Play recording: Púcán Mhicil Pháidín
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- Teideal (Title): Púcán Mhicil Pháidín.
- Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 854005.
- 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): Gerald Shannon.
- Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): unavailable.
- Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): unavailable.
- Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): concert.
- Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
- Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.
‘S a chiall le Dia1 nár bhreá í, sí púcán Mhicil Pháidín
An lá ar fhág sí crumpán Charna2 is é ina ghála mhór
Dheamhan bhréig atá mé ag rá libh ach an fharraige bhí sí a cháthadh
Go dtiteadh sé ‘na bháisteach ar dhá thaobh an chuain.
‘Gabháil síos ag Droim an Mhaoilín3 di bhí púcán Bhaibsín roimpi ann
Bhí sí réitithe amach ag líonta ‘s í amhlaidh le haghaidh seoil
Séard dúirt Mister Casey as Maoinis, ‘Tá sí déanta ó thogha na saortha,
Is níl aon bhád ar an líne seo a bhuailfeas í chun seoil.’
‘S i Roundstone lá arna mhárach bhí cabaireacht is sárú ann
Is d’ordaigh sagart Charna iad a chur timpeall Sceirde Mór4.
Ní raibh na naoi gcinn timpeall ó cholbha Chruach na Caoile5
Nuair a bhí púcán Mhaoinse stríocthaí ‘s a chuid fear i dteach an óil.
Agus molaimse an saol a raibh an chraobh ag meilsceán Mhaoinse6
Ar an taobh seo aniar ó Inbhear7, le aoibhneas deá-bhád seoil.
‘S nárb’ éard dúirt Micil Pháidín nach raibh suim ar bith sa ngeall aige
Ach an bhratach a bheith in airde ‘s í ag seoladh aniar an cuan.
Is buachaillín ciúin mánla a bhí in Micil Pháidín
De réir mar dúirt a dhream liom bhí sé rí-mhaith i dteach an óil.
Bhí eolas ar a dhream a’m, i dtaobh athar agus máthar,
Dheamhan bréag nach gcroithfí lámh leo ‘gabháil sráid an bhaile mhóir.
‘S tá cailín óg in Árainn, thug sí cúpla míle anall léi,
Thug sí grá do Mhicil Pháidín seachas a bhfaca sí d’fhir fós
Ach anois tigheacht don Fhéile Pádraig beidh eallach, ba ‘s báid a’inn
Is tá a fhios ag an saol láimhe8 nach dochar dúinn braon a ól.
God knows she was a lovely sight, Micil Pháidín’s púcán,
When she set out from the inlet at Carna with a gale blowing.
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that the sea was a froth of spume,
And then it started raining on both sides of the bay.
As she reached Droim an Mhaoilín, Baibsín’s boat was ahead of her –
all her lines were ready and she was all decked out for sailing.
But Mr. Casey from Mynish said, ‘She was made by the best of shipwrights,
And there’s no boat in this regatta that will beat her under sail.’
In Roundstone the next morning there was lots of talk and argument,
And the Carna priest ordered that they be sent round Sceirde Mór.
The nine of them were hardly around the side of Cruach na Caoile
When the Mynish boat was home and her crew in the pub!
Hooray for the time that the victory went to Mynish
On this side east from Inver, with the pleasure of a good sailboat!
And didn’t Micil Pháidín say that he had no interesting in the betting,
But only that the flag should be flying and she sailing up the bay.
Micil Pháidín was a quiet, mannerly lad –
From what his people told me he was generous in the public house.
I knew his family on both his father’s and his mother’s sides,
And there’s no doubt you’d shake hands with them if you met them in town.
There’s a young girl in Aran – she brought a couple thousand over with her –
She loves Micil Pháidín best of any man she’s seen yet.
But now with St Patrick’s Day coming, we’ll have livestock, cows and boats;
And everybody knows that a drop of drink’s no harm.
1. While this appears to be an accurate transcription, and the general sense of it is clear enough, this is not an expression with which any of the Carna informants are familiar. It may have come to Joe on the spur of the moment. In his commercially-recorded performance of this song, the first line goes: ‘S a Dhia nárbh úd í an áilleacht, sí púcán Mhicil Pháidín… ‘Oh, God, wasn’t she the beauty, Micil Pháidín’s púcán…
2. A crumpán is an inlet; today there is a quay built at Carna’s crumpán near the bottom of the peninsula between Roisín an Bholgáin and Roisín an Chaltha.
3. A physical feature of Oileán Mhaoinse (Mynish Island) that would have provided a landmark for sailors.
4. A rocky outcrop (skerry) some miles out to sea to the south and west of Carna.
5. A roughly triangular island that lies due east of Carna quay at the bottom of Cuan na Beirtrí Buí. The colbha is the north-eastern point of the triangle. Presumably the boats approaching from Sceirde Mór would have rounded Cruach na Caoile from the southwest before turning for home.
6. Meilsceán ‘eel-grass’ is a kind of seaweed that grows near the western shore of Mynish near the graveyard. This is where Mynish sailors prepared their boats before setting off – thus, the victory went to the place with which the winning boat was associated.
7. An estuary, of which there are many in western Conamara. Several locals were asked, but none could give a precise location for the one mentioned here.
8. While local informants agreed that this was the correct transcription, they also agreed that it doesn’t make much sense. One person suggested that the original expression might have been síol Éabha ‘the seed of Eve’ – meaning everybody who’s ever lived; another thought it might be saor láimhe, referring to a boatwright, a craftsman who worked with his hands. All that can be said with certainty is that oral transmission frequently gives rise to such uncertainties.
‘Púcán Mhicil Pháidín’ is attributed to Seán Bacach Ó Guairim, a late nineteenth-century poet from Leitir Ard, in the district immediately to the west of Carna. A púcán is the smallest of the Galway hookers; single-masted wooden sailing-boats formerly used for fishing and haulage of cargo (turf, seaweed, animals, provisions, poitín etc) up and down Galway Bay. The bád mór, leathbhád, and gleoiteog differ in terms of size. The púcán also has different rigging. Since the 1970’s the hookers have undergone a considerable revival, and there are regattas all over Conamara every summer between June and September. The Galway Hooker Association provides a good starting-point for those interested in finding out more about this important aspect of Conamara life, past and present. These boats have been much celebrated in song; see Ríonach uí Ógáin, ‘In Aghaidh Farraige agus Feothain’: Amhráin Mholta Bád ó Chonamara’ in Ruairí Ó hUiginn (ed.) Foinn agus Fonnadóirí, Léachtaí Choilm Cille 29 (1999), 37-66.
It is worth noting that, as far as we can discover, Joe generally avoided singing what he called ‘local songs’ – of which this would have been one – during his time in the United States, preferring to present songs that would be understandable to people whose only sense of Ireland was that of the island (or nation) as a whole. The only song connected with sailing that he sang regularly in America was The Queen of Conamara, a song of a somewhat literary flavour that he often paired with ‘Óró, Mo Bháidín’ – a song about a currach – when telling his audiences about boats, fishing and the life of the sea.
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), 37-40.
This recording was made by Gerald Shannon before a live audience, probably in Ireland.