The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #10531   Message #3301923
Posted By: Jim Carroll
04-Feb-12 - 06:02 AM
Thread Name: Tune Req: For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name
Subject: RE: Tune Req: For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name
I put this up on another thread, but interesting enough to bear repeating.
It is Tom Munnelly's note to Clare singer, the late Tom Lenihan's singing of the song 'Ar Eirinn Ni Neosfainn Ce hI' which was included on the two cassette, 150pp set, 'Mount Callan Garland' published by Comhairle Bhealoideas Eireann in 1994 (still copies available - well worth looking out for)
Jim Carroll

Cassette 1, Side B, Track 3. IFC TM 81/B/2. August 19th 1972. Tom did not recollect a specific source, although he recalled that it had been in the family a long time.
Known in Scotland as 'Tweedside', this beautiful air is said to have been written by David Rizzio (or Riccio), musician and secretary to Mary Queen of Scots. His affection for the Queen was manifest and the amount of time he spent in her private chamber the source of much speculation. On March 9th 1566 the unfortunate Italian was dragged from the pregnant Queen's side and butchered before her eyes by a number of armed lords who delivered him no less than fifty dagger-strokes.
In its Irish form this song, (trans. 'For Ireland I will not tell whom she is'), is classified as a reverdie by O Tuama. The classification refers to the greenwood setting in which the poet encounters the beautiful maiden much as in an aisling. However, if they are vision-poems, O Tuama reminds us that they are 'aisling na sul n-oscailte go minic . And indeed some versions of the song carried intimations of carnality which at least implied that the interpretations of the singers at any rate were down-to-earth, no matter how high-flown the poetry. When Conny Cochlan of Derrynasaggart, Baile Bhuirne, sang his version for A.M. Freeman in 1914 he told the collector that it was a dialogue between a married man and his brother, a priest, in which the former lets the priest know that he is aware of his passion for his wife!64 The Clare Gaelic scholar Eugene O' Curry stated that this song was written originally about 1810 by a Finneen, or Florence, Scannell, a Kerry schoolmaster.
The song in English which Tom sings has been about for a good many years likewise, as is witnessed by the similar version which Freeman noted down in London in 1915. Interestingly enough in our context, his informant was a Frank Brewe from Ruan in West Clare.