The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #14918   Message #130778
Posted By: Stewie
02-Nov-99 - 02:10 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Sean O Duibhir an Gleanna / Sean O'Dwyer
Of late, there has been considerable discussion in the forum on the subject of Irish rebel songs. They do not come any better (and most do not come anywhere near) this glorious example of Irish art:

SEAN O DUIBHIR AN GHLEANNA (Sean O'Dwyer of the Glen)

How oft at sunny morning
Sunlight all adorning
I hear the horn give warning
'Mid the birds mellow call.
Badgers flee before us
Woodcocks startle o'er us
And guns give ringing chorus
'Mid the echoes all.

The fox runs higher and higher
Huntsmen shouting nigh her
A maiden lying by her fowl
Left wounded in his gore.
Now they fell the wildwood
Farewell home of childhood
Sean O Duibhir an Gleanna
Your day it is o'er.

'Tis my sorrow sorest
Sad the falling forest
The north wind brings me no rest
And death is in the sky.
My noble hounds tied tightly
Never sporting brightly
Would make a child laugh lightly
With a tear in its eye.

The antlered noble-hearted
Stags are never started
Never chased nor parted
From the furzy field.
If peace comes but a small way
I'll journey down to Galway
I'll leave, but not for always
My Erin of ills.

Land of streams and valleys
Has no head nor rallies
In city, camp or palace
They never toast her name.
Where the warrior column
From Clyne to peaks of Collum
All wasted hills and solemn
The wild hare grows tame.

When will come the routing
Shocks of churls and flouting?
I hear no joyful shouting
From the blackbird brave.
Ne'er warlike is the yeoman
Justice comes to no man
And priests must flee the foeman
To the mountain cave.

'Tis my woe and ruin
Sinless death's undoing
Came not to the strewing
Of all my bright hopes.
How oft of sunny morning
I watched the sun returning
The autumn maples burning
And dew on the woodland slopes.

But now my lands are plundered
Far my friends are sundered
And I must hide me under
The branch and bramble screen.
If soon I cannot save me
From flights of foes who crave me
Oh death at last I'll brave thee
My bitter foes between.

For now they fell the wildwood
Farewell home of childhood
Sean O Duibhir an Ghleanna
Your day it is o'er.

Traditional Irish

Source: Danny Spooner and Mick Farrell 'In Limbo and Other Songs and Places' Anthology AR003.

'Sean O Duibhir an Ghleanna' is both a lovely air and a lovely ballad – musical and lyrical brilliance. One of the ironies of Irish nationalism was that the wretched poor tended to identify its interests with those of its former ruling class. There was a cultural unity between the Big House and the peasant hovel that did not exist elsewhere in Europe (for a discussion on this, read Daniel Corkery's marvellous little book 'The Hidden Ireland'). The exquisite sadness of an O Duibhir lamenting the burning of the forests and the passing of his estates would strike a chord in the heart of the most downtrodden Irish peasant. Indeed, it was only among the poor that such pieces as this survived.

Danny noted that 'Sean O Duibhir an Ghleanna' and its beautiful air were 'inspired by a guerilla leader in Ireland at the time of Oliver Cromwell's attempted conquest. Sean O Dhuibhir carried on a fierce resistance against the New Model Army and its Protestant allies until his beloved forest was put to the torch by the invaders. No one listening can help but be moved by such wanton destruction and blood-letting in the name of God that is symbolised by that invasion'. ^^