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Lyr Req: Coolin/Cuilin

25 Feb 98 - 11:09 AM (#22200)
Subject: Coolin/Cuilin
From: Wolfgang Hell

The song "Spinning Wheel" (see DT-database) has a line "And singing all wrong the old song of the "Coolin"?"
Al O'Donnell, a not very well known Irish folk singer, has recorded a song "Cuilin". The few notes say that D. Behan has written (translated?) the words. The few lines I understand go "I will come to my Cuilin ere the life of my corpse shall wander".
has someone Behan's lyrics?
Is there an older Irish version?
are the two songs the same?

25 Feb 98 - 11:23 AM (#22202)
Subject: RE: Coolin/Cuilin
From: Bruce O.

I don't know when the tune "Molly St. George" was 1st called "The Coolin". BUCEM lists a song "Coolun with words" issued as a single sheet song with music by Anne Lee in Dublin, c 1780 (and later issues). The tune was usually found with the "Coolin/Coolun" title after that, and there are many copies. Bunting in his 3rd collection of ancient Irish music says that Lyons composed variations on the tune in 1702. The song commences "Oh the hours I have passed".

25 Feb 98 - 12:27 PM (#22209)
Subject: Lyr Add: OH! GIVE ME MY COOLIN
From: Bruce O.


Oh, the hours I have passed in the arms of my dear
Can never be thought of but with a sad tear;
Oh, forbear then, forbear then, to mention her name,
It recalls to my mem’ry the cause of my pain.
How often to love me she fondly has sworn,
And, when parted from me, would ne’er cease to mourn,
All hardships for me she would cheerfully bear,
And, at night, on my bosom forget all her care.
To some distant climate together we’ll roam,
And forget all the misery we met at home.
Fate, now be propitious, and grant me thine aid,
Oh, give me my Coolin, and I am repaid.

I have only this copy from the “Universal Songster,” I (1825) 1828. The song was often called “The Coolin; Or, The Lady of the Desert,” and this subtitle is the title of the tune in a late 18th and an early 19th century Scots music collection. “O’Kane, the lady of the desert” is a contemporary song I’ve seen mentioned, but never found. “The Coolun,” song and tune, are in “The Vocal Magazine,” II, #40, Edinburgh, 1798. Tune only was published (with variations) in the US in 1816 in “Riley’s Flute Melodies.”

I took my identification of “Molly St. George” from Alfred Moffat, but this may be incorrect (as others have proved to be). “Molly St. George,” song and tune are in Donal O’Sullivan’s “Songs of the Irish,” p. 181, where the tune is attributed to Thomas Connellon in the late 17th century.

Probably the best place to look for further information is in Donall O’Sullivan’s edition of Bunting’s MSS, which appeared as three or four volumes of “The Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society” in the late 1920’s.

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 7-May-02.

25 Feb 98 - 05:36 PM (#22245)
Subject: RE: Coolin/Cuilin
From: Bruce O.

Agh! I forgot to do the search and replace of | with (left angle bracket) br (right angle bracket) for the html markup. The song is all one verse in the songbook cited. I also missed the first character in the title in my copy to Notepad, 'Oh!....'.

26 Feb 98 - 03:39 PM (#22366)
Subject: RE: Coolin/Cuilin

The Coolin is a traditional tune and sean-nós song performed by many traditional bands - I think Begley and Cooney may do a version.

The word comes from Cúl Fhionn, meaning fair hair; boys usually wore their hair tied back, and they cut off the bunch of hair to leave it with their mothers on emigration, so all a mother would have left to remember her child was the lock of hair, the Coolin.

27 Feb 98 - 10:05 AM (#22406)
Subject: RE: Coolin/Cuilin
From: Wolfgang

Thanks for responding.
The song Cuilin uses the melody I found on the web for Coolin. But the lyrics from Dominik Behan are different from the lyrics posted by Bruce. It seems to me that Behan has taken the old story and made his own lyrics to fit the tune.

27 Feb 98 - 04:34 PM (#22448)
Subject: RE: Coolin/Cuilin
From: Martin Ryan

Sparling's Irish Minstrelsy (1888) has a set by Samuel Ferguson - noted as a translation. he was a well known poet in the mid-19th C. Verses are rather ornate - unsigable, I would think.

I don't have the book to hand, but there is little resemblance to the version Bruce quotes above, methinks.

The Journal, Bruce, seems to only have a version of the tune - no mention of words - or none that are referenced in the index, anyway.

There is a Gaelic set - usually sung in drawing room style in my experience. I'll try to check if its out there in the real world at all.

For what its worth, I think the tune is suffering under its own weight - like the Londonderry Air!


27 Feb 98 - 05:02 PM (#22452)
Subject: RE: Coolin/Cuilin
From: Bruce O.

I don't remember much about what was in a book of Ferguson's songs and poems that I turned up in the Library of Congress. I hunted for, but never found, a song "Druimion Donn Delis" that he is said to have translated from Gaelic. All too often I've seen English songs from Ireland that say 'translated from the Gaelic' or the like, with never a mention of where to find an old copy in Gaelic.
"Coolun" might well have been originally a Gaelic song. Posibly even resembling the English one, but literal and metrical translations are often nearly unrecognizable as from the same original.
My Gaelic dictionary has no words 'coo---'. Colu/n is column or pillar, and doesn't seem to make any sense. That "Lady of the Desert" is still a mystery to me too. Thanks for the info on O'Sullivan's Bunting edition. O'Sullivan sometimes found verses among Bunting's MSS, and gave them, and he also found old songs elsewhere. O'Sullivan was mostly very good, but on some occasions his comments were just ridiculous.

27 Feb 98 - 09:04 PM (#22497)
Subject: RE: Coolin/Cuilin
From: MM

Coolin comes from cu/l (back hair) and fhionn (blonde).

13 Apr 03 - 05:29 PM (#932605)
Subject: RE: Coolin/Cúilfhionn
From: Felipa

I've added the lyrics from O'Sullivan & Ó Súilleabháin edition of Bunting to a more substantial Coolin thread