Róisín Dubh (1)
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- Teideal (Title): Róisín Dubh (1).
- Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 854011.
- 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.
Is fada an réim a lig mé léi ó inné go inniu
A’ siúl sléibhte ‘mo chadhain aonraic — ní raibh aon neach liom
Loch Éirne, chaith mé de léim í, cé go m’ard a bhí a sruth
Ó, tá m’anam gléigeal ligthe de léig a’m le mo Róisín Dubh.
Ó, a Róisín, ná bíodh brón ort ná cás anois
Tá do phárdún ón bPápa — ón Róimh uile
Tá na bráithre thar sáile le cabhrú linn
Ó, ná spáráil fíon Spáinneach ar mo Róisín Dubh.
Dhá mbeadh seisreach agam is deas a threabhfainn in aghaidh an chnoic
Dhéanfainn seanmóir ar an altóir mar a hordaíodh dhom
Thabharfainn póg nó dhó don chailín a lig a hóige liom
Ó, dhéanfainn cleas deas ar chúl an easa le mo Róisín Dubh.
Beidh an Éirne ina tonnta tréana, beidh an spéir ina fuil
Beidh na bráithre bána thar sáile le cabhrú linn
Beidh gach gleann sliabh ar fud Éireann is a móinte ar crith
Lá éigin sula n-éagfaidh mo Róisín Dubh.
It’s a long course I’ve followed with her from yesterday until today,
Walking the mountains all alone, with no one for company.
I leapt Lough Erne in a single bound, although it was running high;
My pure soul has fallen into neglect on account of my Dark Little Rose.
Róisín, don’t be sorrowful or worried;
Your pardon is coming from the Pope and from all of Rome,
The Brothers from overseas to help us.
Oh! don’t stint Spanish wine for my Róisín Dubh.
If I had a team [of horses] I would neatly plow the hillside;
I would make a sermon on the altar as I was ordered;
I would give a kiss or two to the girl who gave me her youth;
I’d play a nice trick behind the waterfall with my Róisín Dubh.
Lough Erne will be stormy, the sky will be blood-red;
The White Brothers will come overseas to help us;
In every valley and hillside in Ireland the bogs will be trembling
Someday before my Róisín Dubh dies.
As Joe points out on a number of occasions, Róisín Dubh is a metaphor for Ireland. The song is one of a number of metaphorical compositions in which Ireland was given the name of a woman — not only for aesthetic reasons, but more practically to get round the prohibition on songs about Ireland which the English rulers assumed — no doubt correctly — would encourage nationalist aspirations among the Irish.
Although sometimes attributed to the nineteenth-century Galway poet Antaine Ó Raifteirí, the song probably dates from a good deal earlier; and while it has been translated, by both James Clarence Mangan and Pádraig Pearse, the song is normally sung in Irish.
Joe pointed out to Jim Cowdery and others that there were two airs to this song. This version is commonly heard in Conamara — the song appears on commercially-available recordings by Dara Bán Mac Donnchadha and Sorcha Ní Ghuairim, as well as on three of Joe’s. Séamas Ennis transcribed this version from Joe for the Irish Folklore Commission in 1942, and indicated that Joe had learned it from Dara Bán’s father, Sean Choilm Mac Donnchadha, who lived next door to the Heaneys’ house in Áird Thoir; see CBÉ manuscript 1280: 329–30, and CC 018.005.
Before he began singing, Joe was in the habit of reciting the first stanza of Mangan’s translation to the audience, as a way of putting them into the right frame of mind:
O my Dark Rosaleen,
Do not sigh, do not weep!
The priests are on the ocean green,
They march along the deep.
There ‘s wine from the royal Pope,
Upon the ocean green;
And Spanish ale shall give you hope,
My Dark Rosaleen!
My own Rosaleen!
Shall glad your heart, shall give you hope,
Shall give you health, and help, and hope,
My Dark Rosaleen!
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), 67–69.