Buachaill ón Éirne

Boy from the Erne
The origin of the slow air is quite disputed. Some say it was written in the early 1800s by Robert Tanahill of Paisley, more...

The origin of the slow air is quite disputed. Some say it was written in the early 1800s by Robert Tanahill of Paisley, Scotland. However, the use of the word “buachaill” as “young man” in Irish suggests that this song may be Irish in origin, since in Scottish Gaelic the word means “shepherd”.

The River Erne (Irish: An Éirne), in the northwest of Ireland flowing through several Ulster counties, rises in Beaghy Lough, two miles south of Stradone in County Cavan and flows 64 miles through Lough Gowna, Lough Oughter and Upper and Lower Lough Erne, County Fermanagh, to the sea at Ballyshannon, County Donegal. The Erne is virtually littered with ancient ruins both Christian and Pagan. Boa Island is the home of one of most interesting pre-Christian statues in Ireland and Inismacsaint has, what is reputed to be, the oldest large stone cross in Ireland.

In the videos are two covers by Clannad and The Corrs. Clannad are an Irish band formed in 1970 in Gweedore, County Donegal. Their music has been variously described as bordering on folk and folk rock, traditional Irish, Celtic and New Age, often incorporating elements of an even broader spectrum of smooth jazz and Gregorian chant. The Corrs are an Irish band which combine pop rock with traditional Celtic folk music. The brother and sisters are from Dundalk, Ireland. The group consists of the Corr siblings: Andrea (lead vocals, tin whistle); Sharon (violin, vocals); Caroline (drums, piano, bodhrán, vocals); and Jim (guitar, piano, vocals).

From Áine Cooke

“At first glance, it would seem to be a bragart’s song and rather insulting to the poor girl to whom it is sung. However, if you consider all the attributes claimed by the man in the song to actually be the exact opposites of his actual place in life, then you can see how ‘tongue-in-cheek’, flirtatious and teasing the song really is!”

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I'm a boy from the Erne
and I could charm a nice young girl.
I would not ask for her wealth
as I am rich enough myself.
I own Cork, as big as it is,
two sides of the glen, and Tyrone.
And not to repeat myself,
I'm the heir of County Mayo.

I will go tomorrow
to make ale in the wood
Without a cot, without a boat,
without a pinch of gruel with me
But leaves of the branches
as bedclothes over my head
And O! good for you!
and you looking across at me.

A cowherd, my pet,
I've never been accustomed to be
But playing and drinking and (being)
with nice young women on the mountain
Even though I lost my wealth
it's not as though I lost my senses
And your kiss is no more to me
now than a shoe worn for a year.

My darling and my love
don't marry the grey old man
But marry a young man, my pet,
if he only lives but a year
Or you will be without
a descendant to succeed you
Who would shed their tears
heavily at eve or at morn.

Can you provide a better translation?