Dónal Óg

Play recording: Dónal Óg

view / hide recording details [+/-]

  • Teideal (Title): Dónal Óg.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 853913.
  • 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): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • 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): Lucy Simpson.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 29/05/1980.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): pivate.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): uavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): uavailabl.

The Flight of the Wild Geese. That was… after the Battle of the Boyne, 1691. The people who lost to William of Orange, they couldn’t go back to the lands they left, and as a result, they had two choices – either to be killed, or go away into other European countries. So they went away to France and Spain and Greece. And this song was dedicated to one of them – Dónal Óg, ‘Young Donal.’ It’s a good, solid song.

Is a Dhónail Óig, má théir thar farraige
Tabhair mé féin leat, is ná déan dearmad
Beidh agat féirín lá aonaigh is margaidh
Is beidh iníon rí Ghréige mar chéile leaba leat.

Is gheall tú dhom, agus rinne tú bréag liom
Go mbeifeá romham ag cró na gcaorach
Lig mé fead ort ‘s míle béiceadh
Ach ní bhfuair mé romham ann ach na huain ag méileach.

Is thug mé grá dhuit is mé beag bídeach
Chuir mé barr air is mé mór millteach
Ní shin é an grá a thug an t-uan don chaorach
Ach an grá buan daingean nach féidir a scaoileadh.

Is bhain tú thoir agus bhain tú thiar díom
Bhain tú an ghealach is bhain tú an ghrian díom
Bhain tú an croí atá istigh i mo chliabh díom
Ach is rí-mhór m’fhaitíos gur bhain tú Dia dhíom.

Má thagann tú chugam, teara san oíche
Buail ar an doras nach ndéanann gíosca
Nuair a fhiafróidh mo mháithrín cé dhár dhíobh thú
Ó, abair léi gur siolla den ghaoth thú.


Young Donal, if you cross the ocean,
take me with you – don’t forget!
You’ll have a keepsake on a fair-day and market,
and the daughter of a Greek king for a bed-mate.

You promised me, but you lied to me,
that you’d meet me at the sheep-fold;
I whistled and called a thousand times for you,
but all I got was the lambs bleating.

I gave you my love when I was little,
and even more when I got bigger –
and not the love that a lamb gives its mother,
but everlasting, secure love that can’t be broken.

You have taken east and west from me;
you’ve taken the moon and the sun from me;
you’ve taken the heart from within my breast;
but my greatest fear is that you’ve taken God from me.

If you come, come at night;
knock on the door that doesn’t squeak;
when my mother asks who you are,
tell her that you’re a puff of wind.


This song also appears on the first of Joe’s Gael-Linn recordings (CEF 028) as well as its two subsequent reissues (see discography). It is one of the ‘big songs’ of the Irish repertoire, with versions to be found from all over the country, and over forty stanzas associated with it. Although Joe here refers to an association between the song and the Flight of the Earls (the ‘Wild Geese’) following the Irish defeat at the Battle of the Boyne, it seems likely that the roots of this song go further back than that. In An Grá in Amhráin na nDaoine (Dublin, 1960), Prof. Seán Ó Tuama traces its thematic roots back to the traditions of the amour courtois of twelfth-century Normandy. While there are many love songs in which the man bewails his inability to marry the woman of his choice, this is one of the few in which the woman describes her feelings of loss and betrayal at being abandoned by her suitor.

For additional verses and some discussion, see Ríonach uí Ógáin (ed.), Faoi Rothaí na Gréine: Amhráin as Conamara a Bhailigh Máirtín Ó Cadhain (Dublin, 1999), 224-6; also an tAth. Tomás Ó Ceallaigh, Ceol na n-Oileán (Dublin 1931), 26-8 and notes.