Róisín Dubh (2)
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- Teideal (Title): Róisín Dubh (2).
- Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): none.
- Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): CC 018.005.
- 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.
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
Ní cheilfear fíon Spáinneach ar mo Róisín Dubh.
Tá grá a’m i mo lár dhuit le bliain anois
Grá láidir, grá cásmhar, grá ciapaithe
Grá a d’fhag mé gan áras, gan lúth gan léim gan brí ná rith
Go brách brách beidh gean a’m ar 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.
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.
The Spanish wine won’t be hidden from my Róisín Dubh.
I’ve been deep in love you for the past year now,
Strong, pitiable, tormenting love,
Love that has left me homeless, without speed or leaping or energy or running.
For ever and ever I shall be in love 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, which Joe thought to be of Munster origin, provided the basis for Seán Ó Riada’s score to the 1959 film Mise Éire. Originally published in the Reverend Pádraig Breathnach’s 1923 collection, Ceol Ár Sínsear, it became familiar to generations of children who encountered that volume at school. It has been recorded commercially by Donegal singer Paddy Tunney and a host of more recent performers. It was also sung by Joe Heaney on a number of occasions while he was in the United States, as it would likely have been familiar to at least some members of the audience.
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.