An Cailín Rua

The Red-haired Girl
A love song to the beautiful Cailín Rua who takes everything the poet has to offer and then leaves him for a 'shop boy' more...

A love song to the beautiful Cailín Rua who takes everything the poet has to offer and then leaves him for a ‘shop boy’ in the end. In the video is a well known version by Skara Brae, an Irish traditional music group from Kells, County Meath with origins in Ranafast (Rann na Feirste), County Donegal. The group consisted of three siblings, Micheal O Domhnaill, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, and Maighread Ni Dhomhnaill, with Dáithí Sproule from Derry. In 1971, Skara Brae released a self-titled album of “beautifully performed Gaelic songs” on Gael-Linn Records, with the first track being An Cailín Rua. It is considered one of the most important albums in its genre, notable as the first recording to include vocal harmonization in Irish language songs.

In the seconds video is a rendition by Aoife Ní Fhearraigh. A well-known interpreter of Irish Gaelic songs, she released her first recording in 1991 and worked with Moya Brennan to produce her much acclaimed 1996 album Aoife. She was born and brought up in the Gaeltacht area of Gweedore (known in Irish and officially as Gaoth Dobhair), she was the youngest in an Irish-speaking family and learnt many old Gaelic songs as a child.

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Isn't it hard for me to praise my red-haired girl,
Not only because of her red hair,
She was like a ray of sun reflected through glass,
And she had the beauty of the Finne women.

I took her from town to town,
From the gates of Derry to Athlone,
There's not a mile of the way I traveled,
That I didn't give my red-haired girl a drink of ale.

I prefer her to any cow or heifer,
Or all the long ships drawing into the harbor,
I would rather than have all the rent of Clonmel,
To be in Athlone with my red-haired girl.


I sent my girl to the Sligo market,
That was the market that was expensive,
A weight of butter cost one guinea,
And I gave it willingly to my red-haired girl.


She went west wearing striped shoes,
Her hair tied up with the greenest ribbons,
She left me for a shop-boy,
God, wasn't she lovely, my red-haired girl.


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