A chomaraigh aoibhinn ó (Sweet Comeragh)

The song “A chomaraigh aoibhinn ó” written in Irish Gaelic by Maurus Ó Faoláin (1853-1931) a Cistercian priest born in Kilrossanty, Co Waterford, expresses love for the Sweet Comeragh the land of the Decies, the homeland to which the emigrant returns for his homesick.
Il canto scritto in gaelico irlandese da Maurus Ó Faoláin (1853-1931), frate cistercense nato a Kilrossanty contea di Waterford esprime l’amore per lo Sweet Comeragh la terra dei Decies, la terra natia alla quale l’emigrato fa ritorno per la troppa nostalgia. 

Up The Déise!

County Waterford, Ireland, is known locally as “An Déise” in Gaeilge. Sometime between the 4th and 8th centuries AD, a tribe of native Gaelic people called the Déisi were driven from the southern parts of the country, conquering and settling here. The Déise region is a beautiful region with two mountain ranges, beautiful rivers and lakes and over 30 beaches along its unique volcanic coast line. It is one of the few regions in Ireland with a Gaeltacht, an area with native Irish speaking people. The Déise has a rich history from megalithic tombs and Ogham stones. (from here)
La contea di Waterford, in Irlanda, è conosciuta localmente come “An Déise” in gaelico. A un certo punto tra il IV e l’VIII secolo d.C., una tribù di nativi celti i Déisi furono cacciati dalle parti meridionali del paese, e si stabilirono qui sui territori conquistati. La regione di Déise è una bellissima regione con due catene montuose, bellissimi fiumi e laghi e oltre 30 spiagge lungo la sua unica linea costiera di origine vulcanica. È una delle poche regioni in Irlanda con un Gaeltacht, un’area con nativi di lingua irlandese. Il Déise ha una ricca storia di tombe megalitiche e pietre Ogham.

Three versions always with the same singer, Karan Casey originally from County Waterford, who learned this song from Ann Mulqueen
Tre versioni sempre con la stessa cantante, Karan Casey originaria della contea di Waterford,  che imparò il canto da Ann Mulqueen

Solas in The Words That Remain, 1998

Karan Casey & Paul Halley · Paul Winter & Friends in Celtic Solstice 1999

Karan Casey live for Highland Sessions

Fiona Kelleher & Mel Mercier & Kate Ellis in My Love Lies 2008

Mo bheannacht óm’ chroí Dod’ thir ‘s dod’ shléibhte
A chomaraigh aoibhinn ó Is dod’ mhuintir shuairc
Ar dual dóibh féile A chomaraigh aoibhinn ó
Do shrutháin gheala ‘S do choillte craobhach
Do ghleannta meala ‘S do bhánta léire
Ó grá mo chroí Iad siúd le chéile
A chomaraigh aoibhinn ó
Is dathúil breá Do chruacha scéimchruth
A chomaraigh aoibhinn ó Nuair a lasaid suas
Le hamharc gréine A chomaraigh aoibhinn ó
Na faillte ‘s leacain Ar gach taobh diot
Mar bhrata sróil Le seolta gleásta
Nuair a scaipeann an drúcht Anuas ón spéir ort
A chomaraigh aoibhinn ó
Do bhíos thar sáile Seal i gcéin uait
A chomaraigh aoibhinn ó I ndúthaigh fáin
Ag déanamh saoithair A chomaraigh aoibhinn ó
Ach b’obair tháir liom Cnuasach gréithre
I bhfad óm’ ait Fé scáil do shléibhte
Is chas mé arís ort A phlúr na nDéise
A chomaraigh aoibhinn ó

My heartfelt blessings
On your valleys and mountains
Sweet Comeragh
And on your cheeful people
So naturally kind
Sweet Comeragh
On your shining streams
And your leafy woodlands
Your honeyed slopes
And your gleaming meadows
My heart fills with love
For all of them surely
Sweet Comeragh
Your rugged peaks
Are a handsome sight
Sweet Comeragh
As the rising sun
Sets them aflame
Sweet Comeragh
Cliffs and steep slopes
In every direction
Like a satin weave
From a magic loom
As the dew falls
From the heavens high
Sweet Comeragh
I was a while away (1)
From your beauty
Sweet Comeragh
Slaving so hard
In a foreign land
Sweet Comeragh
Base work it was
Just making a living
Far from my home
‘Neath the shade of your mountains
So I came back to you
The flower of the Déise (2)
Sweet Comeragh
Traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
Le mie benedizioni sincere
alle tue valli e montagne
Dolce Comeragh
e alla tua gente allegra
tanto gentile di natura
Dolce Comeragh
ai tuoi chiari ruscelli
e i tuoi boschi frondosi
e i dolci pendii
e i tuoi prati scintillanti.
Il mio cuore si riempie d’amore
vero per tutto quanto
Dolce Comeragh
Le tue vette accidentate
sono una bella vista
Dolce Comeragh
quando il sole nascente
le infiamma
Dolce Comeragh
Scogliere e pendii ripidi
in ogni direzione
come una trama di raso
da un telaio magico
mentre la rugiada cade
dall’alto dei cieli
Dolce Comeragh
Mi è mancata
la tua bellezza
Dolce Comeragh
a sgobbare duramente
in una terra straniera
Dolce Comeragh
Il lavoro principale era
guadagnarsi da vivere
lontano da casa mia
all’ombra delle tue montagne
Quindi sono tornato da te
fiore della Dessia
Dolce Comeragh
1) letteralmente “Sono stato via per un po’”
2) flower of na Déise  = The Decies, The county is based on the historic Gaelic territory of the Déise, anglicised ‘Decies’ or ‘Dessia’. There is an Irish-speaking area, Gaeltacht na nDéise, in the south-west of the county. The Celtic tribe of the Decies or An Déise, established in present-day Waterford County, converted to Christianity as early as the mid-fourth century.
[La contea è basata sullo storico territorio gaelico della Déise, anglicizzata “Decies” o “Dessia”. C’è un’area di lingua irlandese, Gaeltacht na nDise, nel sud-ovest della contea. La tribù celtica dei Decies o An Déise, stanziati nell’attuale contea di Waterford si sono convertiti al Cristianesimo già nella metà del IV secolo]


Bonny Portmore: the ornament tree

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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.


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

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.
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.
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.
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.

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.


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.


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.


Fine Crowd

The High Kings live

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
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)
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.
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
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.
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

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.


Puck Fair: a rebellious billy-goat

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In the Irish village of Killorglin, County Kerry (South-West Ireland), the most curious feast is celebrate in August: a wild goat is brought to the village and crowned king for three days and three nights (10, 11 and 12 August) . Put unfortunately in a cage, he is hoisted on a high scaffolding that dominates the houses of the village, to look curiously the activities to which his subjects are dedicated: up there, although imprisoned, the beak is abundantly fed of food and water, and at the end of the fair he is returned to his mountain!




The fair is full of events: horse fair, livestock, craft stalls, street performers, music, parades with the band, dance and fireworks. As is the case with these traditional festivals, the origins are remote and lost in the Middle Ages, so legends are never lacking: the origins are presumably related to the Celtic religion when to celebrate a good harvest they interceded with the god Lughsee more); the legend tells of two rival clans, and of a mountain beak that has had the promptness to warn the village from the armed attack; so the warriors of the village in turn armed themselves and prepared their defense, succeeding in defeating the enemy clan. The beak instead of roasting was crowned King Puck and taken to parade. Other stories bring the legend back to the times of Oliver Cromwell and the “invaders” become the English who went to Ireland to subdue the Irish to the Crown. The soldiers bothered a group of goats, but the head of the pack the “puck” instead of fleeing to the hills, rushed to the town of Killorglin to “warn” the inhabitants.

Other legends indicate the origin of King Puck at the beginning of the nineteenth century: the fair was already flourishing and, as usual, the sellers paid heavy tax to local lord; when the British government made illegal to impose tolls at livestock, horse and sheep fairs, attorney Daniel O’Connell suggested to devote the fair exclusively to goats, as they were not mentioned in the document (August 10, 1808 ); and to show of good faith, a goat was hoisted on a stage at the top of the fair banner.

Historically the fair has obtained legal status from King James I of England and Ireland (and James VI of Scotland) in 1603.

re capro
“Kings may come and Kings may go. But King Puck goes on forever.” The sculpture was inaugurated on August 5, 2001



The goat is not an unusual animal in the Celtic tradition and generally represents fertility. The Amaltea goat fed baby Zeus and the Norse goat Heidrun dispenses mead from its udders to the Valalla warriors.
Fauns and satyrs in Greek and Latin mythology personify sexual desire and libido, the horned god with deer antlers or goat-ram horns became the syncretic god of pre-Christian religions and lent his image to the Devil.

Thus in mythology and religions, the female of goat was represented with a positive image, symbol of nourishment, fertility and abundance, while the male of goat had negative connotations.

In Irish folklore, the bocánach (a goblin-goat) infests the battlefields while in the Scottish Highlands the Glaistig (half woman and half goat) is a of the guardian waters of the cattle. With long, beautiful blonde hair, she hides her animal bottom under a long green dress and attracts men with a song or dance to drink their blood, but in many parts of Scotland, glaistig are considered protectors of livestock and of shepherds, as well as of children left alone by their mothers watching over grazing animals. (see more)


An Poc ar Buile – The Mad Billy Goat

The song was composed by Dónal Ó Mulláin (1880-1965) in 1940, and made famous in the 60s by Seán Ó Sé: singer-farmer of Scrahans, violin and organ player, as well as a gifted dancer, he composed poems and songs in gaelic that were prized and immediately become popular.
Ar buile = bulling means “being angry” that the term in Irish Gaelic translates as “madness, frenzy”.
The beak thus becomes the symbol of the combative and indomitable Irish spirit!

The Chieftains from Water from the Well 2000

Liam Devally 1966 (what a voice!)

Gaelic Storm from Tree 2001

English translation
As I set out with me pike in hand To Dromore(1) town to join a meithil (2) Who should I meet but a tan puck goat(3)
And he’s roaring mad in ferocious mettle.
Aill-il-lu puill-il-iu – Aill-il-lu it’s the mad puck goat.
He chased me over bush and weed And thru the bog the running proceeded,
‘Til he caught his horns in a clump of gorse
And on his back I jumped unheeded.
He did not leave a rock that had a passage through
Which he did not run with force to destroy me
And then he gave the greatest leap
To the big slope of Faille Bríce…
When the sergeant stood in Rochestown(4)
With a force of guards to apprehend us
The goat he tore his trousers down And made rags of his breeches and new suspenders
In Dingle(5) Town the next afternoon The parish priest addressed the meeting
And swore it was The Devil himself He’d seen ridin’ on the poc ar buile
Irish gaelic
Ag gabháil dom sior chun Droichead Uí Mhóradha
Píce im dhóid ‘s mé ag dul i meithil
Cé casfaí orm i gcuma ceoidh
Ach pocán crón is é ar buile…
[curfá] Ailliliú, puilliliú, ailliliú tá an puc ar buile!
Ailliliú, puilliliú, ailliliú tá an puc ar buile!
Do ritheamar trasna trí ruillógach,
Is do ghluais an comhrac ar fud na muinge,
Is treascairt do bhfuair sé sna turtóga
Chuas ina ainneoin ina dhrom le fuinneamh…
Níor fhág sé carraig go raibh scót ann
Ná gur rith le fórsa chun mé a mhilleadh,
S’Ansan sea do cháith sé an léim ba mhó.
Le fána mhór na Faille Bríce…
Bhí garda mór i mBaile an Róistigh
Is bhailigh fórsa chun sinn a chlipeadh
Do bhuail sé rop dá adhairc sa tóin ann
S’dá bhríste nua do dhein sé giobail…
In Daingean Uí Chúis le haghaidh an tráthnóna
Bhí an sagart paróiste amach ‘nár gcoinnibh
Is é dúirt gurbh é an diabhal ba Dhóigh leis
A ghaibh an treo ar phocán buile…

1) Dromore (County of Tyrone, Northern Ireland) in 1798 was a notorious den of rebels so whoever braced the pike did it to fight against the British
2) Meithil (pronuncia MEH-hill) = work gang is a group of farmers who go to help for an “extraordinary” job in the nearby farm. In America, tradition is still rooted and is called “barn raising”
3) a crazy goat !! that is the billy goat (also called beak).
4) Cork County of Munster
5) Dingle (County of Kerry) and its territory were the scene of the “Second Desmond Rebellion” (1579-80)

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=43534 http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=27881

Báidín Fheidhlimidh

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The island of Tory or better Oileán Thoraigh, is a grain of rice (measuring 5 km in length and 1 in width) 12 km off the northern coast of Donegal. Ancient fortress of the Fomorians that from here left to raid the coasts of Ireland, a race of primordial gods, like Balor of the Evil Eye, the Celtic god of darkness that had only one eye on the back of the head.
It is called the island of artists since a small community of painters has been established in the 1950s. The hundreds of people who live there are Gaelic speakers and have been “governed” since the Middle Ages by a king of the island: it is up to the king to explain the legends and traditions of the island to the tourists!

island of Tory

by Pixdaus 

Bright and verdant in summer it is flagellate from strong storms in the winter months, theater of great tragedies of the sea.
But above all it is a land of rabbits and birds among which we can distinguish the puffins of the sea with the characteristic triangular beak of a bright orange with yellow and blue stripes wearing the frak.


“Phelim’s little boat” or “Báidín Fheidhlimidh” (Báidín fheilimi) is one of the “songs of the sea” and is taught to Irish children at schools being a rare example of a bilingual song. Almost certainly handed down for generations in oral form, the song may have been composed in the seventeenth century.
Despite appearing as a nursery rhyme, the ballad tells the story of Feilimí Cam Ó Baoill, or Phelim O’Boyle, who, to escape his bitter enemy, abandons Donegal. He was one of the Ulster leaders of the O’Neil clan, one of the largest tribal dynasty in Northern Ireland (see). A warrior-fisherman leader who, to avoid conflict with the Mac Suibhne clan, or Sweeney, takes the sea on a small boat to the island of Gola; but, still not feeling safe, he changes the route to the island of Tory, more jagged and rich in hiding places, even if more treacherous for the presence of the rocks. And right on the rocks the small boat breaks and Phelim drowns.

The Gaelic here is peculiar because it comes from Donegal and has different affinities with the Scottish Gaelic. Baidin is a word in Irish Gaelic that indicates a small boat and the concept of smallness returns obsessively in all verses; so the nursery rhyme has its moral: in highlighting the challenge and the audacity in spite of a contrary destiny, we do not have to forget the power of the sea and we must remind that freedom has a very high price.

Sinéad O’Connor from  Sean-Nós Nua 2002:  ua voice with such a particular tone; here the pitch is melancholic supported by a siren-like echo effect. In the commentary on the booklet Sinéad writes:
It tells the story of Feilim Cam Baoill, a chieftain of the Rosses [in Donegal] in the 17th century. He had to take to the islands off Donegal to escape his archenemy Maolmhuire an Bhata Bu Mac Suibhne. Tory Island was more inaccessible and seemed safer than Gola, but his little boat was wrecked there. For me, the song is one of defiance and bravery in spite of terrible odds. It is a song of encouragement that we should be true to ourselves even if being true means ‘defeat’. A song of the beauty of freedom. And a song of the power of the sea as a metaphor for the unconscious mind. It shows that we can never escape our soul.”

Na Casaidigh from Singing for memory 1998: a fine arrangement of the voices in the choir and a final instrumental left to the electric guitar in a mix between traditional and modern sounds very pleasant and measured.

Angelo Branduardi from Il Rovo e la Rosa 2013,  (his Gaelic is a bit strange!) the arrangement with the violin is very precious

Phelim’s little boat went to Gola,
Phelim’s little boat and Phelim in it,
Phelim’s little boat went to Gola,
Phelim’s little boat and Phelim in it
A tiny little boat, a lively little boat,
A foolish little boat, Phelim’s little boat,
A straight little boat, a willing little boat,
Phelim’s little boat and Phelim in it.
Phelim’s little boat went to Tory,
Phelim’s little boat and Phelim in it,
Phelim’s little boat went to Tory,
Phelim’s   little boat and Phelim in it.
Phelim’s little boat crashed on Tory,
Phelim’s little boat and Phelim in it,
Phelim’s little boat crashed on Tory,
Phelim’s little boat and Phelim in it.
Donegal Gaelic
Báidín Fheidhlimidh d’imigh go Gabhla,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh ‘s Feidhlimidh ann
Báidín Fheidhlimidh d’imigh go Gabhla,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh ‘s Feidhlimidh ann
Báidín bídeach, Báidín beosach,
Báidín bóidheach, Báidín Fheidhlimidh,
Báidín díreach, Báidín deontach,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh’s Feidhlimidh ann.
Báidín Fheidhlimidh d’imigh go Toraigh,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh’s Feidhlimidh ann
Báidín Fheidhlimidh d’imigh go Toraigh,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh ‘s Feidhlimidh ann.
Báidín Fheidhlimidh briseadh i dToraigh,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh ‘s Feidhlimidh ann
Báidín Fheidhlimidh briseadh i dToraigh,
Báidín  Fheidhlimidh ‘s Feidhlimidh ann (1)

1) or Iasc ar bhord agus Feilimí ann  [Laden with fish and Phelim on board]

THE DANCE: Waves of Tory

The island has also given the title to an Irish folk dance “Waves of Tory” which reproduces the waves breaking on the rocks! Among the dances for beginners is performed with one step and presents only a difficult figure called Waves.
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Amhrán Na Craoibhe

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Amhrán Na Craoibhe (in englishThe Garland Song)  is the processional song in Irish Gaelic of the women who carry the May branch (May garland) in the ritual celebrations for the festival of Beltane, still widespread at the beginning of the twentieth century in Northern Ireland (Oriel region).

The song comes from Mrs. Sarah Humphreys who lived in the county of Armagh and was collected in the early twentieth century, erroneously called ‘Lá Fhéile Blinne‘ (The Feast of St Blinne) because it was singed in Killeavy for the Feast of St Moninne, affectionately called “Blinne“, a clear graft of pre-Christian traditions in the Catholic rituals.
The song is unique to the south-east Ulster area and was collected from Sarah Humphreys who lived in Lislea in the vacinity of Mullaghban in Co. Armagh. The air of the song from Cooley in Co. Louth survived in the oral tradition from my father Pádraig. It was mistakenly called ‘Lá Fhéile Blinne’ (The Feast of St Blinne) by one collector. Though it was sung as part of the celebrations of Killeavy Pattern it had no connection with Blinne or Moninne, a native saint of South Armagh, but rather the old surviving pre-Christian traditions had been incorporated into Christian celebrations. The district of ‘Bealtaine’ is to be found within a few miles of Killeavy where this song was traditionally sung, though the placename has been forgotten since Irish ceased to be the vernacular of the community within this last century. Other place names nearby associated with May festivities are: Gróbh na Carraibhe; The Grove of the Branch/Garland (now Carrive Grove) Cnoc a’ Damhsa; The Hill of Dancing (now Crockadownsa).” (Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, 2002, A Hidden Ulster)
St Moninna of Killeavy died in 517-518, follower of St Brigid of Kildare, her names “Blinne” or “Moblinne” mean “little” or “sister” (“Mo-ninne” could be a version of Niniane, the “Lady of the Lake” of the Arthurian cycle); according to scholars her name was Darerca and her (alleged) tomb is located in the cemetery of Killeavy on the slopes of Slieve Gullion where it was originally located her monastery of nuns, become a place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages along with her sacred well, St Bline’s Well.


It seems that the name of Baptism of this virgin, commemorated in the Irish martyrologists on July 6th, was Darerca, and that Moninna is instead a term of endearment of obscure origin. We have her Acta, but her life was confused with the English saint Modwenna, venerated at Burton-on-Trent. Darerca was the foundress and first abbess of one of Ireland’s oldest and most important female monasteries, built in Killeavy (county of Armagh), where the ruins of a church dedicated to her are still visible. He died in 517. Killeavy remained an important center of religious life, until it was destroyed by the Scandinavian marauders in 923; Darerca continued to be widely revered especially in the northern region of Ireland (translated from  here)


The Slieve Gullion Cairns

Slieve Gullion ( Sliabh gCuillinn ) is a place of worship in prehistoric times on the top of which a chamber tomb was built with the sunlit entrance at the winter solstice. (see).
According to legend, the “Old Witch” lives on its top, the Cailleach Biorar (‘Old woman of the waters’) and the ‘South Cairn’ is her home also called ‘Cailleach Beara’s House‘.
the site with virtual reality
On the top of the mountain a small lake and the second smaller burial mound built in the Bronze Age. In the lake, according to local evidence, lives a kelpie or a sea monster and it’s hid the passage to the King’s Stables. (Navan, Co. Armagh)

Cailleach Beara by Cheryl Rose-Hall

The Hunt of Slieve Cuilinn

The goddess, a Great Mother of Ireland, Cailleach Biorar (Bhearra) -the Veiled is called Milucradh / Miluchradh, described as the sister of the goddess Aine in the story of “Fionn mac Cumhaill and the Old Witch“, we discover that the nickname of Fionn (Finn MacColl) “the blond”, “the white” comes from a tale of the cycle of the Fianna: everything begins with a bet between two sisters Aine (the goddess of love) and Moninne (the old goddess), Aine boasted that he would never have slept with a gray-haired man, so the first sister brought Fionn to the Slieve Gullion (in the form of a gray fawn she made Fionn pursue her in the heat of hunting by separating himself from the rest of his warriors), then turned into a beautiful girl in tears sitting by the lake to convince Fionn to dive and retrieve her ring. But the waters of the lake had been enchanted by the goddess to bring old age to those who immersed themselves (working in reverse of the sacred wells), so Fionn came out of the lake old and decrepit,and obviously with white hair. His companions, after having reached and recognized him, succeed in getting Cailleach to give him a magic potion that restores vigor to Fionn but leaves him with white hair! (see)

The Cailleach and Bride are probably the same goddess or the different manifestations of the same goddess, the old woman of the Winter and the Spring Maid in the cycle of death-rebirth-life of the ancient religion.

The ancient path to St Bline’s Well.

On the occasion of the patronal feast (pattern celebrations) of the Holy Moninna (July 6) a procession was held in Killeavy that started from St Blinne grave, headed to the sacred well along an ancient path, and then returned to the cemetery. A competition was held between teams of young people from various villages to make the most beautiful effigy of the Goddess, a faded memory of Beltane’s festivities to elect their own May Queen. During the procession the young people sang Amhrán Na Craoibhe accompanied by a dance, whose choreography was lost, each sentence is sung by the soloist to whom the choir responds. The melody is a variant of Cuacha Lán de Bhuí on the structure of an ancient carola (see)

One of the most spectacular high-level views in Ireland.
On a clear day, it’s possible to see from the peak (573 mt) as far as Lough Neagh, west of Belfast, and the Wicklow Mountains, south of Dublin.

Páidraigín Ní Uallacháin from“An Dealg  Óir” 2010

Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin & Sylvia Crawford live 2016 


English translation P.Ní Uallacháin*
My branch is the branch
of the fairy women,
Hey to him who takes her home,
hey to her;

The branch of the lasses
and the branch of the lads;
Hey to him who takes her home,
hey to her;

The branch of the maidens
made with pride;
Hey, young girls,
where will we get her a spouse?
We will get a lad
in the town for the bride (1),
A dauntless, swift, strong lad,
Who will bring this branch (2)
through the three nations,
From town to town
and back home to this place?
Two hundred horses
with gold bridles on their foreheads,
And two hundred cattle
on the side of each mountain,
And an equal amount
of sheep and of herds (3),
O, young girls, silver
and dowry for her,
We will carry her with us,
up to the roadway,
Where we will meet
two hundred young men,
They will meet us with their
caps in their fists,
Where we will have pleasure,
drink and sport (4),
Your branch is like
a pig in her sack (5),
Or like an old broken ship
would come into Carlingford (6),
We can return now
and the branch with us,
We can return since
we have joyfully won the day,
We won it last year
and we won it this year,
And as far as I hear
we have always won it.
Irish gaelic
‘S í mo chraobhsa
craobh na mban uasal
(Haigh dó a bheir i’ bhaile í
‘s a haigh di)

Craobh na gcailín is
craobh na mbuachaill;
(Haigh dó a bheir i’ bhaile í
‘s a haigh di).

Craobh na ngirseach
a rinneadh le huabhar,
Maise hóigh, a chaillíní,
cá bhfaigh’ muinn di nuachar?
Gheobh’ muinn buachaill
sa mbaile don bhanóig;
Buachaill urrúnta , lúdasach, láidir
A bhéarfas a ‘ghéag
seo di na trí náisiún,
Ó bhaile go baile è ar
ais go dtí an áit seo
Dhá chéad eachaí
è sriantaí óir ‘na n-éadan,
Is dhá chéad eallaigh
ar thaobh gach sléibhe,
È un oiread sin eile
de mholtaí de thréadtaí,
Óró, a chailíní, airgead
is spré di,
Tógfa ‘muinn linn í suas’
un a ‘bhóthair,
An áit a gcasfaidh
dúinn dhá chéad ógfhear,
Casfa ‘siad orainn’ sa gcuid
hataí ‘na ndorn leo,
An áit a mbeidh aiteas,
ól is spóirse,
È cosúil mbur gcraobh-na
le muc ina mála,
Nó le seanlong bhriste thiocfadh ‘steach i mBaile Chairlinn,
Féada ‘muinn tilleadh anois
è un’ chraobh linn,
Féada ‘muinn tilleadh,
tá an lá bainte go haoibhinn,
Bhain muinn anuraidh é
è bhain muinn i mbliana é,
è mar chluinimse bhain
muinn ariamh é.

May Garland

1) it is the May doll, but also the Queen of May personification of the female principle of fertility
2) the may garland made by women
3) heads of cattle in dowry that is the animals of the village that will be smashed by the fires of Beltane
4) after the procession the feast ended with a dance
5) derogatory sentences against other garlands carried by rival teams “a pig in a poke” is a careless purchase, instead of a pig in the bag could be a cat!
6) Lough Carlingford The name is derived from the Old Norse and in irsih is “Lough Cailleach”

7005638-albero-di-biancospino-sulla-strada-rurale-contro-il-cielo-bluThe hawthorn is the tree of Beltane, beloved to Belisama, grows as a shrub or as a tree of small size (only reaches 7 meters in height) widening the branches in all the directions, in search of the light upwards.
The branch of hawthorn and its flowers were used in the Celtic wedding rituals and in the ancient Greece and also for the ancient Romans it was the flower of marriage, a wish for happiness and prosperity.
The healing virtues of hawthorn were known since the Middle Ages: it is called the “valerian of the heart” because it acts on the blood flow improving its circulation and it is also used to counteract insomnia and states of anguish. see


The flowers are small, white and with delicate pinkish hues, sweetly scented. In areas with late blooms for Beltane the “mayers” use the branch of blackthorn,same family as the Rosaceae but with flowering already in March-April.


Amhrad Na Beltaine




Irish May Day (Beltane)

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May day is called in Ireland the “na Beal tina” or “the day of the fire of Beal” consecrated to Bel or Belenos. On the eve large fires are lit and the cattle are passed between them – as was the ancient custom of the Celts – custom still conserved in the Irish countryside with the belief that this preserves cows from diseases and from Good People (wee folk).

All hearths were extinguished at sunset and rekindled with the embers of the collective bonfire only the next day (and still today in Ballymenone county of Fermanagh).
The cattle were then taken to the summer pastures, where they remained until Samahin, watching by a buachaill.


Fee74aBeltane is a crucial day in the season (Winter ends and Summer begins) and fairie can more easily make contact with the world of humans. The eve is a day in which you have to pay the most attention, because the fairy people (Good People for the Irish) can be very spiteful and even the malefics are more effective. So no Irish woman would ever taking her newborn for a walk outside so as not to risk finding a challenger in return. In particular, youth and beauty can arouse the envy of fairies and therefore even the beautiful girls are indoors.
In general it is popular belief that illnesses or injuries occurring on the May Eve are the most difficult to cure. So it is a good idea to always leave the house with an iron amulet around your neck or in your pocket and leave an offer of food to the fairies!


Mummers were typical beggars during the nineteenth century, masked figures equivalent to the English Morris dance. Thomas Crofton Croker in “The Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland” (published in 1825) reports many Irish traditions of May and describes precisely the May Mummers; in short, Croker tells us that during his trip to the south of Ireland he witnessed the May festival, which is the favorite of the Mummers: a group of girls and boys from the village or neighborhood who march in procession in a row for two, the men are dressed in white with brightly colored jackets or waistcoats and carry colored ribbons on their hats and on their sleeves and even the women are dressed in white or in light colors. A pair of girls carries a holly bush for each, decorated with many colored ribbons with hanging many new hurling balls (a popular sport that begins in May), a May gift for young people in the village. The procession is preceded by musicians, bagpipes or pipes and drums. There is a clown wearing a scary mask and bearing a long pole with scraps of fabric on top (like a broom) that plunges into the water and shakes it around the crowd to keep the little ones entertained.
The masks parade through the villages or go from house to house dancing to receive money and spend the evening with a cheerful and colossal drink.

The Procession of the May Queen Herbert Wilson Foster (1846–1929)


May Pole and the dances around the pole are quite common in Ireland, Holywood town in Northern Ireland is famous for its May tree erected in the middle of a crossroads: according to local tradition it dates back to 1700 (taken from the mast of a ship) and is still a place for dances to the annual May festival.

Holywood Pole

But the most typical custom is to cut a branch of hawthorn (or rowan) and plant it next to the door or put it on outside the door, making a garland with yellow flowers (primroses, marigolds and buttercups) and colored ribbons.
From this tradition was born the May basket crafted by the childrenand and filled with fresh flowers, to be left – secretly – next to the door of the neighbors or beloved one. With this auspicious token, the inhabitants are protected from fairies, because fairies cannot overcome these flowered barriers.


The herbs harvested before sunrise in May Day have better healing properties especially to treat warts. When butter production was a homemade churning process, the first butter produced with milk from May Day was considered the best to prepare ointments.

Another custom of the eve was a good whipping with nettles and the children went around running with a bunch of nettles to hit the comrades or the unfortunate bystanders; their task was to collect the shoots of nettles to bring home to the kitchen pantry. Known as a purifying and detoxifying herb since ancient times, nettle was in fact used in the preparation of soups and the Irish rural tradition recommended eating nettles in May to treat or prevent rheumatism. Even in ancient Rome it was recommended to those who suffered from rheumatism or rheumatoid arthritis to roll in the nettle. see more

Nettles once rivaled linen and hemp as weaving fiber, for sails, clothes and household linen.


The Cliff of Dooneen or Avalon?

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“The Cliff of Dooneen” (Doneen, Dooneen, Duneen) is an Irish ballad from the 1930s (or late 19th century), made famous by Planxty; it spread to Great Britain after the post-war migration, Christy Moore heard a version in 1965 by various singers (Andy Rynne, Ann Mulqueen and Mick McGuane) and made it popular in folk scene of the 70s.

Like Avalon, the Dooneen cliffs are not found in a specific place, but in the mists of myth and nostalgia. Two counties contend this location: Clare near the mouth of the Shannon and Kerry near Beal. However, it is suspected that the confusion between the counties is an attempt to advertise the cliffs of Moher, that is one of the most charming places in Ireland.
It’s an emigration song, those who leave for distant lands regret their home and want to be buried in the places loved in their youth.

(Photo: Philippe Gosseau)


According to Beal’s people (Kerry Co.) the poem was penned by Jack McAuliffe of Lixnaw who wrote the original version during a visit to his sister. Nichols Carolan from the ITMA in Dublin attests: “Dooneen Point is on the Kerry Coast, between Ballylongford and Ballybunnion at the Mouth of the River Shannon, giving excellent views of the South West of Clare, though it should be said that it is not possible to see Kilrush and Kilkee from this point as stated in verse two [Christy Moore lyrics]. This has been explained by suggesting that the song was originally located in Moveen, a few miles south west of Kilkee in Clare. The song was first recorded in Dublin in the 1960s sung by Siney Crotty who came from Kilbaha, which is on the Clare side of the Shannon. Since it’s first appearance it has gained enormous popularity. The Irish Traditional Music Archive has around one hundred and ninety commercial recordings of it.

Jack McAuliffe poem
I have traveled afar from my own native home.
Away o’er the billows, away o’er the foam I have seen many sights but no equal I’ve seen
To the old rocky slopes by the cliffs of Dooneen
I have seen many sights of Columbus fair land,
Africa and Asia so delightful and grand,
But dig me a grave were the grass it grows green
On the old rocky slopes by the cliffs of Dooneen.
How pleasant to walk on a fine summers day.
And to view the sweet cherries that will never decay,
Where the sea grass(1) and seaweed and the old carrageen(2)
All grow from the rocks by the cliffs of Dooneen.
The Sand hills of Beal (3) are glorious and grand,
And the old castle ruins looking out on the strand,
Where the hares and the rabbits are there to be seen
Making holes for their homes by the cliffs of Dooneen.
I have tracked my love’s footsteps to the boathouse of old
And the dance  (4) on the hillside where love stories are told,
Its there you will see both the lad and the colleen
Moving round by the shore of the cliffs of Dooneen
Take a view across the Shannon some sites you will see there
High rocky mountains on the south coast of Clare
The towns of Kilrush and Kilkee ever green
But theres none to compare with the cliffs of Dooneen
Farewell Dooneen, Farewell for a while, And to those kind-Hearted neighbours that I left in the isle,
May my soul never rest till it’s laid on the green
Near the old rocky slopes by the Cliffs of Dooneen

1) these sea floor plants often grow in large “meadows” that resemble grazing
2) There are various types of red algae found along the coasts of Ireland – Great Britain: the alga dulse (Palmaria palmata) and the irish moss (Chondrus crispus also called Carragheen) which, when spread out and dried in the sun, turns to white in a characteristic “blonde” color!
3) the Dingle Peninsula in the south-west of Ireland has a very indented coastline characterized by rock headlands and pristine green meadows
4) a Feile Lughnasa, a Celtic summer festival still celebrated in July


However the most accredited version of the song is the one that identifies the cliffs with the “Cliffs of Moveen” in County Clare.


Christy Moore tells in his web pageIt is a very simple piece of writing yet the combination of its lyric and music have people around the world. I have heard it sung in very different styles too. Margo recorded a “Country and Irish” version whilst Andy Rynne used to sing it in the Sean-Nós style

 Christy Moore

Quadriga Consort

Christy Moore lyrics
You may travel far from your own native  home
Far away o’er the mountains, far away o’er the foam
But of all the fine places that I’ve ever seen
there’s none to compare with the Cliffs of Dooneen
Take a view o’er the mountains, fine sights you’ll see there
You’ll see the high rocky mountains o’er the West coast of Clare
Oh the towns of Kilkee and Kilrush can be seen
From the high rocky slopes of the cliffs of Dooneen
It’s a nice place to be on a fine summer’s day
Watching all the wild flowers that ne’er do decay
Oh the hares and the loft pheasants are plain to be seen
Making homes for their young round the cliffs of Dooneen
Fare thee well to Dooneen, fare thee well for awhile
And to all the kind people I’m leaving behind
To the streams and the meadows where late I have been
And the high rocky slopes of the cliffs of Dooneen

Who knows why on the Web many write that the text is by Jack McAuliffe but then they sing the Christy Moore version !!



Una vecchia aria tradizionale irlandese ha conosciuto un disceto successo come melodia abbinata a diverse canzoni, come spesso accade nell’ambito della musica tradizionale, una buona vecchia melodia è sempre pronta per un nuovo testo!
Già Thomas Moore (1779-1852) scrisse il testo della sua canzone “Bendemeer’s Stream” e un’altra canzone fu pubblicata sul “Nation” del 15 febbraio 1845 con il titolo “Lament of the Irish Maiden: A Brigade Ballad” prendendo sempre in prestito la stessa melodia.

Anche intotolata Carrigdhoun (o Carraig Donn) la canzone è attribuita da alcuni a Ellen Mary Patrick Downing (1828-1869), da altri a Denny Lane (1818-1895) di Cork. La melodia è finita poi nella “The Mountains of Mourne” scritta da  Percy French.


Danis Nagle in Land met sea project (qui)

Il testo rimanda al passato dell’Irlanda e si riferisce a una località vicina al Ballea Bridge sulla strada per Ballygarvan (da ammirare nelle spettacolari foto di Danis Nagle (qui), il ponte costruito nel 1790 con la pietra calcarea del posto è romanticamente integrato nel paesaggio.
Siamo in Autunno e la natura tutta sembra triste e desolata proprio come il cuore della fanciulla, la quale vanamente cerca sollievo nel ricordo della primavera passata, quando il suo Donald era ancora con lei e le giurava eterno amore! Così non ci saranno mai più primavere per lei a meno che non decida di seguirlo e emigrare in Francia!

Una fanciulla si dispera perchè il suo innamorato l’ha lasciata per andare a combattere l’Inghilterra arruolandosi nell’esercito francese. Erano i tempi della “Fuga dei Conti” così anche i giovani della Famiglia McCarthy (insediati nel Castello di Ballea) privati di terre e proprietà presero il volo.
Quando la Glorious Revolution del 1688 viene vinta dal protestante Guglielmo III d’Orange (e dalla neonata monarchia costituzionale) gli Irlandesi si schierano con il re cattolico spodestato Giacomo II Stuart (il quale fu costretto a fuggire di nuovo in Francia): alla fine delle lotte per la rivendicazione al trono con il trattato di Limerick del 1691 agli Irlandesi fu dato scegliere tra il giuramento di fedeltà a Guglielmo III o l’esilio e il sevizio militare sul continente; così molti soldati preferirono l’esilio e andarono a ingrossare le fila dell’esercito francese, mentre l’aristocrazia coloniale (Ascendancy) si impossessò delle loro terre e del potere. (continua)


ASCOLTA Cherish the Ladies in “The Back Door”, 1992
ASCOLTA Ernst Stolz arrangiamento strumentale

Versione Cherish the Ladies
On Carrigdhoun (1) the heath is brown,
The sky is dark o’er Ardnalee (2),
And many a stream comes rushing down
To swell the angry Ownabwee (3) ;
The moaning blast
goes sweeping fast
Through many a leafless tree,
And I’m alone, for he is gone,
My hawk (4) has flown,
ochone, machree (5)!
The heath was green
on Carrigdhoun,
Bright shone the sun
over Ardnalee,
The lighlting green trees bent trembling down
To kiss the slumbering Ownabwee;
That happy day,
’twas but last May,
‘Tis like a dream to me,
When Donnell swore,
ay, o’er and o’er,
We’d part no more,
astor machree (6)!
Light April showers
and bright May flowers
Will bring the summer back again,
But will they bring me back the hours
I spent with my brave
Donnell then?
‘Tis but a chance,
he’s gone to France,
To wear the fleur-de-lys (7);
But I’ll follow you my Donnell Dhu,
For still I’m true to you,
Traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
Sul Carrigdhoun la brughiera
è secca
il cielo è nuvoloso sopra Ardnalee
e più di un ruscello scorre rapido
a gonfiare il furioso Ownabwee,
il rimbombo lamentoso
prosegue svelto
attraverso molti alberi senza foglie
e io sono sola, perchè lui è partito
il mio falco ha preso il volo
ahimè cuore mio!
La brughiera era verde sul Carrigdhoun
luminoso splendeva il sole su Ardnalee,
gli alberi di un verde acceso
si piegavano tremuli
a baciare il placido Ownabwee;
quale giorno felice
era lo scorso Maggio
ma era solo un sogno per me
quando Donnell mi giurò,
si, e ancora e ancora
che non ci saremmo mai lasciati,
amore mio!
Le pioggerelline di Aprile
e i fiori vivaci di Maggio
riporteranno nuovamente l’estate,
ma mi riporteranno indietro le ore
che ho trscorso con
il mio coraggioso Donnell?
Non sarà possibile
perchè è partito per la Francia
a indossare il giglio,
ma ti seguirò mio Donnell Dhu
perchè ti sono sono ancora fedele.
cuore mio

1) Carrigdhoun: è una parola inventata dall’autore del testo.
2) Ard-na-Lee o Ardnalee è una località nei pressi di Cork
3) scritto anche come Own na Buidhe: Il fiume Owenabue [Owenboy] passa a sud della città di Cork.
4) in codice venivano chiamati “oche selvagge”
5) ochone mo chroidhe
6) a stór mo chroidhe, scritto anche A Stor Mo Chroi significa letteralmente: Tesoro del mio cuore
7) fleur-de-lys è il nome in francese del giglio araldico, emblema della ragalità.


Stolen Child

Read the post in English

Le fate non sono affatto creature benevole, attratte dalla forza e vitalità del genere umano, rapiscono i bambini e in particolare i neonati, o seducono (a scopo di rapimento) belle fanciulle e giovinetti.
I Rapimenti fatati erano un tempo un tentativo di razionalizzare il dolore per una morte sconvolgente, quando coglie la vita ancora in boccio. Si trovava consolazione nel pensare che le fate avessero sottratto quella giovane vita a un triste destino, secondo l’antica religione solo chi è caro agli dei muore giovane!

Si cercava anche di spiegare dei comportamenti anomali, come l’autismo o la depressione, così si diceva che i rapiti ritornati avevano perso l’anima, perchè avevano assaggiato  il cibo delle fate!
Racconti, fiabe e ballate della tradizione celtica sono ricchi di rapimenti fatati e descrivono una vasta gamma di situazioni per mettere in guardia i malcapitati: non bisogna mai fermarsi su di un prato d’erba alta e dentro un cerchio di funghi perchè sono anelli fatati, porte verso l’altro mondo; mai addormentarsi ai piedi di una collina perchè potrebbe essere un tumulo fatato, dimora del castello degli elfi. Ma il pericolo più grande è costituito dal cibo delle fate, perchè chi lo assaggia ne conserva uno struggente desiderio molto spesso fatale.  (vedi)


Slish Wood and Lough Gill, Co. Sligo (tratto da qui)

E’ la poesia scritta da W. B. Yeats (in The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems, 1889)  in cui si descrive per l’appunto un rapimento fatato. Yeats fu uno studioso di mitologia irlandese e appassionato raccoglitore di racconti e leggende sulle fate (ha pubblicato Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry nel 1888 e Fairy Folk Tales of Ireland nel 1892)

La poesia è ambientata nella contea di Sligo, dove il poeta trascorse la maggior parte del suo tempo, “la sua patria spirituale”, “terra dei desideri e del cuore!” e precisamente al Lough Gill un lago a forma di drago, ricco di isolette. Nella poesia descrive anche altre due località care alle fate: Rosses Point nella Baia di Sligo e la cascata di Glencar a metá strada tra Sligo e Manorhamilton, nella contea di Leitrim.

Sono le acque in cui le fate della contea vanno a divertirsi, quelle lacustri di Gill, dove sull’isola di Innisfree accumulano le provviste e banchettano, poi la Baia di Sligo sulla cui rena amano danzare al chiaro di luna, rincorrendo la spuma delle onde che si rifrangono sul bagnasciuga, e infine la cascata di Glencar dove giocano scherzetti alle trote e si fanno la doccia sotto alle felci.

ASCOLTA la poesia recitata da Anya Yalin e illustrata (salta la III strofa)

Stolen Child
W. B. Yeats
Where dips the rocky highland
Of sleuth wood in the lake
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats
There we’ve hid our fairy vats
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away oh human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand
Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light
By far off furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles
Whilst the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away oh human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand
Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above glen car
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams
Come away oh human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand
Away with us he’s going
The solemned eyed
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace unto his breast
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand.
Il fanciullo rapito
Traduzione italiano di Roberto Sanesi*
Laggiù dove i monti rocciosi
Di Sleuth Wood si tuffano nel lago,
Laggiù si stende un’isola fronzuta
Dove gli aironi svegliano, sbattendo
Le ali, i sonnolenti topi d’acqua;
Laggiù abbiamo nascosto i nostri tini
Fatati, ricolmi di bacche e ciliege
Fra le più rosse di quelle rubate.
Vieni, fanciullo umano!
Vieni all’acque e nella landa
Con una fata, mano nella mano,
Perché nel mondo vi sono più lacrime
Di quanto tu non potrai mai comprendere.
Laggiù dove l’onda del chiaro di luna risveglia
Riflessi luminosi nelle grigie e opache
Sabbie, lontano, là presso la lontana
Rosses (3), tessendo danziamo
Tutta la notte le più antiche danze,
Intrecciando le mani e intrecciando gli sguardi
Finché la luna non abbia preso il volo;
E avanti e indietro a balzi
Inseguiamo le bolle spumeggianti,
Mentre il mondo è ricolmo di pene
E dorme un sonno ansioso.
Vieni, fanciullo umano!
Vieni all’acque e nella landa
Con una fata, mano nella mano,
Perché nel mondo vi sono più lacrime
Di quanto tu non potrai mai comprendere.
Dove l’acqua zampilla, vagabonda,
Dalle colline sopra Glen-Car
Nei laghetti fra i salici
Dove a stento una stella potrebbe
Bagnarsi, cerchiamo le trote assopite
E bisbigliando, ai loro orecchi doniamo
Ad esse sogni inquieti;
Lievemente sporgendoci
Dalle felci che versano
Le loro lacrime sui giovani ruscelli.
Vieni, fanciullo umano!
Vieni all’acque e nella landa
Con una fata, mano nella mano,
Perché nel mondo vi sono più lacrime
Di quanto tu non potrai mai comprendere.
E con noi egli viene,
Il fanciullo dall’occhio solenne:
Mai più potrà udire i muggiti
Dei vitelli sui tepidi pendii
O la teiera sopra il focolare
Cantargli la pace nel petto,
Né vedere i sorci bruni
Che corrono attorno alla madia.
Perché egli viene, il fanciullo umano,
Viene all’acque e nella landa
Con una fata, mano nella mano,
Da un mondo dove esistono più lacrime
Di quanto egli potrà mai comprendere.

* traduzione di Roberto Sanesi da Poesie di Yeats, Mondadori 1974

La poesia fu  messa in musica  nel secolo successivo dal compositore inglese Cyril Rootham
ASCOLTA Stolen Child op 38, la versione per coro e orchestra

A dare notorietà alla poesia nell’ambito della musica folk ci ha pensato Loreena McKennitt con il suo album d’esordio, componendo la melodia.
Loreena McKennitt in Elemental, 1985 nel video si mostrano i paesaggi nella contea di Sligo tra la foschia, in suggestive albe o crepuscoli

Loreena McKennitt- Stolen Child-Nights From The Alhambra 2007

ASCOLTA Cuan Alainn (in inglese Beautiful Harbour) hanno realizzato un arrangiamento in russo della composizione di Loreena McKennitt -2014, testo tradotto da Gregory Kruzhkova per info sul video (qui)
ASCOLTA La versione folk-rock dei Waterboys risale al 1988: che mettono in musica il “ritornello” lasciando il parlato sulle strofe (voce di Tomas Mac Eoin)

ASCOLTA Heather Alexander in Wanderlust 1994, altra melodia

ASCOLTA Hamilton Camp  compone ancora un’altra melodia -piuttosto interessante, con un ritornello molto orecchiabile – e registra il brano con il titolo “Celts” nell’album Sweet Joy, 2006 (su Spotify)
ASCOLTA Merrymouth nell’album d’esordio “Simon Fowlers Merrymouth” 2012, su melodia composta da Simon Fowler/ Dan Sealey /Mike Mcnamara , molto intensaASCOLTA Kate Price in Songs from the Witches Wood 2009

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats
There we’ve hid our fairy vats
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away oh human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand
Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light
By far off furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles
Whilst the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above glen car
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams
Away with us he’s going
The solemned eyed
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace unto his breast
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand.
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto*
Dove l’altipiano roccioso
di Sleuth Wood (1) si immerge nel lago,
laggiù si trova un’isola boscosa (2)
dove il battito d’ali degli aironi,
sveglia i topi d’acqua dormiglioni;
laggiù abbiam nascosto delle fate
i mastelli ricolmi di mirtilli,
e delle più rosse ciliege rubate .
Vieni, fanciullo umano!
alle acque e ai boschi
mano nella mano di una fata
perché il mondo contiene più lacrime
di quante tu possa sopportare (3)
Dove l’onda al chiaro di luna tira a lucido le sabbie grigio scuro
lontano, presso la lontana Rosses (4),
per tutta la notte danziamo
la trama dei balli più antichi,
intrecciando mani e sguardi
finché la luna avrà preso il volo;
e avanti e indietro a balzi
inseguiamo le bolle schiumose,
mentre il mondo è ricolmo di pene
e dorme un sonno ansioso.
Dove l’acqua errabonda zampilla,
dalle colline sopra Glencar (5)
in pozze fra i giunchi, che a stento una stella potrebbe bagnarsi, (6)
cerchiamo le trote addormentate
e bisbigliandogli nelle teste (7)
doniamo loro sogni inquieti,
sporgendoci piano
dalle felci che piangono lacrime
sui rivoli novelli.
Via con noi egli andò,
il fanciullo dagli occhi gravi:
mai più sentirà i muggiti
dei vitelli sui tiepidi pendii,
o il bollitore sopra il focolare
cantargli la pace nel petto,
nè vedrà i topolini bruni
circolare attorno alla dispensa.(8)
Perché egli viene, il fanciullo umano,
alle acque e ai boschi
mano nella mano di una fata
perché il mondo contiene più lacrime
di quante tu possa sopportare

1) Sleuth Wood noto come Slish Wood,  “Sleuthwood by the lake”, un tempo un folto bosco di querce lungo la sponda meridionale  del Lago Gill, gran parte degli alberi vennero abbattuti per procurare il legname necessario agli sforzi bellici della II Guerra Mondiale. Il bosco scende ripido per incontrare l’acqua tra grandi massi coperti di muschio
2) letteralmente “isola di foglie”, è Innishfree (‘Isle of Heather’) l’isola disabitata nel Lough Gill in cui Yeats avrebbe voluto vivere abitando in un piccolo cottage (continua)
3) l’atteggiamento delle fate è compassionevole, il fato del fanciullo (o il mondo degli uomini) è crudele e vogliono evitargli delle sofferenze
4) Rosses Point è una spiaggia nella baia di Sligo, (dalla parte opposta del lago) una popolare località di villeggiatura della famiglia Yeats: una piccola striscia di sabbia e alle spalle una distesa d’erba. All’angolo nord di Rosses c’è un piccolo promontorio di sabbia, rocce ed erba: nessun contadino saggio si addormenterebbe ai suoi piedi per timore di un rapimento fatato
5) è la cascata di Glencar vicino al lago omonimo, nella contea di Leitrim.  Quando il vento soffia da Ovest l’acqua, invece di cadere, s’innalza verso il cielo. Per questo motivo, la cascata viene anche chiamata “il comignolo del diavolo”. Per la verità le cascate sono due, quella più alta e imponente e quella più bassa e più modesta, incastonata tra le rocce e il fogliame con una polla a gradoni
6) le chiazze d’acqua sono così piccole che a malapena rispecchiano le stelle del cielo
7) letteralmente “sussurrando alle loro orecchie” Sebbene i pesci non abbiano l’orecchio esterno, sono tuttavia in grado di udire: gli organi dell’udito sono localizzati nella parte posteriore del cranio ( orecchio interno). I pesci percepiscono i suoni che hanno una frequenza compresa tra i 16 e i 7.000 hertz.
8) la madia con la farina d’avena

ASCOLTA Clann una versione strumentale intitolata Stolen Child (le parole sono solo dei vocalizzi -di Charlotte Oleena- ma che atmosfera!!) in Seelie e di cui la KIN Fables ha prodotto una trilogia: Kin, Salvage, Requiem