Fear a’ Bhàta (The Boatman)

I don’t quite understand how I went the past two years without posting this wonderful, pining song which finds itself in both the Scottish and Irish traditions, with plenty of English language versions as well. It was one of the first songs in Gaeilge/Gàidhlig that I ever heard, and I’ve loved it since.  The video features Karen Matheson with Capercaille.

Sìne NicFhionnlaigh from Tong wrote the song in the late 19th century during her courtship with a young fisherman from Uig, Dòmhnall MacRath. The happy news, according to various sources, is that the two were married not long after she wrote the song

Fear a’ Bhàta

Chorus:
Fhir a’ bhàta, na hóro eile
Fhir a’ bhàta, na hóro eile
Fhir a’ bhàta, na hóro eile
Mo shoraidh slàn leat ‘s gach àit’ an téid thu

‘S tric mi sealltainn on chnoc as àirde
Dh’fheuch am faic mi fear a’ bhàta
An tig thu ‘n-diugh na ‘n tig thu màireach
‘S mar tig thu idir gur truagh a ta mi

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An Eala Bhàn (The White Swan)

This song was composed by Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna during the Battle of the Somme (July 1-November 18, 1916) – a battle in which over one million were wounded or killed. It is addressed to Magaidh NicLeòid (Maggie MacLeod), his sweetheart during the time of the war.

Here it’s sung by Karen Matheson.

An Eala Bhàn

Gur duilich leam mar tha mi
‘S mo chridhe ‘n sas aig bron
Bhon an uair a dh’fhag mi
Beanntan ard a’ cheo
Gleanntannan a’mhanrain
Nan loch, nam bagh ‘s nan srom
‘S an eala bhan tha tamh ann
Gach la air ‘m bheil mi ‘n toir.

A Mhagaidh na bi tursach
A ruin, ged gheibhinn bas-
Co am fear am measg an t-sluaigh
A mhaireas buan gu brath?
Chan eil sinn uile ach air chuairt
Mar dhithein buaile fas
Bheir siantannan na blianna sios
‘S nach tog a’ ghrian an aird.

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Peigi, a Ghràidh (Peggy, My love)

A marvelous performance by Alasdair Codon from the Scottish group Dàimh. The Scottish resource Tobar an Dulchais summarizes the song like this:

In this song the bard praises Peggy, his beloved. He is sailing towards Australia but he will return to her. He praises her and says that he has not met a woman like her anywhere. He will take her to Uist and will provide for her by planting crops, even though he is a seaman. He says that they will marry and laments that he is not with her.

Peigi, a Ghràidh

A Pheigi, a ghràidh, ‘s tu dh’fhàg mi buileach gun sunnd,
‘s mi seòladh an-dràst’ thar sàil an dh’Astràilia null.
Tha ‘n oidhche fliuch fuar, ‘s mi shuas ga cumail air chùrs,
‘s tu daonnan nam smuain a luaidh on dhealaich thu rium.

On dhealaich thu rium neo-shunndach m’aigne gach lath’,
‘s mi seòladh a’ chuain ‘s gach uair gam sgaradh od ghràdh;
Ma thug thu dhomh fuath ‘s nach dual dhomh d’fhaighinn gu bràth,
gu faic thu led shùil a rùin nach fhad bhios mi slàn.

Cho fad ‘s thèid mi null bi dùil ‘am tilleadh a-nall
far an do dh’fhàg mi mo rùn fo thùrs am baile nan Gall;
Gun tèid mi le sunnd a null a dh’Uibhist nam beann
far am faigh mi ort còir le pòsadh ceangailte teann.

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