Play recording: Brídín Bhéasaigh (Tom Pháidín Tom)
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- Teideal (Title): Brídín Bhéasaigh (Tom Pháidín Tom).
- Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): none.
- Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
- Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): none.
- Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
- Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
- Cnuasach (Collection): none.
- Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): Irish.
- Catagóir (Category): song.
- Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Tom Pháidín Tom Ó Coistealbha.
- Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Séamus Mac Mathúna.
- Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): March 1973 to January 1976.
- Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Multiple venues in Conamara and Dublin.
- Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): Various sessions.
- Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unknown.
- Athchóiriú digiteach (Digital restoration): Fionn Ó Sealbhaigh.
- Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): © Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. All rights reserved.
- Stádas chóipcheart ábhair bhreise (Additional material copyright status): Album artwork and original text © Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. All rights reserved.
NB: This entry was taken from Tom Pháidín Tom, a vinyl album recorded, edited and produced by Séamus Mac Mathúna and released by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
Agus phósfhainn Brídín Bhéasaidh, gan cóta, bróig ná léine,
A stóir mo chroí da bhféadfainn, go dtroisgfinn leat naoi dtrá.
Gan bia gan deoch gan aon chuid ar oileáinín Loch Éirne.
Tú is mé bheith in éinfheacht go réiteóch muid ár gcás.
A ghrua ar dhath na gcaorthann, a chuaicín bháirr an tsléibhe
Do gheallúint ná déan bréagach, ach éirigh roimh an lá
’S in aimhdheoin dlí na cléire, thógfainn thú mar chéile
’S a Dhia már dheas an sgéal sin duin’ ag éaló lena ghrá.
Agus gheit mo chroi le buaireadh, agus scanntra mé naoi n‑uaire
An mhaidin úd dár gcuala mé, nach raibh tú romham le fáil
’S a liachtaí lá faoi shuairceas, chaith tú is mé in uaigneas
’S gan neach ar bith dár gcumhdach ach an crúisgín is é lán.
Dá bhfaghainn amach do thuairisc, dá dtheightheá go bun cruaiche
Rachfhadh an scéal an-chuaidh orm, no leanfhainn do mo ghrá
’S go mbfhearr liom suite sios leat, ar leaba fhraoigh is luachar
Is bheith ag éisteacht leis na cuachaibh bhíonns ar siubhal roimh éirí lá.
’Sé ábhar m’osna ’s m’éagcaoin gach maidin mhoch dá n‑éirim
A chúil na’ lúb ’s na bpéarla nach tú bhí dhom‑sa ’n ann
’S ní iarrfhainn‑se de fhéirín ach tú is mé bheith ’n éinfheacht
In áit éigin ’n ár n‑aonar go leagfainn ort mo lámh.
Sheinnfhin ceol ar théadaibh, dhuit le bárr mo mhéara
Thréigfhinn mná na hÉireann ort is leanfhainn thú sa snámh.
’S dá mbeinn am’ rí na Gréige, nó im’ phrionsa ar na céadtaibh
Bhéarfhainn suas an méid úd, go phéarla ’n bhrollaigh bháin.
Dá bhfeicfeá réalt an eolais ag tiocht chughat ins an mbóthar
Dearfá go mba sheod i, do thógfhadh ceo a’s drúcht
A ghrua dearg mar rósaibh ’s a súil mar drúcht an fhomhair.
A béilin tanaí ró-dheas is a brághaid ar dhath an aoil.
Bhi a dhá chích córa có-chruinn, mhol mé iad ’s ní mór liom
’Na seasamh ag deanamh lóchrainn, is iad ceaptha ós comhair a croí
Tá mé i mbrón ’s in anró ó sgiorr tú uaim thar teorainn
Cidh is fada ó fuair mé comhairle go ngiorróchá ar mo shaol.
Tosóchad shíos i mBreach bhui, ’s rachad go Loch Éirne
Ó Shligeach go bun na Céise béarfhaidh mé mo sgríob
Siubhalfhaidh mé Móin Éile, Corcaigh is Béann Éadair
Is ní sheasfhaidh mé i dTom Gréine nó go dtéighidh mé go Trá Lí
Níl gleanntán cnoic ná sléibhe, ná baile cuain, ’san méid sin
Nach dtreabhfhaidh mé, má fhéadaim, ’s nach n‑ealóidh mé mo mhian
Muna bhfaghaidh mé Bríd ’san méid sin níl agam le rá léi
Ach slán agus beannacht Dé do chur le bláth na súgh-chraobh.
NB: Other than the correction of one or two obvious typos, this is a faithful transcription of the words as given in the sleeve notes.
I’d marry Bridin Vesey
Without coat, boot, or mantle;
Treasure of my heart, if I could,
I would fast for you nine times,
Without food or drink or anything,
On an island in Loch Erne,
Hoping that you and I might be together
Until we settled our case.
O cheek of the colour of the berry,
O cuckoo of the top of the mountain.
Do not belie your promise,
But rise up with the day,
And in spite of the law of the clergy
I’d take you for my spouse,
And, Oh God! what a charming tale ’twould be
A man stealing away with his love.
My heart leapt with trouble,
And I took fright nine times,
That morning that I heard
That you were not to be found before me.
And all the days with merriment
That you and I spent in solitude.
Without anyone watching us
But the jug, and it on the table.
If I could find out news of you,
If you were to go to the foot of the Reek;
The story would be very hard with me,
Or I should cling to my love.
And I should rather be stretched beside you,
With nothing under us but heath and rushes,
Than be listening to the cuckoos
Who are singing at the break of day.
The reason of my moans and my lamenting
Every early morning that I arise,
O girl of the curls and the pearls,
Is, that it is not you who were fated for me;
And I would not ask with you, for a faireen,
Anything but you and me to be together
In some place alone,
So that I might lay my hand on thine.
I would play music upon strings
With the tips of my fingers;
I would forsake all the women of Erin for you,
And I would follow you through the ocean.
And if I were king of Greece,
Or a prince over hundreds,
I would give up all that
To the pearl of the white breast.
If you were to see the Star of knowledge
And she coming on the road,
You would say that she was a jewel
Who would lift mist and enchantment.
Her countenance red, like the roses,
And her eye like the dew of the harvest,
And her thin little mouth, very pretty,
And her neck like the colour of the lime.
Her two pointed, equal round breasts,
I praised them, and I ought to,
Standing, like bright lamps
And they shapen against her heart.
I am in grief and anguish
Since you slipped from me beyond the mearing,
Though it is long since I got advice
That you would shorten my life.
I shall begin down in Breaghwy,
And I shall go to Loch Erne,
And from Sligo to the foot of Kesh Corran
I shall take my course;
I shall walk the Bog of Allen,
And Cork and Ben Edar,
And I shall not stand in Tomgraney
Until I go to Tralee.
There is never a hill nor mountain valley,
Nor harbour town, in all that country,
That I shall not walk if I can,
And that I shall not search for my desire.
And if I do not find Brid in all that
I have nothing to say to her,
But to send a blessing and a farewell and a hundred
To the blossom of the raspberries.
NB: Other than some minor reformatting, this is a faithful transcription of the words as given in the sleeve notes.
Tom Pháidín Tom Ó Coistealbha (cuid 3)
By Máire Ní Neachtain
Máire, a native of Baile ’n tSagairt, knew Tom Pháidín Tom when she was growing up and in this short article she shares some insights and remniscences with us. The piece has been left untranslated but most of the interesting points are echoed in English in the notes below, and in the notes for Tom’s renditions of Baile Uí Laí and An Bonnán Buí.
Comóradh Tom Pháidín Tom
(Ar leanúint ón iontráil An Bonnán Buí)
Tar éis a bháis, cinneadh ar ainm agus oidhreacht Tom a bhuanú i bpobal an Spidéil agus eagraíodh Comórtas Tom Pháidín Tom, comórtas amhránaíochta ina ainm, mar chuid d’Éigse an Spidéil ar feadh na mblianta.
Socraíodh Comóradh Tom Pháidín Tom a dhéanamh den chomórtas sa mbliain 2009 agus bhronntaí gradaim ar amhránaithe mór le rá sean-nóis as na ceantair Ghaeltachta ar fad. Aitheantas a bhí ann do na fonnadóirí ab ansa le daoine ach chomh maith leis sin chuir sé ardán neamhchomórtais ar fáil do fhonnadóirí agus thug deis do mhuintir an cheantair éisteacht le hamhránaithe clúiteacha ina bpobal féin.
Athraíodh an leagan amach arís sa mbliain 2013 agus Laoch an Traidisiúin a gairtear ar an ngradam a bronntar i gcuimhne ar Tom anois. Roghnaíonn coiste na hÉigse pearsa — duine áitiúil go hiondúil — a chuireann le saol ealaíne, cultúrtha nó sóisialta an phobail i gcuimhne ar an gcaoi ar shaibhrigh Tom saol an phobail é féin tréna bhuanna a roinnt go fial ar a mhuintir.
Is saothar ealaíne le Geraldine O’Rourke, ealaíontóir a bhíonn ag obair léi ina stiúideo i gCeardlann an Spidéil, a bronntar. Is píosa é atá bunaithe ar an mBonnán Buí, amhrán a luaitear go mór le Tom, agus is ag seisiún ceoil maidin Domhnaigh a bronntar é i gcuimhne ar na seisiúin bhreátha ar mhaidin an Domhnaigh Tí Hughes; seisúin a mbíodh Tom mar chuid lárnach díobh.
By Míċeál Ó Loċlainn
Compare and contrast
This is one of the series of entries in the Cartlanna which highlight Joe Éinniú’s singing in local, national and international contexts.
The recording held by the Cartlanna of Joe singing Brídín Bhéasaí contains only two verses. It was recorded by James Chowdery at the Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, United States of America, at some time between 1979 and 1981. At the start of the recording, Joe says that
I didn’t sing this song for forty years I suppose and implies that he had a lot of it forgotten.
In this entry, we hear a more complete version of the song, sung by Tom Pháidín Tom Ó Coistealbha (1894–1979*) from Baile ’n tSagairt near An Spidéal, some 40 miles east of Joe’s native district and about 15 miles west of Galway City. The recording was taken from Tom’s 1977 album, Tom Pháidín Tom, recorded, edited and produced by Séamus Mac Mathúna and released by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
Tom Pháidín Tom was released on 33⅓ RPM vinyl and has had, to date, no re-release on CD or on any other format. Interested readers may be able to track down secondhand copies of the thirty-three however.
For readers unfamiliar with Irish, ‘Pháidín’ is pronounced, roughly, ‘faa-deen’; to rhyme with the ‘southern-centric’ Received Pronunciation of ‘far dean’. ‘Baile ’n tSagairt’ is pronounced similar to ‘bile-n-toggirt’. For those familiar with linguistic transcription: /fɑː d′iːn′/ and /bail′ ən tɑgɪrt′/.
*The parish records at Cill Éinde give his precise date of birth as 25th March 1894 and his date of death as 29th November 1979. Glacann muid buíochas leis an Athair Séan Mac Aoidh as ucht an eolas seo a dheimhniú dhúinn.
The sleeve notes for the album were written by Mac Mathúna, John Lewis and Máire Áine (Ní Dhonnchadha, of Deora Aille fame), and are found on both the outer cover and an accompanying eight-page European Fanfold (8½″ × 12″) booklet.
Tom Pháidín Tom: recorded live
The tracks on this album aren’t studio recordings. The sleeve notes state that all recording was done at ordinary music sessions, in Conamara and Dublin, where Tom would be at his ease and where those present would be invested in and receptive to the material:
…ag seisiúin nuair a bheadh cóluadar feiliúnach againn agus Tom féin ar a sháimhín sógha. Na taifeadáin [seo], deineadh iad ag seisiúin éagsúla i gConamara agus i mBlá Cliath idir Márta 1973 agus Eanair 1976.
Interestingly, the songs were recorded over a period of very nearly three years — March 1973 to January 1976 — but unfortunately there’s no listing of when and where each recording took place.
This song was digitised directly from a cleaned, good-condition copy of the vinyl album. It was then digitally restored by Fionn Ó Sealbhaigh at Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge to exise clicks, crackles and surface noise. The restoration process was in most respects the same as that carried out on a 1932 Linguaphone Conversational Irish box set of 78 RPM shellac records for the Coisín Shiúlach project, which celebrates the sean-nós singer Sorcha Ní Ghuairim; a contemporary of Joe Éinniú’s.
Tabhair mo ghrá go Conamara
Commercially released recordings of Tom Pháidín Tom are scarce. He wasn’t a professional recording or performing artist but a singer in the native tradition of his community; so other than his own Tom Pháidín Tom, we were aware only of three guest appearences on other artists’ albums.
- On A Story I’m Just About to Tell (Topic TSCD658), Volume 8 of The Voice of The People. Tom, credited as ‘Tom Costello’, provides track 10: A Grand Conversation On Napoleon. This album was released in 2000 so Tom’s contribution was obviously archive material. We don’t however know when or where it was recorded, or by whom. Note that A Grand Conversation On Napoleon also features as track 3 of Tom Pháidín Tom.
- On The Mist Covered Mountain (Gael Linn CEF 087), Dé Danann’s third studio album. Tom provides guest vocals on track 5, The Banks of the Nile, and track 8, Henry Joy Mc Cracken. The Mist Covered Mountain was released in 1980, the year after he died. While these vocals may also have been archival, it’s actually possible they were recorded specifically for the album. It was in the mid-1970s during regular Sunday morning sessions in Tigh Hughes, a pub in the heart of An Spidéal village and much favoured by traditional singers and musicians*, that Dé Danann came together. Tom was very much a part of that musical scene and was friendly with the band. Research is ongoing…
*Also by lovers of civilised conversation, due to the complete absence of muzak and a television switched on only for the news or the occasional match!
In late 2019 however, Veteran Records released Tabhair mo ghrá go Conamara (Veteran VT162CD), a CD of sean-nós singing from the West-Galway Gaeltacht and a perfect example of native singing traditions finding and cross-fertilising each other, nationally and internationally.
All the songs on this album were recorded ‘on location’ in Galway in the early 1970s by English folk singer Terry Yarnell. Yarnell, a born and bred Eastender, began his musical career in the 1950s playing skiffle but later moved into folk and subsequently became a member of Ewan Mc Coll and Peggy Seeger’s Critics Group. This is significant because, as discussed elsewhere in the Cartlanna (see for instance, this article) one of the regulars at Mc Coll and Seeger’s Singers’ Club was none other than Joe Éinniú. Another was Headford flute player Gabe O’Sullivan, with whom Joe became friendly and indeed went on to make the album Joe & the Gabe with some ten years later.
The Galway recordings came about as a result of discussions within the Critics Group and in 1970 Yarnell (accompanied by his wife Mary, who was from Cork City) and the Gabe were dispatched to do the field work. Of interest to readers of the Cartlanna, on this trip they made recordings of Joe’s neighbour and contemporary, Johnny Joe Pheaitsín (Seán ’ac Dhonncha) and of Tom Pháidín Tom’s first cousin Kate Sheáin Tom (Cáit Uí Chonláin; unfortunately mis-spelt ‘Uí Chonluain’ and ‘Ní Chonluain’ on Tabhair mo ghrá go Conamara).
Further excursions were made to Galway, albeit without the Gabe, and in 1972 Terry and Mary Yarnell made recordings of Joe’s second-cousin Colm Ó Caoidheáin. Colm was from Glinsce, a couple of miles north-east of An Aird Thoir where Joe was born. Joe held Colm in high regard — and with justification. He furnished Séamus Ennis and other collectors for the Irish Folklore Commission with well in excess of 200 songs, in Irish and English, along with a great deal of folklore. It was on this same trip that the Yarnells met and made recordings of Tom Pháidín Tom.
One happy consequence of these recording expeditions is that half a century on, the full list of Tom and Kate’s tracks on Tabhair mo ghrá go Conamara is as follows:
- Tom Pháidín Tom
- Track 5: Mary Le More (The Maniac).
- Track 13: Hynes and Bold Dermody.
- Track 16: Brídín Bhéasaigh (Brídeen Vesey).
- Track 20: Máire Ní Eidhin* (Mary Hynes of Ballylee).
- Track 21: Máire Ní Eidhin — sung in English.
- Kate Sheáin Tom
- Track 6: Saighdiúirín Singil (The Private Soldier).
- Track 14: Coinleach Glas an Fhómhair (The Green Stubble of Autumn).
* Alternative title for Baile Uí Laí.
The Doegen Records Web Project has a recording of Kate Sheáin Tom singing Caisleán Uí Néill, and also some basic biographical information about her.
Terry Yarnell’s field recordings are an invaluable cultural resource and lovers of the tradition are in his debt. They are held by the British Library Sound Archive and many of them are freely-available on-line.
Readers wishing to find out more are directed to the Tabhair mo ghrá go Conamara CD itself and to the excellent booklet, researched and written by Éamonn Ó Bróithe and John Howson, that accompanies it.
Thanks and credits
Glacann muid buíochas le Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, agus le Siobhán Ní Chonaráin go háirid, as cead an taifeadadh seo, clúdach an albaim ⁊ na nótaí clúdaigh a chur ar fáil sna Cartlanna.