(See A Hidden Ulster pp. 224-7 for detailed references and information)
There are anumber of songs are found in the tradition which mention the place name Triúcha (Trugh). Triúcha is a division of land and is a place name found in different counties including Louth and Monaghan. Trugh in County Monaghan is in the most northern part of the county and was an extended wooded area near Glaslough. The woods of Trugh like those of the Fews in Armagh have long since been felled.
This song is attributed to Molaí Nic Giolla Fhiondáin (also known as Máire), the daughter of the harper Pádraig Mac Giolla Fhiondáin. Local tradition had it that Molly, who was regarded as a righ chláírseoir – a superior harper (AHU p. 347), composed it on behalf of her brother Pádraig (óg) Mac Giolla Fhiondáin, using his name and addressing it to a young woman named (Nancy) McBride who lived in Thornfield in the parish of Kilkerley near Dundalk, and with whom he was in love.
Both Molaí Nic Giolla Fhiondáin and County Tyrone harper, Arthur Ó’Neill frequented the Plunkett House in Rocksavage near Iniskeen County Monaghan, and Molaí wrote a songs for the Plunketts in 1771 and 1775 (AHU p346-7). The Plunkett connection might well be the source of Arthur O’Neill acquiring the air, as he visited Rocksavage as well. He makes no mention in his memoirs of having met her.
The song was in the oral song tradition until recent times and was written down from singers in County Monaghan and County Armagh.
The air was a favourite with harpers. It was a set piece for the Granard Harp Festival at the end of the eighteenth century. The County Tyrone harper Arthur O’Neill won second prize at the Granard Harper’s Ball with this air in 1781and in 1782, for which he was given the sum of eight guineas. He had also won second prize playing the same air at the Belfast Harper’s Assembly of 1792. It was also played by Patrick Ward from Drogheda, who was a second source of the version published by Edward Bunting in 1809.
The song was in the oral song tradition until the turn of the 20th century, and was written down in County Monaghan from Eoghan Mac a’ Bháird in Farney, published in the Gaelic Journal in June 1895, having been written down from Mary Murphy in Newry. The Mullaghban collector, Tomás Mac Cuilleannáin also wrote down a version and printed it in a local newspaper, Dundalk Democrat 15 July 1905 (AHU p.422).
These are the sources of the edited lyrics in A Hidden Ulster and set again to the air which was sourced from Edward Bunting’s manuscripts. It was reassembled and renewed as a song by singer Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin in 1994, and first recorded on Gael Linn CD An Dara Craiceann. It was accompanied by the instrumental musicians: Séamus Maguire (fiddle) Manus Maguire (fiddle) Jackie Daly (accordion) and Garry Ó Briain (mandocello).
It is recorded on Ceoltaí Oirialla – Songs of Oriel CD 2017 with kind permission.
Nansaidh Bheag Mhilis: Dundalk Democrat, 30 Jan 1897 from Eoghan Mhac a’ Bháird, Farney.
Coillte Glasa an Triúcha: Gaelic Journal, June 1895, collected from Mary Murphy, Newry, by Joseph H. Lloyd.
A ógbhruinneall dheas na n-órfholt breá tais,
Ó, triall is bí ’teacht ’un an Triúcha,
Is go bhfuil mo chroí ’stigh ’gá shlad mar shnaidhmfí ar ghad,
Le bliain mhór, a shearc, is mo dhúil ort.
Ach dá bhfaighinnse an ceart is cead pósta leat,
Is éadrom, breá-gasta a shiúlfainn;
Is go bhfuil mo smaointe ag teacht ’un éaló leat, a shearc,
Go coilltibh breá glas an Triúcha.
’Sé mo chreach is mo chrá gan mé ar uaigneas seal lá,
’S gan neach ar bith le fáil ’na dhúscadh:
Na ﬁr is na mná bheith ’na gcodladh go sámh,
Is mise is mo ghrá bheith a’ súgradh.
A aon bhruinneall bhán is deise de na mnáibh,
A réalt eolais a bhfuil mo dhúil ort,
Cha chreidim go brách ó shagart nó ó bhráthair
Go bhfuil peacadh insan pháirt a dhúbailt.
Tá dhá chíoch chruinn’ ag mo Nansaí bheag mhilis
I gcompás a brollaigh ghléigil;
A com cailce mar an eala is a méara míne meala,
’S is ródheas a seinm ar théadaibh.
I bpátrún nó ’gcruinniú sháraigh tú an iomad,
’S is cráite mo chinniúin féin duit:
Grá a thabhairt do mhnaoi nach bhfágann mo chroí
’S nach bhfaighim í go deo(idh) le bréagnú.
A Nansaí na seod, is tú rogha na mban óg,
Is tú is deise dá bhfuil beo in Éirinn.
Gheall tú bheith romham ag coillidh ghlais na gcnó
Go gcuirﬁmist ár gcomhairle in éineacht.
Creid tusa, a stór, nach bhfuil peacadh insan domhan
Is measa ’gus is mó le déanamh,
Ná buachaill beag óg ’mhealladh le do phóg
Agus fealladh air go deo(idh) ’na dhiaidh sin.
Fair young girl of the lush-gold hair,
O, come now and journey to Trugh,
For my heart is strung out like a knot on a rope,
This long year, love, yearning for you.
If I had the right to be your spouse,
How light and swift would I move;
My thoughts, love, now stray on us running away,
To the ﬁne green woods of Trugh.
It’s my sorrow and pain we’re not alone for one day,
With none to be found awake there;
The men and their women all sleeping sound
And me and my love at play.
My only fair maiden, the ﬁnest of women,
My guiding star whom I long for;
I’ll believe not hereafter, from friar or brother
That it’s sinful to couple in love.
My sweet little Nancy has two round breasts,
Encompassing her fair white bosom;
Her swanlike fair waist and her honey-smooth ﬁngers,
How lovely their playing on harpstrings;
At patterns or gatherings you outshined so many
And my own fate with you is so cruel:
To love a lass who ne’er leaves my heart,
And I never will have her to woo her.
Nancy of the charms, you’re the choicest of girls
You’re the fairest in all of Éireann.
You promised to be among the nut-green trees,
So that we would join as one.
Believe me, I know, there’s no sin in this world,
More grievious than can be, a stór,
Than a young man entice, with your own embrace,
And deceive him forever, ever more.
Translation: Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin
This song by harper-poet Molaí Nic Giolla Fhiondáin, belongs to a genre of literary love songs which do not usually manifest a depth and sincerity of passion, but are elegantly and stylishly constructed. They are, as one collector described them, ‘one of those (songs) whose air, as I am told, is clearly intended for harp accompaniment, and that some of them contain ‘intrinsic evidence of having being composed for harp accompaniment’ ( AHU p. 218)
The source is Coillte Glasa an Triúcha: from Drogheda piper Patrick Ward and also from County Tyrone harper, Arthur O’Neill, published originally in Edward Bunting Ancient Music of Ireland (1809) 42.
See also below. D. O’Sullivan (ed.), ‘The Bunting Collection’, Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society 27, no. 100 but not the lyrics chosen by O’Sullivan.