Casadh an tSúgáin

The Twisting Of The Rope
This is a traditional Irish song arranged by The Bothy Band. It appears on the album The Best Of The Bothy Band, release more...

This is a traditional Irish song arranged by The Bothy Band. It appears on the album The Best Of The Bothy Band, released in 1983.

From Joe Heaney

Well now, this is a very interesting story. You could call it love, maybe – and maybe you wouldn’t call it love. Casadh an tSúgáin – ‘The Twisting of the Rope.’ The rope that they’re talking about, it’s the rope they used to tie down the thatched cottages long ago. The way they used to do it, you had some straw or hay, and you came up, and you got a bit of a stick, and I was sitting here with the straw. And you put the stick into the straw and started twisting it and backing away like this, now. [demonstrates] Get me? And I’d be letting out the straw to you, until the rope was long enough to be cut; and then you’d start another rope, and tie them up until the day you were thatching the house.

Well, this fellow was in love with this particular girl, and there was only the girl and the mother in the house. And people say the mother was a bit jealous because he fancied the daughter; the daughter fancied the fellow, and the mother fancied the fellow, and the fellow fancied the daughter and he didn’t fancy the mother – let me put it that way. But anyway, he was going around from place to place, you know, moaning his loss, ‘til one night he says to himself, ‘I may as well make a bee-line for this house again.’ So in he goes, and when the old lady saw him coming, she said ‘I don’t want— I don’t like this at all.’ And he was sitting down, and he said to the old woman, ‘I like your daughter,’ he said, ‘Ma’am. Suppose if I married your daughter, what kind of a dowry would she get? And the old woman started tapping her foot. And she said – I can’t write this down, this is something I cannot write – stráca an phota is mar sin. ‘Stráca an phota’ is the old thing that used to lift up the pot off the fire. Was made…of wool or something, or knitted like a sock and pulled on. And she said, [sings] ‘Stráca an phota is mar sin.’ And then she started tapping her feet. Read more on

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I did a trick
In O Domhnall's house last night
And a second trick
At the holstelry next door

I'd prefer not to add
The third trick to my story
And I often spent
A good with her

Oh God Almighty
What drove me to this district?
When it's many a fine lass
I'd find in my own townland

I called into the house
Of my own true love
And the old woman put me twisting rope
'Til I was outside the door

If you'll be mine, be mine
Oh treasure of my heart
If you'll be mine, be mine
Before the whole world
If you'll be mine, be mine
Every inch of your heart
Alas that you're not
My wife this Sunday

My head is gray
And it's not from old age
Fair words butter
No parships anyway

I'm after you now for a year
And it's useless
And I'm like a deer on the moor
And the hounds are yelping after me


I'd plow, I'd toil
I'd sow seed in the clay
And I'd do a steady job
Beautiful, smooth and even

I'd shoe the maddest horse
Ever to walk on grass
And the woman still wouldn't elope
With a man who'd do that

Can you provide a better translation?