The great uilleann piper Séamus Ennis performs An Droimeann Donn Dílis. His familiarity with the sean-nós tradition was apparent in his singing and especially in his magnificent piping. In this clip, we are fortunate enough to hear both. This song tells the said tale of a farmer brought low by taxation who is forced to part with his precious Droimeann cow.
A Dhroimeann Donn Dílis
A dhroimeann donn dílis, a shíoda na mbó,
cá ngabhann tú san oíche is cá mbíonn tú sa ló?
Bíonn mise ar na coillte is mo bhuachaill i m’ chomhair
agus d’fhág sé siúd mise ag sileadh na ndeor.
Níl fearann, níl tíos agam, níl fíonta ná ceol,
níl flatha i m’ choimhdeacht, níl saoithe ná sló
ach ag síoról an uisce go minic sa ló
agus beathuisce agus fíon ag mo naimhde ar bord.
Dá bhfaighinnse cead aighnis, nó radharc ar an gcoróin
Sasanaigh a leidhbfinn mar a leidhbfinn seanabhróg
tré chnocaibh is tré ailtibh, is tré ghleanta dubha ceo
agus siú mar a shaorfainn mo dhroimeann donn óg.
Sung English version.
A droimeann donn dílis, the landlord is come
Like a foul blast of death, he has shook over our home
He has withered the roof-tree beneath the cold sky
And houseless and homeless tonight we must lie
With my health and my strength, with hard labor and toil
I drained the wet marsh, and I tilled the harsh soil
I toiled the long day through, from morning ’til even’
And I thought in my heart I’d a foretaste of heaven
But they wracked me and ground me, with tax and with rent
‘Til my heart it was seared and my life-blood was spent
Ah it’s hard to forgive it, and to think I must bear
That strangers shall reap the reward of my care
I knelt down three times for to utter a prayer
But my heart it was cold and the words were not there
Ah wild were the thoughts through my dizzy head came
Like the rushing of wind through a forest of flame
I bid you old comrade, a long last farewell
For the gaunt hand of famine has clutched us too well
It has severed the master, and you my good cow
With a blight on my life and a brand on your brow…