‘A Hidden Ulster – people, songs and traditions of Oriel’ – Order Here

Ceoltaí Oirialla — Songs of Oriel (CD)

Ceoltaí Oirialla – Songs of Oriel – a Double CD of 27                             renewed songs released 2019


Order ‘Ceoltaí Oirialla’ CD/MP3

14 new tracks and re release of accompanied 14 songs

Ceoltaí Oirialla CD is the creative outcome of the process of regeneration and renewal of the Gaelic song tradition of southeast Ulster. Like the ouroboros at the centre of the above title, symbolising its eternal return or cyclicality, the song tradition feeds of its own tail to regenerate new life,

Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, who is a seasoned song smith and singer, has breathed upon the embers of the fragile remnants of a song tradition by remarrying lyrics to their lost music, singing and recording and giving the Oriel song tradition new life and vigour. These songs are now being sung again by singers from Oriel, Donegal and further afield.

Most of the airs on this CD were written down in staff and tonic solfa notation at the turn of the 20th century by various collectors in Oriel, while archival  fragmentary recordings were made. The airs were, in a sense, frozen in time as they were not sung in the community for over 100 years. Some have traces of antiquity with their simple and recitative type melodies, unusual intervals etc. They had not survived in the oral tradition and most are not found elsewhere in Ireland.

CD 1 is a recording of 14 songs with instrumental accompaniment from some of the best of Irish musicians

CD 2 is a recording of 14 songs in acapella sean-nós singing.


CEOLTAÍ OIRIALLA  CD1                                   CEOLTAÍ OIRIALLA CD2

 1.An Seanduine Dóite                                              1.Na Gamhna Geala 

 2.An Bonnán Buí                                                     2.An Bhean Chaointe

 3.Ailí Gheal Chiúin                                                  3.Dúlamán

 4.Tá ‘na Lá                                                               4.Úirchill a’ Chreagáin 

 5.Coillte Glasa a’ Triúcha                                         5.Mairgne fa Chaisleán na Glasdromainne

 6.Is Fada an Lá                                                         6.An Chailleach Riabhach

 7.Marbhna Airt Óig Ui Néill                                    7.Is Fada an Lá

 8.Thugamar Féin an Samhradh Linn                        8.An Chúileann Donn             

 9.Éirigh Suas, a Stóirín                                            9.Séamus Mac Murfaidh

10.Uilleagan Dubh Ó                                               10.Seán Gabha

11.Máire Bhán                                                           11.Patrún Chill Shléibhe

12.Cailín as Contae Lú                                             12.Faidear mo Mhuirnín Fháinnigh

13.Amhrán na Craoibhe                                           13.Na Briathra Beacht   

14.Bidí Ni Mhaoldúin                                               14.Margadh an Iúir   


Many of the recorded songs are featured on the  ORIEL ARTS website here on video with words/translation/information accessed on each page. The lyrics and translations of the other songs are included below with detailed information for all songs in A Hidden Ulster – people songs and traditions of Oriel (Four Courts Press)


Ceoltaí Oirialla  – Songs of Oriel  CD 1

TRACK LISTING CD 1  – with instrumental accompaniment

 1.An Seanduine Dóite: This is a comic song in which a young wife is lamenting the lack of vim and vigour in the old man – her husband.

Musicians: Steve Cooney, guitar; Laoise Kelly, harp.


2.An Bonnán Buí : The poet, who is fond of drink, identifies with the bird who died on a frozen lake from thirst

Musicians: Liam O’Flynn, uileann pipes and whistle; Steve Cooney, guitar and keyboards.

          CLICK HERE

3.Ailí Gheal Chiúin: This is a courtly elegant harp-song in praise of a patron. It was written by Séamus Dall Mac Cuarta of Omeath in County Louth.

Musicians: Helen Davies, harp.

          CLICK HERE

4.Tá ‘na Lá: This song lightly laments that it is time to stop drinking and head for home.

Musicians: Laoise Kelly, harp; Liam Ó Maonlaí, bodhrán; Steve Cooney, guitar.

         CLICK HERE                             

5.Coillte Glasa a’ Triúcha: This is another courtly harp-song written in praise of a young woman. It is by harper, Molaí Nic Ghiolla Fhiondáin who wrote it on behalf of her brother who was in love with the young woman.

Musicians: Séamus & Manus Maguire, fiddles, Jackie Daly, accordion; Garry Ó Briain, keyboards and mandocello; Adele O’Dwyer, cello.

          CLICK HERE

6.Is Fada an Lá: This is a lament by a young woman who has a child and is abandoned by her lover, who marries a woman of cattle and wealth. It is an older song type.

Musician:   Pat Crowley, piano.

          CLICK HERE

7. Marbhna Airt Óig Ui Néill: This lament was written by the poet Art Mac Cumhaigh for Art O’Neill one of the last of the Gaelic Irish aristocracy who was his contemporary in south Armagh and who died in 1769   

Musicians: Liam O’Flynn, uileann pipes and whistle; Steve Cooney, keyboard and shruti.

          CLICK HERE

8.Thugamar Féin an Samhradh Linn: This is a well known song of summer and one of the oldest songs in the tradition, here with a unique version of the melody.

Musicians: Steve Cooey, guitar; Liam O’Flynn, whistle; Odhrán Ó Casaide, fiddles, Máire Breatnach, viola.

          CLICK HERE

9. Éirigh Suas, a Stóirín : This is a poignant love song and is also found in the Donegal Gaeltacht.

Musician: Steve Cooney, guitar

          CLICK HERE

10. Uilleagan Dubh Ó: This is a stylish love song, probably composed for harp accompaniment, written by the poet Peadar Ó Doirnín from Forkhill in County Armagh.

Musician: Steve Cooney, guitar


11. Máire Bhán: This is a love song telling of all the gifts and delights that will be bestowed upon his lover, if only she would run away with him

Musician:    Steve Cooney , guitar

          CLICK HERE

12. Cailín as Contae Lú: The air is quite unusual for this song about a young County Louth lass who disdains the amorous advances of a County Down cobbler

Musicians:  Helen Davies, harp; Odhrán Ó Casaide, fiddle; Steve Cooney, shruti.

          CLICK HERE

13. Amhrán na Craoibhe: This is another song unique to the Oriel tradition. It is very unusual and is connected to the rituals of the summer garland.

Musicians:  Steve Cooney, Guitar, shruti; Liam Ó Maonlaí, whistle; Odhrán Ó Casaide, fiddle; Liam O’Flynn, whistle, Rónán Ó Snodaigh, percussion; Máire Breatnach, viola.

          CLICK HERE

14. Bidí Ni Mhaoldúin: This is a macaronic or bilingual, well crafted light song, in praise of Biddy Muldoon.

Musicians:  Steve Cooney, guitar; Helen Davies, harp; Odhrán Ó Casaide, fiddle; Liam O’Flynn, whistle; Rónan Ó Snodaigh, percussion.

          CLICK HERE

Ceoltaí Oirialla   – Songs of Oriel  CD 2

TRACK LISTING CD2  – unaccompanied sean-nós singing

1.Na Gamhna Geala: This is a song which has versions throughout Ireland. The young girl laments being away from home and hearth, while hired to work attending the calves, among strangers.


 2.An Bhean Chaointe: This song is unique to Oriel, it is in the keening tradition, in which a woman laments the death of her last living child.

           CLICK HERE    

3.Dúlamán: This is a light hearted song about seaweed and those who sell it in Newry market.


4.Úirchill a’ Chreagáin: This is an iconic Oriel song written by the poet Art Mac Cumhaigh. It is an invitation by a visionary woman to go to the land of milk and honey. The poet responds as to why he cannot leave.

          CLICK HERE  

5.Mairgne fa Chaisleán na Glasdromainne: This is another song by the poet Art Mac Cumhaigh. In this he laments the loss of the O’Neill chieftains and the destruction of their castle in Glasdrumman.

          CLICK HERE  

6.An Chailleach Riabhach: This is a conundrum of a song and may be mocking some local people who had notions above their station. There has been an alternative air to the lyrics.

          CLICK HERE           

7.Is Fada an Lá : This is an unaccompanied version of the song on CD1. In this song the young woman who has a child, laments that she is abandoned by her lover, who marries a woman of cattle and wealth. It is an older song type.

          CLICK HERE 

8.An Chúileann Donn: The mother advises the young daughter not to marry any or the local tradesmen and gives the many the reasons for her advice. The daughter is having none of it.


9.Séamus Mac Murfaidh: This song laments the loss of the Jacobite hero who was betrayed by a jealous woman.

          CLICK HERE            

10.Seán Gabha: This is a unique song and probably was part of a ritual – most likely as part of wake games. It is chant like and of an older song type

          CLICK HERE

11.Pátrún Chill Shléibhe: This is a song lamenting the destruction of the local pattern at the well of St Moninne/Blinne in Killeavy. It has an unusual melody and probably very old in form.


12.Fá Dear mo Mhuirnín Fháinnigh : This is a humourous song about a man who was punished for straying onto what the other man regarded as his ‘property’ i.e his wife. It is reminiscent of a Scottish work song with vocables.

          CLICK HERE

13.Na Briathra Beacht: This is a contention between a man and his wife about the virtues and evil of drink. It is in a chant like song form, recitative and declamatory. It was written by Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Gunna who wrote An Bonnán Buí in CD1 and is probably imitating the chant like scolding of his wife in the song.


14.Margadh an Iúir: This is a light hearted dance song about the goings on at Newry Market.

          CLICK HERE     

©Oriel Arts 2017


Additional Song Lyrics CD 1 & 2


(see A Hidden Ulster pp.131-4)


Chuir mé mo sheanduine go tír na hóige,

Tháinig sé abhaile tinn lag breoite;

Chuir mé ar an fhoradh é ag iarraidh sócúil,

Thit sé ’na chodladh is ’dhath dheamhan d(h)eoir ann.


Horó ’sheanduine, ’sheanduine dhóite,

Má théid tú ’un a’ dorais nár b(h)eire mé beo ort,

Oró ’sheanduine, ’sheanduine dhóite,

Is mairg a cailleadh an croí a bhí óg leat.


Chuir mé mo sheanduine ag foghlaim damhsa,

Tháinig sé abhaile ina mháistir fancy;

Thug mise scilling ar phionta braindí,

D’ól sé sin uaim agus bainne na ngamhna.


Dá bhfaigheadh mo sheanduine gach ní mar is cóir dó,

Greim beag ime a’s greim beag feola,

Gloine ar maidin agus gloine tráthnóna,

Bhainfeadh sé sodar as cailíní óga.


Dá mbeadh sin agam each agus diallait,

Srian maith crúb agus béalmhach iarainn,

Chuirfinnse an seanduine amach insna ciantaí,

Bhéarfainnse scafaire abhaile sa diallait.


Horó ’sheanduine, ’sheanduine dhóite,

Má théid tú ’un a’ dorais nár b(h)eire mé beo ort,

Óró ’sheanduine, ’sheanduine dhóite,

Cúradh ’gus milleadh ’gus céad míle brón ort.


The Wasted Old Man


I sent my old man to the land of youth,

He came home wasted, sick and weak;

I put him up on the loft to get some ease,

He fell asleep without one drop o’ drink.


Hóró* my wasted old man, old man,

If you go to the door may I not catch you alive;

Óró my wasted old man, old man,

Alas a young heart was wasted on you.


I sent my old man to learn to dance,

He came home as a fancy master;

I gave a shilling for a pint of brandy,

He drank that on me, and the milk of the calves.


If my old man got all that he aught to,

A wee bite of butter and a wee bite of meat;

A glass in the morning and a glass at night,

He would put a spring in the young girls’ leap.


If I only had a horse and a saddle

A good gripped rein and an iron horsebit;

I would send my old man out into the distance,

And I’d bring home a sprightly lad in the saddle.


Hóró my wasted old man, old man,

If you go to the door may I never catch you;

Óró my wasted old man, old man

Curse and destruction, and a hundred sorrows upon you.


Edited & Translation: P. Ní Uallacháin




(see A Hidden Ulster pp. 238-40)

I ndún a chois coilleadh ag imeall na trá,

Tá snua an aoil úir mar an rós

I ngnúis an linbh nár milleadh a’s is áille,

Cúl na lúb mar an ór.

Ar chinneamhain Leánder ní tharraingfí scríobh,

Nó ar Helen an ucht bhláithghil le’r sárscriosadh an Traí,

Dá mbeadh ’fhios ag cách go mbeadh mo ghrá-sa sa tír seo

Ina huilleagán gan bhrón.


Is binne mo leanbh míle uair ná an Daghda

Is a thrí mic ciúil dá mbeadh beo,

Nó na siansa úd ’sheinneadh Mac Manair ar a chláirsigh

Na faoilte le múchtaí an brón.

Is ionann is an samhradh gach geimhreadh gan ghaoith,

Agus tuilte de gach arbhar le leamhnacht is fíon;

Fó mhullaigh is fó ghleanntaibh an uile aimsir mar mbíonn sí,

M’uilleagán gan bhrón.


Is aoibhinn ceiliúr agus seinm na n-éan beag

Fó choilltibh dlúthchaoimh cnó,

Agus siansa na n-inbhear is a bhfoireannn d’éiscibh

Ag brúchtadh d’oíche is de ló.

Is meanmach gan angar gach clann mhac is níon,

A bhfearaibh is a mbantracht ag rabhadh fa aoibh,

Is an mhil ag teacht ó neamh an uile aimsir sa tír

A mbíonn m’uilleagán dubh ó.


A shiúr mhaoth mhilis, dá mb’fhiosach dhuit mar atá mé

Mo dhúscadh d’oíche is de ló,

I gcumha lán tuirse a’s mé ag titim i ngrá leat,

Ó shiúlfá an saol liom, a stór.

Ach mur’ dtiocfaidh tú, glac peann in am agus scríobh

Litir dom ionsaí ina sloinnfear leat síos,

Nach orm ’luíos d’ansacht, do ghreann nó do mhian

Is nach tú m’uilleagán níos mó.


Dark Beautiful Maiden O


In a house by the grove at the edge of the shore,

There’s a face, fair and white as the rose

In the maid’s complexion, unblemished and perfect,

With hair in curled tresses like gold.

On the fate of Leander no one would compose,

Or the white-bosomed Helen for whom Troy was destroyed,

If all knew that my love was here without sorrow

As a beautiful maiden O.


My darling’s a thousand times sweeter than the Daghda

And his three sons of song, had they lived,

Or that music of Manair’s own son on his harpstrings,

Whose strains all sorrow would still.

Each stormless winter and summer are one

With crops in abundance, flow milk and flow wine;

By hilltop and glens when she’s here without sorrow,

My beautiful maiden O.


How pleasant the singing and warbling of young birds

In woods bowed heavy with nuts,

And the streams as the gush, all teeming with fish

Overflowing by day and by night;

Lively, not wanting, are their daughters and sons,

Their menfolk and women all sporting in fun,

Honey pours from the heavens when e’re she’s around

My beautiful dark maiden O.


My sweet tender one, if you knew how I am,

Awakened by day and by night,

In a lonesome full sorrow as in love I fall with you,

With me, love, you’d walk through this life.

If you don’t come in time take a fine pen and write

A letter to me that is signed by yourself

Saying your love and desire is no longer mine,

My beautiful maiden no more.




(see A Hidden Ulster pp. 298-300)


Siad mo chuid gamhna, na gamhna geala,

Itheann siad an féar glas ’s chan ólann siad an bainne,

Téann siad anonn a’s anall thar a’ bharra,

Is chan fhearr leo an trághadh ann nó barr a’ láin mhara.


Mál álí aléo ’s mo bhrónsa na gamhna,

Mál álí aléo sé mo bhrónsa na gamhna,

Maidin dhubh fhómhair nó coineascar a’ tsamhraidh,

Is deas mar a sheolfainn na gamhna geala.


Is beag mo dhúil i gcupaí nó i gcártaí,

I bhfuinneogaí gloine nó i ’riúintí bána,

Míle uair go mb’fhearr liom agam cró beag sa tsamhradh,

Poll a bheith sna scrathaibh is mé ’g amharc ar na gamhna.


Dá mbeadh siad agam meadar nó buarach,

Cuinneog mhaith fhairsing ’na leapadh an t-uachtar.

Bheinn ag ga’áil eatarthu leis na buaibh tuata,

’S bheinn ag seoladh na ngamhna go gleanntán na luachra.


Bheirim mo mhallacht don tsagart a phós mé,

’S an darna mallacht don bhaile bhuí mhór seo,

Chan a’ cur maoil ar chartaí a chleacht mé ’dtús m’óige,

Ach ag rinc’ ar an tamhnaigh is na gamhna á seoladh.


Charbh fhearr liomsa flocas fúm ná ’n luachair,

Charbh fhearr liomsa ribíní bheith agam ná an buarach,

Ceoltaí ’n domhain dá seinnfí ’steach ’mo chluasaibh iad,

Och ba bhinne liomsa géimneach na ngamhna insa bhuailidh.


The White Calves


My calves are the white calves,

They eat the green grass but they don’t drink the milk,

They go back and forth across the sand bar,

And they’d rather the high tide to the ebbtide.


Mál-ál-aleó* my sorrow the calves,

Mál-álí-aleó my sorrow the calves,

A dark autumn morning or a summer’s evening,

How pleasantly I’d drive my bright calves.


I little care for cups and for quarts,

For glass windows and whitewashed rooms,

But I would a thousand times rather have a little bothy in the summer,

A hole in the thatch and me watching the calves.


If I had a bucket or spancel of my own,

A big broad churn where the cream would be slurping,

I would go at milking time with the dairy cows,

And drive the calves to the rushy glens.


My curse upon the priest who married me,

And may the second curse fall upon this old town,

It wasn’t filling quarts that I spent my youth,

But dancing on the grassy uplands while driving the calves.


I’d rather the rushes than a bed of flock beneath me,

I’d choose a spancel than ribbons to have,

All the songs of the world if played in my ears,

Sweeter to me, in the booleys, is the lowing of the calves.


Edited & Translation: P. Ní Uallacháin




(see A Hidden Ulster pp. 59-64)


A níon mhín ó, sin anall na fir shuirí!

A mháthair mhín ó, cuir mo roithleán go dtí mé!


Dúlamán na binne buí, dúlamán Gaelach,

Dúlamán na binne buí, dúlamán Gaelach.


Tá bearad agus triús’ ar a’ dúlamán Gaelach;

Tá dhá chluais mhaol’ ar a’ dúlamán Gaelach.


Rachamuinn* ’n an Iúir leis a’ dúlamán Gaelach;

Ceanno(cha)idh mé bróga daor’, ars’ a’ dúlamán Gaelach.


Bróga breaca dubha ar a’ dúlamán Gaelach;

Bearad agus triús’ ar a dúlamán Gaelach.


Tá bróga ’s stocaí úr ar mo dhúlamán Gaelach;

Tá boinéid agus triús’ ar mo dhúlamán Gaelach.


Tá ceann buí óir ar a’ dúlamán Gaelach;

Síoda agus seoda ar a’ dúlamán Gaelach.


‘Goidé rug tusa ’un na tíre?’ ars’ a’ dúlamán Gaelach.

‘A’ súirí le do níon,’ ars’ a’ dúlamán Maorach.


‘Chan fhaigheann tú mo níon,’ ars’ a’ dúlamán Gaelach.

‘Maise gheobhaidh mé do níon agus fuadó(cha)idh mé liom í.’


Dúlamán na binne buí, dúlamán a’ tsléibhe;

Dúlamán na farraige, is dúlamán a’ Déididh.




My dear daughter, here come the courting men!

My dear mother, put my spinning wheel beside me!


Seaweed from the yellow cliff, the native seaweed,

Seaweed from the yellow cliff, the native seaweed.


There’s a cap and trousers on the native seaweed;

The native seaweed has two bare ears.


We will go to Newry with the native seaweed;

I’ll buy expensive shoes says the native seaweed.


There are black speckled shoes on the native seaweed;

The native seaweed has a cap and plaid.


There are new shoes and socks on the native seaweed;

The native seaweed has a bonnet and a plaid.


There’s a golden yellow head on the native seaweed

The native seaweed has silk and jewels.


‘What brought you here?’ says the native seaweed.

‘Flirting with your daughter,’ says the shellfish seaweed.


‘You won’t get my daughter,’ says the common seaweed.

‘Indeed and I will get her and I will abduct her.’


Seaweed from the yellow cliff, the mountain seaweed,

Seaweed from the sea, and seaweed from Déididh.


Edited & Translation: P. Ní Uallacháin




(see A Hidden Ulster pp. 65-9)


A níon, ná pós a’ gabha – bíonn a léine salach,

Bíonn an gual ina éadan is bíonn a mhéar sa teallach.


Heigh for the cailleach bán, aníos, anonn, ’s anaindí;

Heigh for the cúileann donn, I’m sure she got her fancy.


Pósfaidh mise an gabha, pósfaidh an gabha mise,

Nífidh mise a léine is dhéanfaidh sé fhéin an obair

A níon, ná pós a’ gréasaí – giolla na leathar lofa,

Bíonn a shúile in airde is rachas le cosa nochta.


Pósfaidh mise an gréasaí is pósfaidh an gréasaí mise,

Dhéanfaidh sé mo bhróga is beidh siad in ordú agam.


A níon, ná pós a’ táilliúir – bíonn sé a’ stráchaíl beadaí,

Bíonn sé amuigh san oíche ag ól le mná fir eile.


Pósfaidh mise an táilliúr is pósfaidh an tailliúir mise,

Dhéanfaidh sé mo chlóca is beidh sé réidh san fhaisean.


A níon, ná pós a’ fíodóir – bíonn sé a choíche ar easpa,

A dhá sháil sa ghríosaigh a’ frás le scríobadh an scilléid.


Pósfaidh mise an fíodóir is pósfaidh an fíodóir mise,

Nuair a rachaidh mé ’un a’ mhargaidh beidh orm coc is ribín.


The Brown-haired Beauty


Daughter, don’t marry the blacksmith – for his shirt is dirty,

There’s coal in his face and his fingers in the fire.


Hi for the whitehaired hag, up an’ out an’ andy

Hi for the brown-haired beaut’, I’m sure she got her fancy


I will marry the blacksmith and he will marry me,

Iwill wash his shirt and then he will do the labour.


Daughter, don’t marry the shoemaker – a slave to the smelly leather,

He’s always on the lookout and will go about barefooted.


I will marry the shoemaker and he will marry me,

He will make my shoes and I will wear them proper.


Daughter, don’t marry the tailor – for all he does is swagger,

He goes out at night and drinks with other men’s women.


I will marry the tailor and he will marry me,

He will make my cloak, which will be in the fashion.


Daughter, don’t marry the weaver – he is always needy,

His two heels in hot ashes, watching the skillet scrapings.


I will marry the weaver and he will marry me,

And when I’m at the market, I’ll wear cockade and ribbons.


Edited & Translation: P. Ní Uallacháin




(see A Hidden Ulster pp. 307-18)


Chuaigh mé féin ar mo chois go Cill Shléibhe,

Nuair a chuala(idh) mé an éagóir a rinneadh ann,

D’fhiosraigh mé don mhaighdean ghléigil,

Caidé an tréas úd a rinneadh ann.


’Sé labhair an mhaighdean liomsa go céillí,

‘Le ceithre céad déag tá mé anseo ar bun, I

n áit eaglais Ghaelach a bheith fá mo dhéinse,

Beidh neadracha ag éanlaith anois ós ár gcionn.


Ach ab é chomh géar is atá an dlí ’nár n-aghaidh,

Bheimis(t) ’gá leadráil ó thom go tom,

Le máthair an airne bheimis(t) ’gá gcarnadh,

Is áit an phátrúin go mbeadh sa ghleann.


Scrios an ard-rí atá os mo chionn in airde,

Más cóir domh ráite, go dtige ar an dream,

Is ar fhear an tí bháin atá ina chónaí láimh linn,

’Sé ’chuir ár bpátrún bunoscionn.’


Déanaigí foighid mhór, a chlann na nGael,

Go dtiocfaidh an cléibhín atá thall anall.

Dhéanfaidh sé réiteach ar fud Chill Shléibhe,

Agus beidh ár bpléisiúr arís(t) ar bun.


Beidh mná is páistí ag déanamh crábhaidh,

Mar bhíodh sa tseanreacht atá ’bhfad ar bun.

Beidh mur bpátrún ar ball mar ’ghnách leis,

Ar an lá sin d’ordaigh Naomh Blinne ann.


Killeavy Pattern


I went myself on foot to Killeavy,

When I heard the injustice that happened there,

I enquired from the fairest maiden,

What treason had been committed here.


The maiden now spoke in all good sense,

‘For fourteen hundred years I have been here,

Instead of a native church around about me,

The birds will be nestling above our heads.’


Only for the laws so harsh against us,

We would be going from bush to bush,

The blackthorn blossom we would be gathering,

And the pattern in the glen would have its place.


The curse of the high king who is above me –

If that is right for me to say – on those

And on the owner of the white house nearby,

Who turned our pattern upside down.‘


Have great patience now, Irish people,

Until our kinsman returns again.

He will bring peace about Killeavy,

And we will have our pleasure once again.


Women and children will make devotion,

As was once the old order for many years.

Your pattern will be again restored,

On the day St Blinne ordered so long ago.


Edited & Translation: P. Ní Uallacháin




(see A Hidden Ulster pp.


A’ gcluin tú mé, a Chathail Bhuí, tá an bás fá fhad téide duit?

Ní thig leat a ghabháil ’un spairne go brách leis ar shliabh nó muir;


Ní choinneo(cha)idh mná an tábhairne beo thú le briathra ar bith,

Tionntaigh ar an Ardrí is gheobhaidh tú pardún as ar éirigh duit.


Níl am ar bith is fearr is is cráifí dá mbím ins a’ bhliain,

Ná an uair ’ólaim mo sháith, bím a’ gárthadh is a’ screadadh ar Dhia;


Is an uair nach mbíonn cárt den digh lán agam teastaidh mo chiall,

Is déantar croí crua i mo lár mar charn mór cloch ar a’ tsliabh.


Tiocfaidh an t-am a mbeidh tú go fann ’do luí ’sa gclúid,

Nuair a chaillfeas tú gan amhras do chaint is amharc do shúl;


Dar liomsa go mb’fhearr beagán a thaisce ar dtús

Ná an t-iomlán a chaitheamh ’un siúil.


Stad thusa, a bhean udaí a chanas na briathra beacht’;

Ní thuigeann tú mo ghalra is is leannán domh choíche an tart;


Nuair a (t)chímse na gloiní is na siléir i bhfad uaim isteach,

’Sé deir mo mhuineál buí ‘is cineálta d’ólfainn deoch’.


Nach crua an chinniúin a cinneadh domh i dtús mo shaoil,

Gurb ansa leat a’ mheisce ná mise is mo pháistí maoth’;


Ní dhearna tú ciste ná cruinneas i dtús do ré,

Is ní bheidh agat brailín tráth shínfear thú i gcónra chaol.


Is amhlaidh mar tá sin – ní fearr liomsa gearán is caoine’

Ag gabháil romham ’un a’ teampaill ná cláirseach, fidil is píob’;


In éiric a ndearna mé de phráisc is de chuideachta daoibh,

Ólaidh bhur sáith an lá sin is déanaidh féin a’ reicneáil a íoc.


The Perfect Words


Do you hear me, Cathal Buí,* you’re a rope’s length from death?

You can never contend with it – on mountain nor on sea;


No words from the alehouse women will keep you alive,

Turn to the High King, who will pardon you for all that did arise.


Throughout the year I’m seldom more pious or devout

Than when I drink my fill; I then shout and cry aloud to God;


And whenever I’m without a measure full, my senses dissipate,

My heart hardens in my breast like a heap of mountain rock.


The time will come, when you in feebleness will languish in the corner;

When you will lose your speech and sight, no doubt;


I think it would far better be, to first store up a little

Than to throw it all out.


Cease now woman there, who chants the perfect words;

You know little of my disease – that drink is my life’s love;


When I see the glasses and cellars beyond there leading in,

My parched neck cries out: ‘How I’d love a drink.’


How hard this destiny, once destined for me in my early life –

That you should love the drink more than your children or your wife;


You saved and stored nothing in all your youthful days,

And you will have no winding sheet as you lie on narrow boards.


That may be so – I prefer not the wailing and bemoaning

Before me on the road to church, than pipes and fiddle and flute;


In compensation for all my wantonness and time ill-spent,

Drink your fill on that day – and pay the reckoning yourselves.


Edited & Translation: P. Ní Uallacháin ©

Oriel Arts © 2020