see A Hidden Ulster pp. 207-10 doe detailed references and information
Maidin Fhómhair is the Oriel version of a well known song in the Ulster tradition and also found in Munster as Eochaill. The Munster version was popularised by the great sean-nós singer Nicholas Tóibín.
As it is much more common in the Ulster tradition, it is more likely to have originated there. The song mentions local placenames of Foughil – comprising the mountainous townlands of Foughiloutra and Foughilitra, – Dromintee and Longfield, which is adjacent to Forkhill.
It also mentions the illustrious name of O’Neill who held castles there in nearby Dungooley and Glasdrumman. The song scholar, Sean Ó Tuama classified this song type as a pastourelle, writing “which rarely attain a satisfactory literary quality but when sung to their appropriate airs impress as art songs of a very high quality” (AHU pp. 207-10).
It was collected from a Mullaghban woman called Mrs McCabe who lived in Dundalk when the collector Peadar Ó Dubhda met her.
Bláithín sings it in the above video, and it is now a firm favourite in her repertoire. She was brought up in the vicinity of the placenames mentioned in the song: Foughiloutra and Foughilitra, Dromintee, Longfield.
It was transmitted in a similiar way, lilted over the airwaves, to Oriel musicians Zoë Conway and John McIntyre who now play it as a slow air. They follow it with two tunes: Munster Buttermilk and the Swaggering Jig.
Zoë Conway and John McIntyre performing Oriel Music at Éigse Oirialla in Omeath, 2016
The words are an edited version of various local sources from Omeath , Dundalk and Crossmaglen. (AHUp. 210)
Maidin Fhóghmhair, Dundalk Democrat 19 December 1896; 29 Dec 1906
Maidin Fhóghmhar, Sean Ó hAnnáín Mss Ó Fiaich Library.
Eadar Feochaill agus Drom an Toighe, Ceolta Óméith 1920 from Mrs Duffy
Maidin fhómhair ar mo thriall go Feochaill,
cé chas sa ród orm ach stór mo chroí,
Bhí dhá ghrua aici mar rós an gharraí,
is ba bhinne a glór ná ceol na sí.
Leag mé mo lámh ar a brollach rógheal,
is d’iarr mé póigín ar stór mo chroí.
’Sé dúirt sí ‘stop is ná stróic mo chlóca,
níl fios mo nóisin ag fear ar bith’.
Bhí mé oíche taobh istigh d’Fhéil’ Bhríde,
is mé sínte síos le stór mo chroí,
Le geallaí breagach is le mionnaí móra
siar sa ród gur sheol me liom í.
Is cailín óg mé de chlann Uí Néill,
agus fuair mé comhairle gan a bheith i do luí,
Chuirfeá ‘un a’ bhaile mé gan fiú mo phósta
is nach bhfaighinn tigh mór ar bheagán cíos.
Ach seo mo lámh duit nach bhfuil mé pósta,
buachaill óg mé ’thug gean do mhnaoi,
Agus má thig tú liom ar mo thriall go Feochaill
go bhfaighidh tú omóid mar gheobhadh bean tí.
Chuirfinn high crown cap ort den fhaisiún ghallda,
háta, clóca is fáinne buí,
Siléar foscailte lán fíon’ agus pórtair,
agus do bhuachaill óg ’gabháil leat a luí.
Lean a máthair ’na déidh sa ród í,
gan a snáithe bróg uirthi ’s gruaig le gaoith,
Bhí an tairgead pósta léi ’na póca
agus go tigh an óil ’sea sheol mé í.
Bhí piúint agus braindí a’ gabháil thart im’ thimpeall,
mar olann Samhna a’ gabháil thart fán bhord,
Nuair a chorraigh an dream chuaigh an chailleach a’damhsa,
agus i gcorrach Leamhchoill do chaill sí bróg.
Ó rinneadh leaba(aidh) ar hallaí bana
le haghaidh mo théagar agus mise luí,
Bhuail me an bocsa orthu aos agus óg
agus cha dtéim go Feochaill nó go Droim a’ Tí.
Thug mé liom í go bruach na Bóinne
is thug mé móide go bpósfainn í,
Thug mé féirín di mar gheall le hór buí
agus bhuail mé an bóthar le mo stór san oíche.
One autumn morning on my way to Foughil,
who should I meet but my darling one.
Her two cheeks were like the garden rose,
her voice was sweeter than fairy song.
I lay my hand on her fair white breast,
and I asked my love for one small kiss.
She said: ‘Stop now and don’t tear my cloak
for no man knows of my impulse.’
It was one night around Brigids’ Day,
I was lying with my darling dear.
With great oaths and falso promises
along the road I did her lead.
‘I am a young girl of the Clan O’Neill
and I was advised not to lie in your bed,
You would send me home, nor even wed me
and I’d get no fine house at little rent.
Here is my hand that I am not married
I am a young man who loved a girl,
If you come with me, as I go to Foughil
you will be honoured there as a married one.
I’d put a high crowned cap of the latest fashion,
a hat, a cloak on you and a golden band.
An open cellar full of wine and porter,
while going to bed with your young man.
Her mothered followed her along the road
without no shoes on and her hair unkempt,
The marriage fee was in her pocket
and to the alehouse I with her went.
Pints and brandy were passing ‘round me
about the table, like November wool;
When the crowd it livened, the hag went dancing,
and in Longfield’s marsh she lost a shoe.
A bed was made in marbled halls
for me and my love to lie there,
And off in the boxcart I left young and old,
and to Foughil or Drumintee I’ll go no more.
I brought her with me to the banks of the Boyne
and I vowed that I would marry her.
I gave her a gift as a pledge for gold
and I took off at night with my darling girl.
Translation: P. Ní Uallacháin
This version of the air is sourced from the the one published in The Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society 7 (p.17-18. ed. 1967) entitled Farewell To Erin also known as Youghal Harbour. It was collected from a County Armagh singer, Henry Donnelly, who was living in Glasgow. It is a more complete variant of the air which was first published by the collector Lorcán Ó Muirí in Amhráin Chúige Uladh 1927, which he collected from Mrs Doyle and Mrs Duffy in Omeath.