Ar Éirinn Ní Neosfainn Cé Hí (For Ireland, I’d Not Tell Her Name)

Cathy Jordan and Dervish (one of my favorite singer/bands) performing For Ireland, I’d Not Tell Her Name live. And farther below is the Irish form of the song, performed by the great Liam Clancy.

Ar Éirinn Ní Neosfainn Cé Hí (For Ireland, I’d Not Tell Her Name)

There’s a home by the wide Avonmore
That would sweep o’er the broad open sea
And wide rivers where the waves wash ashore
Whilst bulrushes they wave to the breeze
Where the green ivy clings round the door
And the birds sweetly sing on each tree
O me darling they’re tuning they’re notes
Is ar Éirinn ní neosfainn cé hí

Like a sick man that longs for the dawn
I do long for the light of her smile
And I pray for my own cailin ban
While I’m waiting for her by the stile
Oh I’d climb all the hills of this land
And I’d swim all the depths of the sea
To get one kiss from her lily-white hand
Is ar Éirinn ní neosfainn cé hí

I have toiled sore those years of my life
Through storm, through sunshine and rain
And I surely would venture my life
For to shield her one moment from pain
For she being my comfort in life
Though my comfort and joy she may be
She’s my own, she is my promised wife
Is ar Éirinn ní neosfainn cé hí

O but when I will call her my own
And it’s married we both then will be
Like the king and the queen on their throne
We’ll be living in sweet unity
O it’s then I’ll have a home of my own
And I’ll rear up a nice family
O it’s then that her name will be known
But for Ireland I won’t tell her name

Irish version

Liam Clancy performs the version “as Gaeilge.”

Aréir is mé téarnamh um’ neoin
Ar an dtaobh thall den teóra ‘na mbím,
Do théarnaig an spéir-bhean im’ chómhair
D’fhág taomanach breóite lag sinn.
Do ghéilleas dá méin is dá cló,
Dá béal tanaí beó mhilis binn,
Do léimeas fé dhéin dul ‘na cómhair,
Is ar éirinn ní n-eósainn cé h-í.

Dá ngéilleadh an spéir-bhean dom’ ghlór,
Siad ráidhte mo bheól a bheadh fíor;
Go deimhin duit go ndéanfainn a gnó
Do léirchur i gcóir is i gcrich.
Dó léighfinn go léir stair dom’ stór,
‘S ba mhéinn liom í thógaint dom chroí,
‘S do bhearfainn an chraobh dhi ina dóid,
Is ar éirinn ní n-eósainn cé h-í.

Tá spéir-bhruinneal mhaordha dheas óg
Ar an taobh thall de’n teóra ‘na mbím.
Tá féile ‘gus daonnacht is meóin
Is deise ró mhór ins an mhnaoi,
Tá folt lei a’ tuitim go feóir,
Go cocánach ómarach buí.
Tá lasadh ‘na leacain mar rós,
Is ar éirinn ní n-eósainn cé h-í.


Last night as I strolled abroad
On the far side of my farm
I was approached by a comely maiden
Who left me distraught and weak.
I was captivated by her demeanour and shapeliness
By her sensitive and delicate mouth,
I hastened to approach her
But for Ireland I’d not tell her name.

If only this maiden heeded my words,
What I’d tell her would be true.
Indeed I’d devote myself to her
And see to her welfare.
I would regale her with my story
And I longed to take her to my heart
Where I’d grant her pride of place
But for Ireland I’d not tell her name.

There is a beautiful young maiden
On the far side of my farm
Generosity and kindness shine in her face
With the exceeding beauty of her countenance.
Her hair reaches to the ground
Sparkling like yellow gold;
Her cheeks blush like the rose
But for Ireland I’d not tell her name.

10 thoughts on “Ar Éirinn Ní Neosfainn Cé Hí (For Ireland, I’d Not Tell Her Name)

  1. Sadly, the version attributed to Liam Clancy are not the lyrics he sings. The first verse yes, but the second and third, no.

  2. Love this song, both versions. But Gezza is right, the words on the second were not the same as Liam Clancy was singing. One of my favorite songs either version.

    • Also I think that the lines in the third verse of the Dervish version are, “For she’s been my comfort in life and my comfort in dying she will be.” They may have changed it to the printed ones here, but that’s what she used to sing.

  3. There’s one thing about the Dervish lyrics that has confused me for years… in the song the man beautifully professes his deep love for his ‘promised wife’. But every stanza ends with his claim that ‘but for Ireland I won’t tell her name’.

    .. that just doesn’t make sense to me. If he’s so head-over-heels in love with this lady, *why* won’t he tell her name??? Is there some shame I’m not picking up from these lyrics???

  4. As I understand it (correctly or not), the back-story is that the kid is in love with the neighbor girl, but, being as poor as she is, feels that he has nothing to offer. So first he goes out into the world to make his fortune, to make himself worthy of her. But when he finally comes home to propose to the woman of his dreams, he learns she’s since gotten married — to his brother. So the gist of the song is that, as much as he still loves her, he’s so humiliated that he’d rather keep the whole situation anonymous, so for all Ireland he would never identify the parties involved. (I’m sorry I can’t remember where I read that explanation.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s