Play recording: Caisleán Rí Néill
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- Teideal (Title): Caisleán Rí Néill.
- Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): none.
- Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): CC 016.014.
- 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): song.
- Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
- Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Séamas Ennis.
- Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 1942.
- Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Carna, County Galway, Ireland.
- Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): private.
- Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
- Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.
Séamas Ennis’ transcription (original handwritten document)
Is níl cnocán dhá aeraighe mo léan géar nach n‑aithneoinn mo ghrá
Níl maighdean chiúin chéillidhe mo léan géar nach dteighn orthe cluan
Bhfuil aon fhear beo i n‑Éirinn dhe mo ghaolta ’iocfadh ’ugam ar cuairt?
Is tá mo stóirín go mo shéanadh lé céil’ eile ’s a Mhuire nach truagh.
Unfortunately Séamas Ennis noted down only one stanza of this song, although presumably Joe sang others if he chose this as a competition piece for the Oireachtas. Fuller texts have been recorded from neighbours of Joe’s and can be consulted in Cnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore Collection). See CBÉ 1311:488–91, recorded from Beartla Ó Conghaile, An Aird Thiar, by his son, Eddie Bheairtle in 1952. Also CBÉ 74:238–40, recorded from Seán Choilm Mac Donnchadha, An Aird Thoir, by Joe’s brother Seán Ó hÉighnigh in 1932.
Note that while they appear to share some common verses, Caisleán Rí Néill does not appear to be quite the same song as Caisleán Uí Néill. The latter song, which normally begins ‘Céad slán don oíche aréir, is é mo léan nach í anocht ina tús’, continues to be performed thanks to its having been recorded commercially by a number of people from an early date.
A recording of it, sung by Kate Sheáin Tom of Baile ’n tSagairt near An Spidéal (forty or so miles east of Joe’s native district and about fifteen west of Galway City) was made by Karl Tempel at University College Galway in September 1930 and can be heard at the Doegen Records Web Project. The project also has some basic biographical information about Kate. Closer to home, she’s mentioned here in the Cartlanna under the entry Brídín Bhéasaigh (Tom Pháidín Tom), which features singing by her first cousin Tom.
More recently, Caisleán Uí Néill was performed by Ros Muc singer Jimí Ó Ceannabháin at Oireachtas na Gaeilge 2009. On that occasion, Jimí used the air often heard with the song An Abhainn Mhór; as did Joe.
The Cartlanna are grateful to Cnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann for permission to make Ennis’ transcription (CBÉ manuscript CC 016.014) available here.