The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #2747   Message #821901
Posted By: GUEST,Philippa
08-Nov-02 - 08:08 PM
Thread Name: Tune Req: Glenroe theme / Cuaichin Ghleann Neifin
Subject: Lyr Add: BESIDE THE SHANNON (Brian O'Rourke)
The recording by Dolores Keane which I mentioned is called "Thuas ag Gort a' Charnáin. In his book "Blas Meala - A Sip from the Honey-pot", Brian O'Rourke (same one who wrote the Bodhrán Song) writes that " 'Mainistir na Buaille' belongs to the same network of verses as the two songs which bear the name 'Cuaichín Gleann Néifín'. Máiréad Ní Dhomhnaill, for example, sings a version which resembles, both in words and melody, the 'Cuaichín' of this collection ["Blas Meala"includes the song beginning 'Tá fada is fásach i ngleanntán álainn i bhfad ó bhaile ...']. More usually, however, the song recalls the other 'Cuaichín' - the one which begins 'Éireoidh mé amárach'. Two verses in Máire Ní Scolaí's recording of this latter song correspond to the second and fourth of the text given here, and the air she uses is basically the same as ours. Anyone interested in a compatison, but who does not have access to Máire Ní Scolaí's record (Gael-linn, CEF 029) can listen to Dolores Keane's rending of what is esentially the same song 'Thuas ag Gort a' Charnáin', on the LP ' Sail Ó Rua (Gael-linn, CEF 101). the melody in question, though played at a different tempo, will be familiar to many as the theme-music of the television series, 'Glenroe'."

O'Rourke also notes having heard a version of Mainistir na Buaile sung by Máire Bean Pheait Mhóir Uí Chonghaile of Leitir Móir, Co. Galway, in which the abandoned woman of the song explicity mentions a pregnancy. But the lines published by O'Rourke are nearly identical to those sung by Johnny Mháirtín Learaí Mac Donnchadha and posted above. Therefore I will give the translations by Brian O'Rourke.

Mainistir na Buaile / Boyle (translation)

I have spent 7 weeks in Boyle, lying on my bed, not asleep but awake, expecting every half-hour you would bring the priest with you in secret; oh, you were deceiving me, and I lost my honour by you.

Like a white flower in the garden is my love at the start of summer, or like the little white gulls swimming on Lough Erne, or like a ship on the sea with brightness all around it, and that is how my fair love comes wandering through my mind.

My people went to Ballinrobe to get my coffin made, and the rest of them went to the woods of Eochaill to cut my bier from the tops of the branches. I hope to the King of Glory that they are all lying, and that I and my thousand treasures will be drinking together for a while.

How deligthful for the tent in which my love goes drinking, and how delightful for the path on which he lays his shoe; how delightful for the nice yound girl who will get him in marriage; he's the guiding star of the morning and the torch of the evening.

May it not be long till I get a letter with news from you; and may it not be long till I get it to open and read; may it not be long till I see the priest in his surplice, yellow gold in our pockets and we married to each other.

O'Rourke also offers poetic translations of all the songs in his volume. I find his explanation of why he made certain changes in this translation of interest:

"Part of the homeliness of many Gaelic songs derives from their localization, and it is regrettable that the place-names mentioned do not always tranlate suitably in English equivalents. I found I could do little with 'Boyle', a more ambiguous and less evocative appelation than the original for the town that takes its name from the twelfth-century Cistercian abbey [mainistir] on the river Buaille. My solution was, effectively, to shift the town ten miles to the east; yet, since the place gives the song its title, I was reluctant to call it 'Carrick-on-Shannon', and preferred to leave it anonymous, hoping that mention of the river would suffieciently anchor the song in its general area. ... As for 'coillte Eochaill', this may be a corruption of 'Coill a' Tóchair' - 'the wood of the causeway' - which, according to Colm Ó Lochlainn, was in the parish of Ballinrobe. I have kept 'coillte Eochaill' in the original because it is what I am accustomed to hearing; there is in any event a case to be made for it since the name 'eochaill' is to be found not only in Cork - Youghal= - but also in Galway and Donegal, and Cluain Eochaille' occurs in Roscommon and Sligo. In the English I replace 'Eochaill', which I found musically unmanageable in its various anglicized forms - Youghal, Oghly, Oghilly, Aghilly - by Bohola rather than by 'Kyletogher', because I felt it gave a more flowing line; the loss in geographical accuracy is slight enough. The main problem I had with that particular line, in fact, arose not from the placenames, but from my desire to avoid the word 'bier', which I felt listeners might easily confuse with 'beer'."

(poetic translation of Mainistir na Buaile by Brian O'Rourke)

In this town beside the Shannon I am stranded since last Easter,
And I lie beneath my blankets, awake and anxious, in a fever;
and I pray as I grow weaker, you'll bring the priest to me in secret,
For I'm shamed before my people, and you have been my cruel deceiver.

Like the blossoms on the hawthorns in the morning breezes waving,
Or the white wings on the seagulls with the sunlight round them streaming,
Like a boat upon the ocean glowing rosy in the evening,
That's the way I see my sweet heart as he appears in all my dreaming.

Oh, I'm told my father's going to Ballinrobe to buy my coffin,
and the oak is from Bohola, so the boards will not be rotten;
but I implore the gracious Lord that he may cause your heart to soften
And that soon we may be married, and my burying forgotten.

Oh, how happy for the tavern where my charmer goes carousing,
And how happy for the furrows he turns over when he's plowing,
Oh, how happy for the maiden who will claim him with her dowry;
He's like the sun in all its glory or a rose-tree always flowering.

Oh, I hope my love addresses me a message of devotion;
It would cure me of my fever and I'd read it with emotion;
I can't wait until the priest can see him giving me a golden token,
And my troubles will be over once our oaths of love are spoken.