Cailín as Contae Lú

Background

 Video above by kind permission Meon Eile (c) 2017

(see A Hidden Ulster pp.193-6 for detailed references and information)

Cailín as Contae Lú. Kitty Campbell (1808-1913). The last native Irish speaker in Louth village. copyright Oriel Arts and A Hidden Ulster 2017

A County Down shoemaker from Glen was captivated by the haughty, young woman from County Louth who would, clearly prefer to be back in County Louth, and refuses his offer of marriage. This elicits an attack, by the poet, on the miserly ways of Louth people who close their doors on travellers and strangers, in comparison to the abundant pleasures and welcome given in his native Glen in County Down.

The poet would seem to have been familiar with another poem by the famous Omeath poet, Séamus Dall Mac Cuarta, who wrote in ‘Faoi Mhalaigh Shliabh Crúb’: Ní sheasann tusa cliu do na bodaigh as Lú, ‘S gurab e dúnadh a gcuid doirse a b’fhearr leo (You do not uphold the reputation of those Louth churls, Who prefer the closing of their doors).

A once popular song in Oriel, it probably originated in County Down. A version was collected by collector Lorcán Ó Muirí (AHU pp.358-50) from a Mrs Larkin whose mother came from County Down.

The collector Seosamh Laoide collected a version near Mullaghban from a woman who learned it in Mayobridge, County Down. Nonetheless, most versions were collected in Louth and Armagh.  One version was collected by Mullaghban collector, Tomás Mac Cuilleannáin (AHU pp.365-6) in Dromintee which is near the Moyra Pass mentioned in the song.

Tomás Mac Cuilleannáin agus Peadar Ó Dubhda

Tomás Mac Cuilleannáin left, with photographer Peadar Ó Dubhda second right.

The source was James McCrink, from a family of musicians and singers, who gave the air to collector Luke Donnellan (AHU pp.361-63). The Glen mentioned in the song is on the north side of Newry (AHU pp.193-6).

©Oriel Arts 2017

Thomas ‘The Feather’ McCrink and Briget McAleavey Dromintee. copyright McCrink Family. Thomas had ‘hundreds’ of songs in Irish. 

Transmission

Lyrics and music were reconnected and interpreted by singer Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin who first recorded it on An Dealg Óir CD (Gael Linn 2003) with harp accompaniment by Helen Davies.

The song is now in the repertoire of other traditional singers including Ríoghnach Connolly of County Armagh who learned it from An Dealg Óir recording and she can be heard singing it on Fleadh TV on youtube.

 

It is recorded on Ceoltaí Oirialla – Songs of Oriel CD 2017 with accompaniment from Helen Davies on harp.

 

©Oriel Arts 2017

Words

Sources

Words

  • ‘An Cailín Beag óg as Lúghmhaighe’: Lorcán Ó Muirí MSS (p.38 ) among Ó hUallacháin papers from Mrs O’Hagan, Omeath.
  • ‘An Cailín a’s Conndae Lúghmhaighe’: Ceolta Oméith (1920) 15 (‘A song from Iveagh – Co. Down’). Bóthar an Mhaighre: Gaelic Journal, Oct. (1902), 153, collected by J.H. Lloyd.

Cailín as Contae Lú

Bhí mé lá breá aerach ag dul bóthar a’ Mhaighre,
Is chas domh spéirbhean as Contae Lú,
Is d’fhiafraíos féin di in eaglais Dé,
An bpósfadh sí gréasaí as Contae ’n Dúin?

Dúirt an spéirbhean go raibh mé a’ pléadáil,
Is nár in mo leithéidse a chuir sí dúil,
Is dúirt sí ’na dhiaidh sin nár chleacht sé léi,
Gur mhíle b’fhearr léi bheith i gContae Lú.

A chailín tuatach de threibh na mbrúidéal,
Nach dtaithníonn súgradh leat is nach n-aithníonn greann,
Bíonn na doirse dúnta acu ar aghaidh aon siúiléara
Nuair a bhíonn(s) fáilte sa Dún do gach uile dhream.

Nach mbíonn úlla cumhra againn is mil is plúr ann
Nuair a bhíonn(s) mur gcrusta láidir teann,
Nach mbíonn sibh tuatach is mur ndoirse dúnta
Nuair a bhíonn(s) fáilte sa ghleann ’na bhfuil mise ann.

Cha raibh mise ach ’súgradh is chan olc liom diúltú,
Is a liacht sin cúileann deas thíos sa ghleann,
Nuair a bheas na doirse dúnta ar dhroim an diúltaithe,
Beidh fáilte dhúbalta síos fán Ghleann.

A Lass from County Louth

One fine day I was going the Moyra pass,
And I met a fair one from County Louth,
I asked her myself, here in God’s church,
Would she marry a shoemaker from County Down?

This fair maid said that I was jesting,
That it wasn’t the likes of me that she desired,
She said as well that it wasn’t her wont,
She’d a thousand times rather be in County Louth.

O lass from Louth, of the boorish people,
Who like not sporting and knows not fun;
Your doors are shut in the face of each traveller,
When there’s a welcome in Down for everyone.

Don’t we have sweet apples, honey and flour,
When your crust of bread there is hard and firm?
Aren’t you boorish with your closed doors,
When there’s a welcome in the glen where I am in?

I was only sporting and I don’t mind refusal,
And the many fair, fine women down by the glen,
When your doors will be closed after the refusal,
There will be a double welcome in the Glen

(Translation: Pádraigín Ní Uallachain)

©Oriel Arts 2017

Music

Air source: Cailín Beg óg Leoghbhaidhe: County Louth Arch. Journal 1909.

Music: Cailín as Contae Lú

This is an unusual modal air with which was written down by collector Luke Donnellan from the fiddle playing and singing of James McCrink – one of the celebrated McCrink musicians of Dromintee (AHU pp.400-1).

©Oriel Arts 2017

Thomas’The Feather’ McCrink and Briget McAleavey Dromintee. copyright McCrink Family