Luan a’ tSléibhe

Background

see A Hidden Ulster pp. 324-7319-23 for detailed references and information

The title, Monday on the Mountain means The Day of Judgement. The air is one simple melodic line repeated.

Religious songs and the keening tradition

This is one of a number of religious songs found in the Oriel tradition which is also found in the Donegal song tradition. There was an active keening tradition in the region within living memory. The religious songs such as this one and Amhrán na Páise (AHU pp319-323) were closely associated with the keening tradition and often replaced the formal keening, as songs of lamentation sung at wakes and during Lent. Most of the songs were on the theme of Christ’s passion and the grief of his mother, Mary.  This song is a supplication to Jesus through his mother, with whom the ordinary people identified and who was regarded as one of their own (AHU pp.325-7).

Women were the main source of these songs and they were deeply spiritual. One singer was described as,

Bean a chonnaic gach aon rud sa síorraidheacht agus nach bhfaca sa tsaoghal grandha seo acht na riachtanaidhe. Mar a dubhairt sí í féin: ‘Cha rabh ar a tsaoghal seo acht ceo acht má théidheann an ceo seo i dtairbhe duit ar do astar go flaithis Dé, bhal glóir do Dhia ar a shon’

‘A woman who saw every thing in terms of eternity and only saw in this awful life but the necessities. As she herself said: ‘Life was but a mist but if that mist was to ones advantage in the journey to God’s heaven, well glory be to God for that’ (AHU p. 396).

There were a number of singers associated with the singing of religious songs, known as ‘dántaí’ or ‘dáns’ and were were a distinct category of song distinct from secular traditional song, sung mainly during Lent. Sarah/Sally Humphries and Susan McGlade were among the most significant sources of religious songs. Through translation of their family and married names, and variants of their first names, they are occasionally confused with one another (AHU pp.394-97). They were from the Lislea and Killeavy area of south Armagh and were mostly known for their repertoire of religious songs.

‘Irish was the language of the spirit…’

Although Irish was not spoken in the community towards the end of their lives, accounts are given of these songs of lamentation being sung during Lent and that they prayed in Irish and blessed each other in Irish, as if the English was an inadequate medium for expressing emotion and intimacy, ‘unnatural to the tongue and lacking power and precision’ (AHU p. 396f).

Storyteller Mary Nugent Dromintee

Storyteller: Mary Nugent Dromintee c.1940. © A Hidden Ulster & Oriel Arts 2017

Collector Tommy Hollywood noted that Sally Humphries, ’only spoke Irish occasionally as English had taken hold in the district. She went to school locally in Maphoner, and she told him that her parents both had little English and that all their praying was done in Irish together with the singing of the mournful laments throughout Lent.’(AHU p 396).

The collector Michael J. Murphy noted that Mary Nugent of Dromintee and other old people ‘use Irish to express thoughts when under stress of some emotion.’ (AHU p. 396 f). On Sarah McGlade’s deathbed ‘came another old woman from the mountain, an Irish speaker also a friend of their early days. They saluted each other in Irish and having conversed for a while, blessed each other in Irish and parted forever.’ (AHU 395-6).The last of the Irish speakers would go about their daily lives through the medium of English but for Sarah McGlade and Sally Humphries ‘Irish was the language of the spirit between herself and her God’ (AHU p.396)

Religious songs as treasure

Sarah McGlade (AHU 394-7) was noted for her great store of religious songs, and many collectors visited her. She held her store of songs as treasure to be respected and cherished and didn’t part easily with the songs. One local collector, Tomás Ó Cuilleannáin (Tommy Hollywood) from Mullaghban remarked while he was collecting songs from her in 1908:

‘Thug mé cuairt ar Shorcha. Bhí daoine eile ann ar lorg na Gaedhilge roimhe liom. Chuir sí an ruaig orra. Dubhairt siad liom nach dtabharfadh sí cead damh dul isteach – go raibh sí go hiontach nimhneach crosta. Char ghéill mé dha dtarraingearacht. Chuaidh mé chuici agus thug sí cead damhsa dul isteach. Cha dtug mé fios fatha mo ghnoithe dí go raibh mé tamall beag astoigh. Chuir mé i gcéill dí gur rugadh agus tógadh ins a pharoiste mé agus go rabh deirbhshiur de mo chuid ’na múinteor sa pharóiste. Ba mhór an choispeán ar aghaidh damhsa an sgéal sin mar bhí aithne aici uirri. Bhí fhios agam go rabh Soraca cráibhtheach agus ar an adhbhar go rabh ainm na cháibhtheachta ar mo dheirbhsiur, shaol mé go racadh an cráibhtheacht sin i dtairbhe damh. [ ..]‘An bhfuil dánta diadhanta agat?’ Ar a bpointe boise dubhairt sí go rabh agus go raibh sí sásta a rabh aici a thabhairt damh. Annsin dinnis sí an sgéal mar gheall ar na buachaillí eile. Chuaidh siad isteach chuici gan ‘Dia Duit’ nó ‘Dia is Muire duit’ a rádh agus d’fhiafruigh siad dí: ‘Have you any oul cráibhtheach songs’? Shaol sí gur buachaillí dí mhúinteacha droch mheasa iad agus nach rabh an oiread de urraim aca ar na dántaibh cráibhtheacha is ba chóir. Sin an fath gur chuir sí an ruaig orra


‘I visited Sarah. There were others looking for Irish before me. She had chased them. They told me that she was very sharp and cross. I didn’t give in to their predictions. I went to her and she let me in. I didn’t tell her the cause of my visit until I was there a little while. I let her know that I was born and reared in the parish and that my sister was a teacher in the parish. That was a great step ahead for me, as she knew her. I knew that Sally was religious and as my sister had the reputation for being religious too, I thought that piety would be to my advantage […].  ‘Have you any religious dantaí’? Straight away she said she had and that she was happy to give me what she had. Then she told me of the other lads. They went in without greeting her with ‘God be with you’ or ‘God and Mary with you’ and asked her (in English): ‘Have you any oul’ cráibhtheach (religious) songs’? She thought them bad-mannered and discourteous and lacking the respect that they should have had for the dántaí. That was why she chased them. (AHU p. 396)

©Oriel Arts 2017

Transmission

The edited words are from the two sources, and the air interpreted from music manuscript by Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, who also sings it on video above.

The air was noted in tonic solfa in the hand of the collector Lorcán Ó Muirí (AHU pp. 358-60), and some verses of the words are among his handwritten manuscripts.  It was collected in Omeath but he does not name the source.

Words

Enrí Ó Muireasa

Collector: Enrí Ó Muiríosa (AHU pp.363-5) © A Hidden Ulster & Oriel Arts 2017

Sources:

  • ‘Luan an tSléibhe’, p.125 Dánta Diagha Uladh, p.125. Verses from Co Cavan from Eoghan Mac Giolla Chomhghaill (Owen Coyle)
  • ‘Luan a’ tSléibhe’, Lorcán Ó Muirí mss. Ó Fiach Library Armagh
  • A version was also collected from a singer Owen Coyle, in County Cavan by the collector Enrí Ó Muiríosa (AHU pp.363-5)

Luan a’ tSléibhe

’Sé Luan a’ tsléibhe Luan a’ léirscrios’,
An Luan a mbeidh muid uilig faoi bhrón,
Titfidh an taer anuas ’na chaorthach’,
Lasfaidh an spéir is beidh an mhuir gá dóghadh.

Ar an treas béic de chlog mhic Dé
Go néireochaidh gach créatur dá bhfuil marbh beo,
Is gach colainn daonna dá fhad ó chéile,
Beidh a hanam féin inti ar chnoc na ndeor.

Tiocfaidh an DeaMhac chun ceart a dhéanamh,
Is ansin a bheas na pointí cruaidhe,
Ina shuí ar bhinse os cionn Shíol Éabha,
Ár gcóir á léamh is ár naghaidh air suas.

Tiocfaidh ’n Mhaighdean dheas bhanúil bhéasach,
Crapfaidh an téideadh agus nochfaidh a glún,
‘A mhic, nach mé féin a d’oil ar an tsaol thú,
Nach iad seo na séadanna dá raibh tú ’diúl?

Nach iad seo na mallroisc a shil ’do dhiaidhse,
Agus iad seo na céibheannaí úd a thit ’na ndual,
Nach iad seo na méara a nigh do chréachta,
’S a mhic, ná tréig mé is mé faoi ghruaim.

D’iompair mé thú in mo bhroinn trí ráithe,
’S an oíche dhéanach ’s gan aon bhean ’mo chuairt,
Chan i gcaisléan gléigeal mar a sheinneann éanlaith
Ach i máinséar na nasal caol dubh cúng.

Shúil mé sléibhte faoi bhrón ’s faoi léan leat,
Ag seachnadh Herod is mé lag gan lúth.’
Leabhar faoi shéala a rinneadh in aon toisc
Ó cruthaíodh an créatúr go dteachaigh san uaigh.

‘Bhail,’ ar seisean, ‘i ngó no i gceart,
Ní ligfidh mé aon neach ar mian liom uaim.
Bhail, a mhátháir, tá ’n tsíocháin déanta,
Tabhair leat an méid seo a bhfuil do dhúil.’

The Last Day

Monday on the mountain, the Monday of devastation,
A Monday which will leave us all in sorrow;
The air will fall in showers of fire,
The sky will be alight and the sea ablaze.

On the third call of the Son of God’s bell
All who have died will rise again,
And each body however far from the other
Will have its’ soul again on the hill of tears.

Her only Son will come in justice,
And it’s there will be sore accountability;
Sitting on a bench above the seed of Eve,
Reading our misdeeds and our faces towards Him.

The modest mannered virgin will come
Raising her clothes and bending her knee;
“Son, was it not myself who brought you into this world
Are these not the breasts you have suckled ?

Are these not the eyes that wept for you
Is this not the hair that fell in curls,
And these the fingers which washed your wounds ?
Oh Son do not forsake me now in sorrow.

I carried you in my womb for three terms
The night was late and no woman by me;
It wasn’t in a bright castle where birds sing
But in a ass’s manger, narrow and dark.

I walked the mountains in sorrow and sadness with you
Avoiding Herod while I was weak and sick;”
This sealed book written for one purpose,
Since man was created until his dying day.

Well says he, from wrong and in right,
I will not forget anyone who has pleased me;
Beloved mother peace is made
Bring with you all whom you desire.”

(Translation: P. Ní Uallacháin)

©Oriel Arts 2017

Music

Source:

Lorcán Ó Muirí

Collector Lorcán Ó Muirí. (AHU pp. 358-60) © A Hidden Ulster @ Oriel Arts 2017

Air in tonic solfa handwritten by collector Lorcan Ó Muirí (Ó hUallacháin papers. AHU p. 326). The air is one simple melodic line repeated. It matches the lyrics which are in narrative form of long phrases.

Luan a tSléibhe - Lorcán Ó Muirí

Lorcán Ó Muirí handwritten manuscript of Oriel song copyright A Hidden Ulster and Oriel Arts

 

Lorcán Ó Muirí

Collector Lorcán Ó Muirí. (AHU pp. 358-60) © A Hidden Ulster & Oriel Arts 2017

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