Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ar Eirinn Ni Neosainn Ce Hi

Radio show To the Point had a segment yesterday (45 min in) on disappearing languages, including Irish Gaelic. That makes this year's St. Patrick's Day choice especially appropriate.

"Ar Eirinn Ni Neosainn Ce Hi" is one of the prettiest songs I know. Back in college, I learned it phoenetically, although not having a set of lyrics nor instruction in Gaelic, I'm sure my rendition was a bit rough. Here's the Tommy Makem & Liam Clancy version I know best. (The poem at the start is called "The Planter.")



Here's one translation:

"Ar éirinn Ní n-Eósainn Cé h-í"

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.


Last night as I strolled abroad
On the far side of my farm
I was approached by a comely maiden
Who left me[? 'sinn' = 'us'] 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.

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.


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.

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.


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.


Here's Liam again, although the video's squeezed, and the audio is okay but not great:



Maria McCool's version:



The High Kings:



The Dubliners (banjo instrumental):



Seán Maguire (violin insturmental):



Happy St. Paddy's Day.

(Cross-posted at Blue Herald)

Update: This post still gets intermittent traffic, so I thought I'd pass on that if you're looking for the Makem & Clancy version lyrics, you're better off with this version, from here. (Apparently, the version above is from Mary O'Hara's book, A Song for Ireland.)

Ar Eirinn Ni Neosainn Ce Hi

Areir 's me 'g tearnnamh ar neoin
Ar a' dtaobh eile 'en teora seo thios
Do thaobhnaigh an speirbhean im chomhair
Dfhaig taomanac, breote, lag tinn
Le haon ghean da mein is da clo
Da breithre 's da beol tanai binn
Do leimeas fe dhein dul 'na treo
Is ar Eireann ni neosainn ce hi.

A gradh ghil bi pairteach liom fhein
Is go hairithe da mbeidir liom scriobh
Beinn ag gaire le ban-chnois na gcraobh
Da bhfaighinn airithe o eine ce hi
Nil a cairde ro-shasta liom fhein
Cun arus a dheanamh na tias
Ach ma tha si d'reir raite mo bheal
Ni nair dom a leamh duit ce hi.

Irish Gaelic speakers and scholars are most welcome to lend their expertise, of course.

5 comments:

Comrade Kevin said...

Same to you!

Suzan said...

Absolutely soul stirring.

I'm listening to them all.

Thank you, friend!

Suze

Claire said...

Thank you for this, the complete lyrics are hard to find on the internet. I believe the song was probably popularised by the great Nioclás Tóibín. (The link contains audio, not that particular song unfortunately.)

Claire said...

Oh, I forgot to say, regarding the fourth line of the first verse:
D'fhág taomanach breóite lag sinn.
Tóibín sings "tinn" (tinn=ill, sick) instead of "sinn". This makes more sense as it would translate as
Who left [me] distraught, weak and ill.

Batocchio said...

Cool! Thanks, Claire! I think that translation was from one of the YouTube posters.