One Day For Recreation

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  • Teideal (Title): Once I Was Single.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 853916.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 654.
  • 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): English.
  • 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): 28/10/1980.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): private.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

One day for recreation is gan éinne beo ‘ mo chuideachta,
I spied a charming fair maid ina haonar is i siopa istigh.
She was singing like an angel is mé ag éisteacht lena binne-ghuth;
I whispered soft and easy – ‘séard dúirt si, ‘Stad den bheag uirthi!’1
Anonn is anall, a Mháirín, do mhálaí is do bheilteanna
Sí bean na stocaí bána ba bhreá liom ag ioma[i]dh leat.2

Her amber locks so neatly go dréimreach ag titim léi,
A-down her back and waist gur phreab mo chroí le taitneamh dhi.
I asked was she the fair one, a baineadh is a Lúpatar3
Or the brightsome vestal deity chaith mé tréim[h]se seal in Ifreann léi.’4
Anonn is anall, a Mháirín, do mhálaí is do bheilteannaí
Sí bean na stocaí bána a b’fhearr liom ag iomadh liom.

She answered me most daintily, ‘Ní héinne mar do thuigeas mé’5
I fear you are a rake, is ná taobhaigh a thuilleadh mé!’
‘Indeed I am no rake, ná strainséar a bhréagfadh bruinneall seal.
I’m a pupil of Jack Leahey’s, ‘s an áit a gcónaím Mucros.’
Óró a Mháire, a Mháirín, gabh anonn ‘is a Mháire an dtiocfaidh tú
Sí bean na stocaí bána a b’fhearr liom ag imeacht liom.

I asked her who her father was, ‘séard dúirt sí liom, ‘ an ministéar.’
I knew I stood in danger, is gur baolach liom go bhfeicfí sinn!
If I had you in a neat grove, idir Claddach agus Mucros,
Your slattering6 eyes do tease me, Tá fíor mo chroí le taitneamh dhuit.7
‘S anonn is anall, a Mháirín, a Mháirín [indistinct]
Sí bean na gruaige báine a b’fhearr liom a thiocfadh liom

Her syllables so charming is gur bhreá liom bheith ina cuideachta.
Gur bhinne liom ná an chláirseach gach aerphort8 dá seinneadh sí.
‘You’ll get my stock and farm má théann tú liom go Mucros.’
And then she sang most charming, ‘a ghrá geal, I’m fond of you!’
‘Gus óró anall, a Mháirín, a Mháirín an dtiocfaidh tú
Sí bean na gruaige báine ba bh’fhearr liom a thiocfadh leat.

Notes

1. Is é a dúirt sí, ‘stad ded radaireacht’ (she said, ‘stop your flirting’).

2. Watch how the refrain changes throughout the song as Joe tries to bring it closer to his own idiom. In its original form, it goes: ‘Back and forth, Maureen, your bags and your belts, woman of the white stockings, I would like to be in bed (or in competition?) with you’.

3. An bandia úd bhí ag Iúpatar (that goddess of Jupiter’s).

4. A chaith tréimhse seal in Ifreann (who gave a while in Hell). Presumably Euridice?

5. Ní héinne mar do thugais mé (I’m not who you take me for).

6. Sparkling.

7. Trí lár mo chroí tá taitneamh duit (my whole heart takes delight in you).

8. Ardphort (high tune). Joe’s version – which might mean ‘airy tune’ – would make more sense, if it weren’t for the normal translation of aerphort as ‘airport’!

It’s clear from Joe’s performance – and not just from the sound of pages turning – that Joe was reading this song from a printed source. The text is flowery, replete with classical references – probably composed by a country schoolmaster somewhere in Munster. In any case, it’s not the sort of Irish that Joe would have found idiomatic, particularly if he’s reading it for the first time, so it’s hardly surprising that some of the lines come out as gibberish. The footnotes give the text as it probably appeared on the page in front of him, and the translations apply to that text. While we can’t be sure what source he was looking it, a close approximation is to be found in Seán Óg and Mánus Ó Baoill, Ceolta Gael (Dublin 1975), 72.

Unlike the usual air associated with this text (given in Ó Baoill, above), Joe uses the one associated with the Conamara song Máire Mhór, about a memorable local female. Some of the lines from the chorus of that song appear to have been transferred to One Day for Recreation:

Dá bhfeicfeá Máire Mhór is í ag dul siar sráid na Gaillimhe
A tóin in aghaidh na gaoithe is a bolg in aghaidh na farraige
Is óró a Mháire Mhóir, is a Mháire Mhóir an dtiocfaidh tú?
Mura dtige tú mar gheall tú go mbáitear ins an tuille thú!

‘Dá mbeinnse thiar tigh Mharcuis Dick ‘s mo chuid éadaigh a bheith go deas orm
Nach iomaí fear a déarfadh ‘Faraor géar nach tú sa leaba liom!’
Is óró a Mháire Mhóir, is a Mháire Mhóir an dtiocfaidh tú?
Mura dtige tú mar gheall tú go mbáitear ins an tuille thú!

Translated:

You should see Big Mary walking the streets of Galway town,
Her backside to the wind and her belly to the sea!
Oho, Big Mary, Big Mary will you come?
If you don’t come as you promised, may you be drowned in the tide!

‘If I were back at Marcus Dick’s all dressed up,
Wouldn’t every man in the place be saying,
‘Too bad you’re not in bed with me!’
Oho, Big Mary…