“Róisín Dubh” (pronounced Ro-sheen dove or Ro-sheen doo, meaning “Dark Rose”), written in the 16th century, is one of Ireland’s most famous political songs. It is based on an older love-lyric which referred to the poet’s beloved rather than, as here, being a metaphor for Ireland. The intimate tone of the original carries over into the political song. It is often attributed to Antoine Ó Raifteiri, but almost certainly predates him. Originally translated from the Irish language by James Clarence Mangan, this translation is credited to Pádraig Pearse.
Musicians/composers who have covered the song include:
Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill,
Seán Ó Riada,
Cherish the Ladies,
Thin Lizzy and
Little Rose, be not sad for all that hath behapped thee:
The friars are coming across the sea, they march on the main.
From the Pope shall come thy pardon, and from Rome, from the East-
And stint not Spanish wine to my Little Dark Rose.
Long the journey that I made with her from yesterday till today,
Over mountains did I go with her, under the sails upon the sea,
The Erne I passed by leaping, though wide the flood,
And there was string music on each side of me and my Little Dark Rose!
Thou hast slain me, O my bride, and may it serve thee no whit,
For the soul within me loveth thee, not since yesterday nor today,
Thou has left me weak and broken in mien and in shape,
Betray me not who love thee, my Little Dark Rose!
I would walk the dew with thee and the meadowy wastes,
In hope of getting love from thee, or part of my will,
Frangrant branch, thou didst promise me that thou hadst for me love-
And sure the flower of all Munster is Little Dark Rose!
Had I a yoke of horses I would plough against the hills,
In middle-Mass I'd make a gospel of my Little Dark Rose,
I'd give a kiss to the young girl that would give her mouth to me,
And behind the liss would lie embracing my Little Dark Rose!
The Erne shall rise in rude torrents, hills shall be rent,
The sea shall roll in red waves, and blood be poured out,
Every mountain glen in Ireland, and the bogs shall quake
Some day ere shall perish my Little Dark Rose!