Over the Hills and Far Away (Mo Ghile Mear)

One of the versions of the macaronic (two languages) song, Mo Ghile Mear.  Len Graham gives a nice introduction through the story of a grave in Seville, Spain.  Here’s a bit of information about the song picked up from Springthyme:

Many Jacobite songs are found in the Irish song tradition in both English and Irish. Here Len has taken a text in English and borrowed the refrain of the Irish Jacobite song – Mo Ghile Mear by the eighteenth century Munster bard Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill.

The maiden fair of the opening line, now old and grey, is Éire and in the song she laments the loss of her lover, Bonnie Prince Charlie, exiled across the sea in his youth. The song air is also found in Scotland. The Séarlas Óg (meaning Young Charles in Irish) refers to Charles Edward Stuart – Bonnie Prince Charlie (1720 – 1788) and Mo Ghile Mear of the refrain can be translated as – my bright hero – also Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Len added the ‘peace’ conclusion from Robert Burns’s song of 1794 – On the Seas and Far Away.

Once there was a maiden fair,
Now she’s widowed old and grey;
Her true love ploughs the salt sea spray,
Over the hills and far away.
She’ll sit down on yonder hill,
And take her pen and write with skill;
Her love she’ll raise all else above,
Her deeds she’ll praise, his worth she’ll prove.

Sé mo laoch mo ghile mear,
Sé mo Shaesar ghile mear;
Suan ná séan ní bhfuaireas féin,
Ó luadh i gcéin mo ghile mear.

Whoever is brave, whoever is free,
Will join and come along with me;
Oh Geordie we’ll beat, he may not stay,
Or take to his heels and run away.
Over the mountains high and steep,
Over the waters wide and deep;
Oh Séarlas Óg will win the day,
Over the hills and far away.


She hopes to see her love one day,
When bells shall ring and drums shall play;
Pipes will skirl and bugles play,
Over the hills and far away.
Peace, your olive branch extend,
And bid mad war its ravage end;
Man to brother, man to meet,
And as a brother kindly keep.

Refrain Translation:
He is my hero my Ghile Mear,
He is my Caesar my Ghile Mear;
Sleep or happiness I have not,
Since my Ghile Mear has gone away.
[Mo Ghile Mear – my bright hero
that is: Bonnie Prince Charlie]


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s