the Seals” (cf “Songs of the Western Isles“) was published in London from music by Sir Granville Bantock and text by Sir Harold Boulton (already author of the hugely popular the Sky Boat Song). I have the impression that this song is linked to An Cadal Trom or comes from the same traditional context as the Hebrides.
Nel 1930 a Londra venne pubblicato lo spartito di una canzone “Song to the Seals” (cf “Songs of the Western Isles“) su musica di Sir Granville Bantock e testo di Sir Harold Boulton (già autore della popolarissima Sky Boat Song). Ho come l’impressione che questa canzone sia collegata a An Cadal Trom o comunque si muova dallo stesso contesto tradizionale delle isole Ebridi.

Who sings is a selkie in the hour of twilight and all the creatures around her stop and fall asleep, caught by the spell of singing.
Chi canta è una selkie nell’ora del crepuscolo e tutte le creature intorno a lei si fermano e si addormentano, presi dalla malia del canto.

Grace Griffith in Siren Song 2015 + The Song of the Water Kelpie 

Jean Redpath


I
A sea maid sings on yonder reef
The spell-bound seals draw near
A lilt that lures beyond belief
Mortals enchanted hear
Chorus
Coir an oir an oir an eer o
Coir an oir an oir an eer o
Coir an oir an oir an ee lalyuran
Coir an oir an eer o
II
The wandering plowman halts his plough
The maid her milking stays
Sheep on hillside, bird on bough
Pause and listen in amaze
III
Was it a dream? Were all asleep?
Or did she cease her lay?
The seals with a splash dive into the deep
The world goes on again
yet lingers the refrain
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
Una fanciulla del mare canta sugli scogli,
le foche incantate le si avvicinano, / una nenia che seduce oltre ogni immaginazione, le creature mortali ascoltano, ammaliate 
CORO
Coir an oir an eer o
Coir an oir an eer o
Coir an oir an oir an ee lalyuran
Coir an oir an eer o
II
Il bracciante stagionale arresta l’aratro
la fanciulla interrompe la mungitura
le pecore sulla collina, l’uccello sul ramo,
si fermano e ascoltano rapiti
III
Era un sogno? Erano tutti assopiti?
Oppure pose fine al canto?
Le foche con un tuffo si gettano negli abissi,
il mondo riprende il suo corso
e ancora indugia il ritornello

The sounds emitted by the seals on the surface are numerous: they seem to roar, sneeze, whistle, blow, but also moans
I suoni che emettono le foche in superficie sono numerosi
: sembrano ruggiti, starnuti, fischi, soffi, ma anche lamenti

Seals also sing underwater, like whales, John blogger of “The Natural Contemplative” writes:” They seem to be a way of communicating with each other over long distances. They are sung by both male and female seals, and each song is unique to the seal who sings it. That means seals can use these songs to identify each other and to find each other in the dark water.”
Le foche cantano anche sott’acqua, come le balene, Così scrive John blogger di “The Natural Contemplative”: “Sembrano essere un modo di comunicare tra loro sulle lunghe distanze. Sono cantati da foche maschili e femminili, e ogni canzone è unica per la foca che la canta. Ciò significa che le foche possono usare queste canzoni per identificarsi e trovarsi l’un l’altra negli abissi”

LINK
http://www.elicriso.it/it/stragi_compiute_uomo/foca/
http://saturdaychorale.com/2013/06/13/granville-bantock-1868-1946-song-to-the-seals/ http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/casey/songof.htm http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=41145