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

Margadh an Iúir


(see A Hidden Ulster, pp.75-82 for detailed references and information)

The song does not appear elsewhere in Ireland, although verses from it have strayed into another song. The refrain in English would appear to be a corruption of An bhfanfa’,  bhfanfa’ tú, Bhanfa tú, bhfanfa tú a bhagaide’ 

Market days and fair days were important events in the social calendar of southeast Ulster. The songs and stories of the area are peppered with references to the fairs and markets which were central to the economic and social life of the people. They were important places for social and musical gatherings and local trade, within living memory. In previous centuries fairs fell at the turning points of the pastoral year. In Forkhill the horse fair was held on 29 September and was famous for its fiddlers and harpers, singers and dancers who would gather there:

The Blackhaird Girl or The Blackhaired Lass was one of the most popular tunes at Forkhill Fair 29 September. It is in Donnellan’s Collection No. 66, A Hidden Ulster p. 500

The old people of Dromintee will tell you of the number and the skill of musicians who used to come to Forkhill fair. I was told that there used to be as many as thirty playing at it’. They display an extensive knowledge of the names of song and dance tune but cannot sing them.

The reel known as the Black-haired Lass seems to have been a great favourite with everyone. These facts point to a vanishing and disappearing musical culture … … The mastersingers and masterplayers of the country come here to rival and to emulate each other and they were employed by the various groups of dancers in the Fair tents. These tents were pitched at the top of the village hill by the side of the road in three rows of ten each. (AHU p. 76).

Harpers, too, were known to come to the Forkhill Fair. To this fair gathered all the fiddlers and musicians of both town and country each vying with the other to receive the highest award. Collections were made in a hat for the musicians but they genuinely sought for praise too.’ … … Fairs and markets were central to the oral transmission of tunes and songs and later the exchange of printed broadside ballads. The singer Mick McKeown from Loughross, who gave many songs to the collector Luke Donnellan, told him that he learned four-versed songs at the market of Carrickmacross with no sheet [ballad sheet] and had the songs by heart on his return home in the evening. (AHU pp.76-7)

The tradition of song and music in Forkhill continues to the present day with a thriving Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann branch meeting every Tuesday night in the local hostelry.

Oriel fiddle music

Oriel fiddler in Omeath c.1912 . copyright A Hidden Ulster 2017

Newry in County Down, which is mentioned in the title of this song, was the fourth leading centre of trade in Ireland in 1777, supplying most of Ulster ‘with foreign merchandise and having a good export of linen, cloth, beer and butter’. Newry market, which survives to the present day on its original site each Thursday and Saturday, is one of the oldest markets in Ireland. This is a light-hearted nonsense song about going to the market of Newry.

The video recording above was filmed on Slieve Gullion in May 2019.

Oriel Arts © 2019



It was noted by collector Lorcán Ó Muirí (AHU pp. 358-60) c. 1912 from an Omeath singer, Séamus Ó Catháin (AHU pp. 405-6) who was seen walking around the garden singing it, on a Sunday afternoon, to remind himself  of the songs he had inherited lest he forget them, as there was no one interested in listening. Fortunately, a collector was passing by one Sunday afternoon in Omeath, and the rest is history …..

Omeath singers and storytellers in 1921

              Omeath singers and storytellers in 1921 including Séamus Ó Catháín – the source of Margadh an Iúir,

It is very much an Oriel song found in Counties Armagh and Louth. Collector Éamonn Ó Tuathail (AHU pp.375-7) collected a version in Omeath. The famous McKeown singers from Crossmaglen also had a version.

This song was first unearthed by Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin over 25 years ago, from the tonic solfa version published in Amhráin Chúige Uladh 1927, and recorded in 1994 on A Stór is a Stóirín Gael Linn CD in an abbreviated form. She added the extra final tail phrase of music to each verse, although it was not in the published version of 1927. Much later, during ongoing research a further two extra verses came to light.

It is recorded on Ceoltaí Oirialla – Songs of Oriel CD 2017.

It was then assimilated into the repertoire of musician Eithne Ní Uallacháin to emerge in 1996 as part of a song track entitled Omeath Music on her Brigid’s Kiss CD. It has become a very popular song, with many other traditional singers throughout Ireland and far afield.

Oriel Arts © Ceoltaí Éireann 2018

Oriel singer and Flute player Eithne Ní Uallacháin.  © O’Connor Family 2017



Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin



  • Chan Fheil agam acht Scadán Amháin: Amhráin Chúige Uladh (1927) 32 from Séamus ó Catháin Omeath
  • Margadh an Iúbhair: Dundalk Democrat, 23 Nov. 1912 from Mícheal McKeown, Lough Ross near Crossmaglen.
  • An alternate refrain to this song was published by collector, Tomás Mac Cuilleannáin (AHU pp. 365-6) as ‘Bobaraigh gy-ree ladraim, bobaraigh gy ree gy ree, too and tee wan, tabhair mise leat.’

Margadh an Iúir

Chan fhuil agam ach(t) scadán amháin
Le haghaidh mo chás náire a sheasamh domh;
Ó tháinig seanghadaí an dá láimh
Is rug sé uaim go bradach é.

One and two, one two, one two
One and two, one two waggety;
One and two, one two one,
Le haghaidh pléaráca a rugadh mé.

Tá gabha beag thall ins a’ Spáinn
Is dhéanfadh sé cásaí noigíní;
Dhéanfadh sé crú agus tairne
Is chuirfeadh sé barr ar igíní.

Chuaigh mé go margadh an Iúir,
Is ann a bhí cúthrú maith cailíní;
Bhí bean ar a cheathair is a chúig
Agus buachaillí an triúis a’ feadalaigh.

Cha raibh agam ach scadán amháin
Le haghaidh mo chás náire is giota beag;
Nuair a tháinig orm gadaí an dá láimh
Agus chuir sé le fána ’na mhuineál é.

Cha raibh agam ach cú agus gadhar
Agus thug siad a n-aghaidh ar an fharraige;
Rinne siad fead as mo ladhar
Agus tháinig mo chéad ghrá abhail’ ’ugam.

Newry Market

I have but a single herring
Between me and decency;
Since along came the thief with two paws
And took it from me thievingly.

One and two, one two, one two,
One and two, one two waggety;
One and two, one two one,
For merriment was my nativity.

There’s a little blacksmith in Spain
Who would make noggin cases;
He’d make a horseshoe and nails
And he’d make toggles for ropes.

I went to Newry market
Where there were many fine pretty girls;
A woman at four and at five
And the kilted lads were whistling.

I had but a single herring
Between me and decency;
When along came the thief with two paws
And slugged it down its throat on me.

I had but a hound and a beagle
They headed away off to sea;
With my toes they made a whistle
And then my first love came home to me.

(Translation: P.Ní Uallacháin)

Oriel Arts © Ceoltaí Éireann 2018


The song was noted from Séamus Ó Catháin by Lorcán Ó Muirí and published in tonic solfa in Amhráin Chúige Uladh (1927) 32. The notation was probably written down by Fanny Kane (AHU pp367-8) who is credited with writing down most of the songs collected by Ó Muirí.

Oriel Arts © Ceoltaí Éireann 2018

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