Well, this is unusual; the tune appeared at Mudcat well ahead of the lyrics. The song tells of a poet wandering around meeting beautiful women. I like the lines in the second verse where the woman asks him where are his shirt and his shoes, saying it's seldom she's seen a man wearing a sack for clothing come to court a woman.
The fourth verse tells of women in various places in North Donegal. "Dis" is the same as "beirt" orin Scots Gaelic "dithis", two people. From the notes below, you will gather that people used to sing this song with several verses of this ilk. Nowadays it would seem they choose one verse connected with their own locale. I don't know for sure if Clannad sang the same verses as Albert Fry, but it seems likely.
from singing of Albert Fry, Gael-Linn records:
SEACHRÁN CHAIRN tSIALL
Ar tharraingt siar go Carn tSiail Domh
Go haonach bliantúil na Feil' Muire Mór
Tharla an ainnir as an taobh aniar domh
Is í go cianmhar 'gabhail tharam sa ród
Dar liom féin, ó, gur scar mo chiall uaim
Mar bheinn ag siabhrán nó seal ag ól
Chonachtas domhsa gur dhorcha an ghrian gheal
Le taobh 'ach dealramh 'raibh ina gruaidh mar rós.
Bheannaíos féin go preab don mhaighdean
Agus feasbhaidh céille ní raibh in mo ghlór
D'fhiafair mé féin dí 'raibh aon fhear in Éirinn
A ghlacfadh sí 'e roghainn orm ins an ród
D'fhiafair sí domhsa cá raibh mo léine,
Mo bhuig, mo bhéabar, 's gan fiú na mbróg,
Go mb'annamh a chonaic sise sac mar éideadh
Ar fhear ag bréagadh cailín óg.
A chúileann fáinneach, má thug mé grá duit
Ná cuir i gcás mé fá bheith gan dóigh,
Agus gheobhaidh tú aoibhneas ar hallaí bána,
Fíon na Spáinne gheobhair seal le hól
D'fhiafair sí domhsa an mar siúd ba ghnách liom
Bheith ag siúl na n-ardán ar bheagán stró
Is é dúirt mé léithi nár chleacht mise 'áthrach,
Ach ainnir álainn agus gloinne ar bord.
Níl siúd áit ó iochtar Fhánad
Nach bhfuil mé i ngrá le bean nó dhó
Bean sna Rosa thiar i Mín na Mánrach,
Ó thaobh Ghleann átha' go dtí ' Mhucais mhór
Dis i mBaiollach, dis i mBáineach,
Bean in árainn 's a chois Ghaoth Dobhair,
Ó Leitir Ceanainn go dtí mullach Gháigin
'S go Curraoin Mhánnis a chois an róid.
Mánus Ó Baoill Ceolta Gael 2 (Mercier, 1986) had these same verses
S Ó Baoghill et al Cnuasacht de Cheoltaí Uladh (1944) has 4 verses; the first two are the same as those given above.
Breandán Ó Buachalla Nua Duanaire 2 (Dublin, 1976) has a different but closely related version, based mainly on a manuscript archived. in the Belfast Public Library. The first two verses are very close to those given above. Although he only published 6 verses, ó Buachalla says that most versions have over 20 verses - with many of the verses consisting mainly of names of places the poet has travelled and trades he has pursued.
There are many versions of this song. Ó Buachalla cites a book about the song: S Laoide. Seachrán Chairn tSiadhail (Dublin, 1904), as well as documents in University College Dublin M 20,13 c 1852); the National Library of Ireland G 802, 23 c 1850; Royal Irish Academy 3 B 38, 46 c 1850, and Belfast Public Library (P) XVII, 46 c 1850
In sources G (National Library) and M (UCD), Art Mac Bionaid wrote that the song was attributed to Micheál ó hIr, while in B (RIA) and P (Belfast Library) it is said that the author was Toireach Rua ó Dónaill . ó Buachalla credits ó Dónaill.
Toirealach Ó /Mac Dónaill who was born near Dungannon, Tyrone early in the 18th century. Little is know about Mac Dónaill but it is said he was killed by a group of soldiers when he was only 23 years old. (B. Ó Buachalla. Nua Duanaire 2. with reference to Ó Muirgheasa. Dhá Chéad de Cheoltaibh Uladh (Dublin, 1934) and é Ó Doibhlin Domhnach Mór (Omagh, 1969)
Éinri Ó Muirgheasa writing about 'seachrán' poetry in "Céad de Cheoltaí Uladh" (1915): "The seachrán like the aisling was a well-known class of composition in Irish poetry. Fairies were supposed to carry human beings all around Ireland in the course of one night, or even as far as Rome and back again. This was called a 'seachrán' or 'straying'. Every district had, up to the beginning of the present generation, stories of such nocturnal travels made by someone in that neighbourhood. But the great use of the Seachrán to the poet was that it enabled him to show off his knowledge of geography. Maps and geographies did not form part of the equipment of a hedge school, so that a knowledge of a number of place-names, and an idea of the location of these places, passed off as something very learned in these days. And the poem itself was more a lesson in geography than anything else. Then many of the poets were of the Goldsmith type, wanderers who had seen many places, and had heard stories from other travellers of the places they had not seen, so that in some of these poems we get characteristic touches in reference to the places that only one who had been to the place could supply."