see A Hidden Ulster pp. 241-46 for detailed references and information
This was one of the most popular songs in he Oriel tradition when Irish was once the community language. The collector Lorcán Ó Muirí (AHU pp. 358-60) collected over 100 versions there at the turn of the 20th century, and published an edited composite version in his collection Amhráin Chúige Uladh (1927).
There is no evidence that Séamus Mac Murfaidh was a poet, although the song is mainly in his voice, and it is sometimes attributed to the local poet Peadar Ó Doirnín.
Seamus Mac Murfaidh from Carnally near Crossmaglen County Armagh, was a Robin Hood figure in local folklore – a rapparee belonging to an outlawed society who were preparing to support the Jacobite cause in the event of Bonnie Prince Charlie making his way to Ireland. He assembled his men in the great forest of the Fews.
He was caught and reputedly betrayed by his own people and by a woman, Molly Dacker, who was in love with him. He was captured, held in Armagh jail and hanged there. He was waked and keened in the barn at his mother’s home in Carnally. He is reputedly buried beside the Ó Néill burial vault in Creggan.
The song survived in the Donegal tradition sung to a popular air of Annsacht na nAnnsacht or known as Cuaichín Ghleann Neifín in the Conamara tradition.
It is sung here to the recently located and renewed older Oriel version of the air. It is an air of lamentation in the keening style. See sources below.
This older version of the air of this song, sung above, was remarried to the original lyrics, restored and recorded by Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin on her An Dealg Óir CD (Gael Linn 2003). It is a perfect match for the lyrics of this lament.
Bláithín Mhic Cana, then assimilated it into her repertoire and sang it on Geantraí TG4. She is a teacher in Gaelscoil Phádraig Naofa in Crossmaglen where she taught it to one of her pupils, Piaras Ó Lorcáin. They sing it together in the above video by Meon Eile.
It is recorded on Ceoltaí Oirialla – Songs of Oriel CD 2017
Piaras Ó Lorcáin performed it at Éigse Oirialla in October 2016, and shortly afterwards took part in the annual National Oireachtas na Gaeilge a competition in November 2016 in Killarney, which mainly attracts sean-nós singers from the living Gaeltacht areas throughout Ireland. Piaras won the Seosamh Ó hEanaí trophy in his category 12 -15 sean-nós singing.
This is a classic example of a tradition renewed. It is a song taken from a manuscript and returned to the oral tradition, and assimilated back into the contemporary sean-nós repertoire of local singers. It is now a much admired song and is now more widely sung again in the wider Oriel area.
This is an edited version mainly from the published version by Lorcán Ó Muirí, with additional verses from the Hollywood family of Carrive in Mullaghban, and Cití Sheáin Dobbins (AHU p.403-4), Omeath. Other Omeath singers who contribute versions were Mrs Larkin (AHU p.408) and Mrs Coyle (AHU p.410).
I nDún Réimhe mo léansa ’sea chodail mé an oích’,
Ag an spéirbhean chiúin chéillí agus rúnsearc mo chroí,
Teacht a’ lae ghil ’sea b’éigean domh imeacht a’ scaoil
Mar bheadh éan beag ’chuid a’ tsléibhe ’gabhail i measc na gcearc fraoigh.
A Shéamais a’ Mhurfaidh a rímharcaigh chlúitigh,
A phlanda den fhíorfhuil a shíolraigh ó uaisle,
Cad chuige nár smaoinigh tú do dhaoine do d’ ruagadh
Nuair nár éalaigh tú san oíche sul má díoladh fád’ luach thú.
Ar mhullach Shliabh gCuilinn bhí an choirm á réiteach
‘Gus Séamas a’ Mhurfaidh ’na thaoiseach ar an fhéasta,
Cha dtabharfadh sé urraim do bhodaigh an Bhéarla,
’Gus anois tá sé in Ard Mhacha is gan fáil ar a réiteach.
Bliain is an lá is bhí muinn aige Pátrún Chill Shléibhe,
Agus bliain an lá ’márach bhí muinn ar rásaí i nDún Léire,
Inniu fágfar mé in Ard Mhacha mar a fágadh na céadta,
’Gus ar uachtar na sráide déanfar mo chás a réiteach.
Trua gan mo chos bheith briste nó mo lámh a bheith leointe
Sara d’ól mé an cupán whiskey ar maidin Dé Domhnaigh,
Ghoid siad mo hata agus shlad siad mo phóca
’Gus bhuail an míádh orm gus sháraigh sé beo mé.
Trua gan mé ’mo fhraochán ar thaobh mhalaí ’n tsléibhe
Nó mar shamharclainn dheas ghléigeal ar eisir na gréine
Nó mar Shéamas Mha’ Mhurfaidh is deise ’bhí in Éirinn
Agus chaithfinn an Nollaig san Chreagán dá bhféadfainn.
Trua gan mé ar bharr Ardach’ nó ar Bharr ard an Fhéadáin,
Ag ól as na cártaí in do pharlús, a mhaighdean,
Dhéanfainn cúpla dántaí a’s dar mo lámh ní gan phléisiúr,
Och, a mhaighre na gealbhrád, is tú d’fhág m’intinn buartha.
Dá mbéinn ’mo fhraochán ar thaobh Bharr an Fhéadáin
Nó ’mo ghas raithní ar eisir na gréine,
Go dtéinn mar lon dubh go Coillidh Dhún Réimhe
’Gus thart go Carn Eallaigh mar a tógadh le réim mé.
Tabhair mo bheannacht chuige Paitsí gan chorraí gan díomas,
Tabhair mo bheannacht chuige Mallaí tré ’r gabhadh i líon mé,
Ach is oth liom gur ar mo chuileat a d’imir siad an cíoná,
Och, a bhean dubh a rinn’ an fheall dubh, a bhean dubh neamhdhílis.
Och, a Mhallaí mhín mhodhmhar, más tú a d’ordaigh chun báis mé,
Triall chun mo thórraimh ’gus cóirigh faoi chlár mé.
Más rogh’ leat mo phósadh is mo róghrá bheith lán leat,
Pill is tabhair póg domh is beidh mo chroíse lántsásta.
Ó, tógaigí go hard mé agus fágaidh mé go híochtarach,
’Gus tabhairigí go Carn Eallaigh mé ’gus fágaidh mé san scioból,
Go dtiocfaidh mo mháthair ’s go ndéanfaidh sí mo chaoineadh
’S go dtiocfaidh mo Chaití is go ngoilfidh sí a sáith uaim.
Tógaigí aníos mé agus leagaigí aríst mé,
’Gus fágaidh sa scioból mé go ndéanfaidh mo mháthair mo chaoineadh,
Beidh slat de raoghchoc ar gach bean den lucht caointe
’Gus Beirnigh na coille craobhaí ag cruinniú ar gha’n taobh díom.
Cruinnígí in mo thórramh trathnóna Dé hAoine,
Iompraígí go dóighiúil Dé Domhnaigh aríst mé,
Is beidh Kate Óg Nic Dhomhnaill ’gus mná óg’ mur dtíre,
Beidh mé ag éisteacht lena síorghol insa’ chomhraidh is mé sínte.
In Dunreavy, alas, I slept the night
With the discreet, fair lady and my own heart’s delight;
As day was a dawning I had to flee then,
Like a small bird of the mountain going among the grouse hens.
Séamus MacMurphy famous horseman of kings;
Seed of pure blood from nobility did descend;
Why didn’t you think that your people were in pursuit,
When you didn’t escape at night with a price upon your head?
On the summit of Slieve Gullion the gathering was prepared.
And Séamus MacMurphy the chieftain of the feast;
Who never would submit to the English churls
Now he lies in Armagh with no hope of release.
A year from today we were at the Pattern of Killeavy,
And a year from tomorrow at the races of Dunleer,
Today I’m left in Armagh as hundreds were before me,
At the foot of this street my death will be decreed.
Alas that my leg or my arm was not broken
Before I drank the cup of whisky that Sunday morning;
They stole my hat and plundered my pockets
And I was struck with bad luck which got the better of me.
Alas I ‘m not a blaeberry on the side of the mountain
Or as a bright primrose in the sun’s rays,
Or as Séamus MacMurphy the finest in Ireland
And Christmas in Creggan I’d spend were I able.
Alas that I’m not on Ardaghy or above on Flagstaff
Drinking from quarts in your parlour, young maid;
I’d make a few poems, upon my word with pleasure
O, white-breasted lady, it’s you who left me in dismayed.
If I were a blaeberry on the top of Fathom
Or as a stem of fern in the beam of the sun,
I would go as a blackbird to the woods of Dunreavy
And around by Carnally reared with honour when young.
Give my blessing to Patsy without spite or annoyance;
Bring my blessing to Molly whose deed set the trap;
What a pity that on my knave they played their five of trumps.
O, dark woman, who did the dark deed, disloyal and dark.
Tender, sweet Molly, if you have condemned me to death
Come to my wake and in a coffin prepare me;
But if you choose to wed me and my deep love go with you,
Return and then kiss me and contented I will be.
Raise me up high and set me down under,
Carry me to Carnally and lay me in the barn below;
Until my mother comes, and o’er me makes her keen,
And my Kitty will draw near, for to weep full sore.
Raise me high and lay me down,
And in the barn there leave me where my mother will cry;
A yard of fine cockade will adorn each keening woman,
And the Beirns of the branchy woods gathering on my every side.
Assemble for my waking on Friday evening
And carry me on Sunday again in style,
Kate McDonnell and all your maidens will be there in attendance,
And I’ll be listening to their weeping in the coffin as I lie.
Translation : P.Ní Uallacháin
This version of the air was recorded by collector Luke Donnellan (AHU pp.361-3) at the turn of the 20th century from the McKeown singers of Loughross, Crossmaglen. It resembles in ABBA form of other older songs of lamentation in the area, most notably An Bhean Chaointe (AHU pp.137-50).