Amhrán Shéamuis Uí Chonchubhair as Árainn

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  • Teideal (Title): Amhrán Shéamuis Uí Chonchubhair as Árainn.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): none.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): CBÉ T0359 and CC 016.011
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): none.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): Irish.
  • Catagóir (Category): lore; song.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Leo Corduff.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 1967.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): unavailable.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): unavailable.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Séamas Ennis’ transcription (original handwritten document)

The handwritten sheetmusic for this song.
The original sheetmusic.

Dá bhfaighinnse culaith éadaigh a mbeadh ór a’ sileadh léi
Ar chúntar dán a dhéanamh a’ moladh an chreidimh gall
Ní bhfaighinnse ó mo chroí istigh sliocht Liútair a mholadh ar aon chor
A d’iompaigh ar a lámh chlé is a thréig Mac na nGrást.
Nárbh olc an caraid dhomsa in áit m’anam bheith dhá stiúradh
Cnagaire de dhúthaigh ar chúntar dhá bhfaighinn
Mo chreideamh féin a phlúchadh mar a dhéanfadh mada dúchais
Is a bheith arís go cúthail in aimsir a’ cúntais a thabhairt ann.

Siúd é an fear nár shantaigh maoin, capaill, ba ná gamhna,
jewels ar bith dhá bhreátha; níor chuir sé iontu spéis.
Níor chuir sé suim i mnaoi dá bhreátha cé gur daor a chuaigh a chlann air,
Dhoirt sé fuil a chroí mar gheall orthu le sláinte a thabhairt dóibh.
Ach an dream nár ghéill dhá mháthair is í dhearc ar chrann na páise é,
Ór a’ tsaoil is faighimse is ní ghráódh mo chroí leo,
Ach a Rí ’tá ar Neamh i bParthas ós agatsa atá na grásta
Nára chuire tú aon cheo ’na n‑aigne a chaillfeas dóibh do ghlóir.

’Sí Máire an bhean nár smaoinigh ariamh ar pheacaí a dhéanamh
Ach ar nós na n‑úllaí aoibhinn bhíonns ar thaobh deas na gcrann.
Is gur fhás an brainse thríthe le solas a thabhairt daoibhse
Is gur beart de réir a saothair bhéas go cinnte againn le fáil.
Is a pheacachaí ná síligh gur anuas ón chine daonna,
Shíolraigh an leanbh Íosa fuair aoibhneas na ngrást,
Is gur chaith an t‑athair naofa bliantaí cheithre mhíle
Le soitheach glan a dhéanamh a d’iompródh é trí ráithe.


If I were to get a suit of clothes made of gold
On account of composing a poem in praise of the protestant religion,
I could never find it in my heart to praise the followers of Luther,
Who have turned their backs and betrayed the Son of Grace.
Wouldn’t it be a poor thing if instead of allowing my soul to be guided
That in return for getting a smallholding of land,
I were to extinguish my faith like a wild dog,
And then remaining quiet when it was time to pay the reckoning.

That was the man who coveted nothing – riches, horses, cows nor calves,
Nor jewels however beautiful; he took no interest in them.
He took no interest in woman, however lovely, although his family condemned him strongly [for it],
He spilled his heart’s blood for them to bring them to salvation.
But those who did not yield to his Mother as she beheld him on the cross?
If I were to get the world’s gold my heart couldn’t love them,
But, King in paradise on high, since it’s you who have the grace,
Put nothing in their minds that will cost them your glory.

Mary is the woman who never thought to sin,
But like the beautiful apples on right hand side of the tree,
And that the branch grew through her to give you light
And that it’s the fruit of her labour that we are sure to have.
Sinners, don’t think for a minute that it’s from the human race
That the baby Jesus sprang, who received the beauty of the graces!
The holy father spent four thousand years
To create a clean vessel that would carry him for three seasons.


By Míċeál Ó Loċlainn

By the time of the Great Famine, several attempts had already been made by various Protestent missionary organisations to proselytise the Irish people. One of the techniques used was to establish schools in which the overriding aim was the conversion of the pupils — getting them young, as it were. It was envisaged that they in turn would go on to ‘seed’ Protestantism throughout the wider population. As one Reverend Roderick Ryder put it: two thousand children now attending the schools are so many little missionaries, reading the Word of God to their parents and relatives. (Cited in Soupers and Jumpers (p.29) by Miriam Moffitt.)

With the advent of the Famine, some of these societies — though by no means all — evolved the tactic of feeding their charges but only on the condition that they accepted the Protestant religious instruction. In other words, life-saving food in exchange for religious conversion. As the families concerned were invariably poor, they found themselves in an impossible position. Those whose declined this benificence would probably starve to death. Those who accepted it — ‘soupers’, ‘jumpers’, súpaerí, cait bhreaca et‑c — would probably live but at a terrible cost: they would be made pariahs by their own communities and the stigma was likely to persist generationally. To this day, the term / insult ‘souper’ is an ugly one in Ireland.

In this recording, Joe tells us about Séamus Ó Conchubhair, a poet in Famine-time Árainn.

Few islanders had ‘taken the soup’, so the resident minister approached the poet, offering him a 25 acre holding of land in exchange for writing a song in praise of the Protestant religion and in condemnation of the Catholic one*. Like the rest of the general population, Ó Conchubhair was very poor and was torn between relieving his poverty and staying true to his religious faith. When he went to bed that night, he had a dream in which he saw his soul being weighed and when he awoke in the morning his black hair had turned grey. He went to the priest, told him about the dream and asked his advice. Did the good outweigh the bad? asked the priest. It did said Séamus. Then go home said the priest. You know what you have to do. Séamas went home and composed a song that was the direct opposite of the one the minister had asked for.

Joe then sings the song.

*It must be remembered that at the time of the Famine, and for many decades after, fireside song and storytelling — the oral tradition — were the main staples of home entertainment in rural Ireland. The poets were the main creative force of the day and while they weren’t afforded the high status that had been enjoyed by the Bards prior to the Flight of the Earls, they were still widely respected. So comissioning this kind of a song for this kind of purpose is entirely comparable to comissioning some kind of celebrity-heavy, agenda-biased, prime time television show for a similar purpose to‑day.

The audio recording available on this page was made by Leo Corduff in 1967 but the transcription was done in 1942, 25 years earlier, by Séamas Ennis; apparently at Oireachtas na Gaeilge. Ennis took the song directly from Joe, who told him that he’d learned it from his aunt, Máire Ní Éighnigh. See Cnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann 1280, pp. 63–7.

The Cartlanna are grateful to Cnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann for permission to make both Corduff’s audio recording (CBÉ T0359) and Ennis’ transcription (CBÉ manuscript CC 016.011) available here.