This is a poem written by Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna, one of the four most prominent of the south Ulster and north Leinster poets in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It was later adapted to the well known Irish folk song song “Carrickfergus”. This version below is sung by Seán Ó Sé and includes some lines in English.
Along with Peadar Ó Doirnín, Art Mac Cumhaigh and Séamas Dall Mac Cuarta, Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna one of the four most prominent of the south Ulster and north Leinster poets in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He has been described as ‘an Irish-speaking Christy Moore, an incisive ballad singing entertainer for a totally Irish-speaking community of poor people living at or below subsistence in the early 18th Century.
Mac Giolla Ghunna was probably born in Fermanagh and, having initially gone on to be a priest, settled for a career as a rake-poet. It has been remarked about his poetry that ‘of the handful of poems attributed to him, most are marked by a rare humanity, but none can match An Bonnán Buí (The Yellow Bittern) with its finely-judged blend of pathos and humour’. Although “Cathal Buí”, as he is still affectionately termed in the folklore of Bréifne, is now little known in Ireland, his masterpiece An Bonnán Buí remains one of the best known laments and songs in Irish from the past few centuries.
A study of the Bréifne school of poetry is forthcoming from Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin. His memory is celebrated annually in his home country – Blacklion(Cavan) and Belcoo(Fermanagh) with a festival named in his honour, Féile Chathal Buí.Do you have any further information about this song? Edit this page and help us expand this section. ^close
There was a noble lady a short while ago
And she put up with my sharp excesses,
She was overcome in the towns
But she gave her sway in front of the world.
But if I could get one of her things
from under the arches of the church,
I would be without doubt on my subject;
But now I am sick and weak, and I have no hope of a cure.
And my family soon will mourn after me.
I wandered of Ireland and Munster together
And along Howth in search of women,
And never saw anyone to measure
To make my pleasure, but my White Molly.
Irish women to put together
And it's almost an entertainment for me to say that
It's what everyone says who saw my fair lady.
That she gave her sway from County Clare.
The sun is going and the heat is leaving
And I am not able to subdue the thirst,
Because I'm sure that from November to February
She will not be finished with me until Michael's Day;
But I promise you that it was not that
My own wonder was against her,
But because of my first love I did abandon her -
She went collecting charity for her daughters.
And I am worn sick and my right foot is
From when yonder young woman took me in'
I tried once or twice to give her a little kiss
For I'd long to roam with my own sweetheart.
For I'm tired of drinking and I'm seldom sober!
I'm a Constant rover from town to town!
But now I'm Dying and my days are over -
Come Bags, Misty, and lay me down!)