On March 18th, 1835, a James Murphy was hanged for murder in Rosbercon, Co. Wexford (not too far from Clonmel). Whether this is the James Murphy who narrates this song, I am unsure, but it seems to fit the bill. Here’s a sean-nós song about this sad man’s last day on earth, sung by Eilís Ní Chonghaile.
Amárach Lá ‘le Pádraic
Amárach Lá ‘le Pádraic, an chéad lá den tseisiún
Is crua fuar an lá é – ní cruaichte é ná an chinniúint.
Tá na mionnaí ag tíocht anuas orm ‘s tá go leor leor dá gcruthú
Séard dúirt ceannfort na ndaoine uaisle gurb é an róipín mo chruthú.
‘S a dhriotháirín dhílis tabhair abhaile mo hata,
Mo stocaí ‘s mo bhróga ‘s mo chóitín donn daite.
Aithris do mo mháithrín atá le ráithe ar a leaba
Gurb é an róipín caol cnáibe atá in áit mo charabhata.
The Irish Traditional Music Archive has a HUGE collections of videos recorded at Sean-Nós Cois Life festival of singing from 2001-2012. It’s a joy to just let them roll on by one after one, especially when you come across the amazing Ciarán Ó Gealbháin. I’ve loved his singing since his time with Danú.
About the song, John Daly says in the notes of The Irish Language Miscellany (1876):
“The Fair of Windgap, the subject of the above song, is held in a village distant about four miles from Clonmel, then in the County of Waterford. The author was Tomás Ó Móráin, or Tomás an Bhodhráin, so called from his propensities as an expert player on the tambourine, and on that account was present at every social and merry-making meeting in the county, principally May Boys, to which he was particularly attached. His account of the commodities sold at the fair is most humorous, far outdoing the famous Donnybrook of old, with all its devilries….”
Aonach Bhearna na Gaoithe
Bhí diversion aerach ar an aonach, mórchuid aeir is aoibhnis
Ceolta néata, spórt is scléip, feoil á gléasadh chun bídh ann
Bhí whiskey is ale ann, fíon Geneva, branda craorach bríomhar
Plúr na déise, arán sinséar, is cáis ar scales á ndíol ann.
’San rabhdalam raindí, rabhdalam raindí, rabhdalam raindí réidí
Rabhdalam raindí, rabhdalam raindí, is mallaithe an dream tincéirí
This song was one of my first introductions to the sean-nós tradition. It was from the singing of the fabulous Lillis Ó Laoire on the amazing album Celtic Tales and Tongues. If you don’t own the recording, do yourself a favor and pick it up – tradition songs in Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and Breton. I’d also recommend the version by Mary Dillon on her 2013 release North. The song is another of the thousands of sorrowful emigrant songs. Here’s a new take on it from Ciara McCrickard of At First Light.
*Aird Uí Chuain/Ardicoan is County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Aird Uí Chuain
Dá mbeinn féin in Aird Uí Chuain
In aice an tsléibhe atá i bhfad uaim
B’annamh liom gan dul ar cuairt
Go gleann na gcuach Dé Domhnaigh
Is iomaí Nollaig a bhí mé féin
I mBun Abhann Doinne is mé gan chéill
Ag iomáin ar an trá bháin
‘Is mo chamán bán ins mo dhorn liom
Agus och och Éire ‘lig is ó,
Éire lionn dubh (melancholy) agus ó,
‘Sé mo chroí ‘tá trom ‘s bronach.