Caisleán Uí Néill

O'Neill's Castle
Home | Tags: Sean-Nós | Submitted by Norascanlon
THis is one of Ireland's oldest love songs and variants of it are to be found in the Kerry, Connemara, and Donegal Gaelt more...

THis is one of Ireland’s oldest love songs and variants of it are to be found in the Kerry, Connemara, and Donegal Gaeltacht regions. This is a love song from a woman’s perspective full of beauty and emotion. It is among the most poetic effusions of the Gaelic tradition. In this song the girl is broken hearted because the boy with whom she is love has left her for another, and gone to the castle of the O’Neills. She is grief stricken as he has not only broken his promises to her but has also betrayed her child.

In the first video is a nice rendition by Máirín Uí Chéide. Mairin was born in July, 1958 in Leitirmoir, the heart of the rural Conamara Gaeltacht, like other rural places in Ireland except that Irish was spoken by almost everyone except those in authority or the professions. Most of the food came from the surrounding land, with farm neighbors fishing for supplemental income and food. Surrounded there by a strong oral tradition, it seems to Mairin that she has been singing all of her life. When she was growing up, Radio Éireann and the “Céilí House” program in particular were very popular, all in Irish, as was a drama program. Her earliest radio recollection is of an announcement of the death of the American President Kennedy.

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A hundred farewells to last night,
and my sorrow it's not starting anew
With the handsome young fellow
who beguiled me awhile on his knee
You placed your claim on me,
O my fair love, but I'm not meant for you
For, a hundred sharp sorrows,
the mountains lie between you and me.

This garden is growing wild,
my bright love, and I am alone
And every flower is growing,
fairer than you ever saw
No harp-song was heard along this road,
nor the sweet songs of birds
Since he left me, my love,
that fair scion, for Caisleán Uí Néill.

In Caisleán Uí Néill is the one
who has spoiled my fame
And I can only compare him
to the North Star above yonder town
The taste of his kisses was sweeter
than roses in bloom
And with sorrow for my darling,
I'll have only a short while to live.

And why, O my fair love,
in early summer don't you come to me
Down into the glens or an island
where the cuckoo sings
Cows, sheep or goats I'd not ask
as a dowry for you
Just my hand in yours
and the freedom to be talking till twelve.

Can you provide a better translation?


We will work out the chords for you on request.