Amhrán na Páise

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  • Teideal (Title): Amhrán na Páise.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 781503.
  • 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): Esther Warkov.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 03/1978.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): Interview.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

It tells you about the Garden of Gethsemane. It tells you about the making of bread and wine, the making of communion and wine at the Last Supper. It tells you about how Christ told St Peter he’d deny him three times before the cock crew. And Peter of course said he wouldn’t. They said they’d watch with him in the Garden, and they all fell asleep. And Peter was visiting a house – Thursday, Holy Thursday they call it – and a girl came up to him and asked him, ‘do you know that man they was chasing tonight, to crucify him?’ And Peter said, ‘I never saw him in me life.’ And she asked him again, and he said ‘I don’t know that man.’ He was afraid for himself, nature being what it is. And the third time she asked him, he denied it, and the cock crew – and Peter ran out the door crying.

Now, after the burial of Christ, you know, the Three Marys – Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and John, and [the] Blessed Virgin – came to the tomb on Easter Sunday morning to put something on the wounds of Christ, you know, to leave something under the stone to cure, to help the wounds heal. And they found the tombstone thrown aside. And the Roman soldiers knocked down – They’re looking up at the sky. They couldn’t see anything. And they said they’d never believe he’d risen from the dead. They said some people came and stole it. And somebody else said, ‘There’s nobody could lift that tombstone – not while ye were around here watching.’ And they said, ‘until the chicken that’s boiling in the pot gets up on the table and flaps its wings, we’ll never believe he rose from the dead.’ And they went into the house next door, and the pot was boiling on the fire, and the chicken jumped out of the pot up on the table and started flapping its wing. And St Thomas said, ‘I’ll never believe,’ he said, ‘until I can put my fingers through the holes in his hands and feet.’ And two days after, he [Christ] met Thomas, you know, and he said to Thomas, ‘Thomas, put your fingers through my hand. I feel sorry for your lack of faith,’ [he] said [to] St Thomas.

But anyway, I’ll do the Aiséirí, they call it, the Resurrection, Amhrán na Páise, the Passion Song. And it start off, ‘Is é Íosa an Fíréan, Dia dílis don Athair, a rinne ár gceannacht ón daoirse’ – ‘Jesus Son of the Father, who saved us from eternal damnation.

‘S é Íosa an Fíréan, Dia dílis don Athair
Ó, is é a rinne ár gceannacht ón daoirse;
Nuair a d’fhulaing sé an Pháis agus bás ar an gcroich
Ag tabhairt sásaimh sna peacaí seo a níonns muid.

Tá an t-arán seo déanta i d’fhianaise, a Pheadair,
A Pheadair, caithidh an t-arán seo;
[An] té chaithfeas an t-arán seo, caithfidh sé mise,
Idir fheoil, anam is diachta.

Is aililiú leá is aililiú,
ailiú is aililiú
Má maslaíthear ár gcolainn ní baolach dár n-anam
Ná séanaigí m’ainmse choíche.

Tá an fíon seo déanta i d’fhianaise, a Pheadair,
A Pheadair, ólaidh an fíon seo;
[An] té ólfas an fíon seo, ólfaidh sé an fhuil
A bhí ag tíocht ‘na braonta as mo thaobhsa.


Siúlaigí amach sa ngairdín, a Pheadair,
Tá uaigneas mór ar mo chroí-se;
‘S é meáchan na bpeacaí is ciontach le m’uaigneas
Is fairigí uair liom an oíche seo.

Éirígí suas a tromluí a gcodladh
Ní fada uaim saighdiúir mo dhaoirse
Rinne sibh faillí fanacht ‘na maidin
‘S ní bhfuair [gur] chaith sibh an oíche seo.


Tá sé ráite i dtairgearacht Mhaitiú
Leis an magadh a fuair Íosa
Gur éirigh an coileach a bhí ag fiuchadh sa bpota,
Chuaigh ar an mbord is lig glao as.


Tháinig na trí Muire ar maidin Dé Domhnaigh
Go leigheasfaidís cneácha Íosa.
Chuartaíodar an tuamba thart timpeall go gasta,
Ní bhfuaireadar amharc ar Íosa.

Tháinig an t-aingeal anuas as na Flaithis
Is d’ardaigh an leac ina bhfianaise
Bhí leac ar an tuamba, ní thógfadh céad pearsa í,
Ach thóg an t-aingeal a bhí naofa í.



Following this performance, Joe explained that in his youth this song would have been sung on two occasions during Holy Week. The verses concerning the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane were sung on Holy Thursday; the complete song — adding the two final verses, relating to the Resurrection itself — was sung on Easter Day. In between, on Good Friday, Caoineadh na dTrí Muire was sung, as it was on every Friday during Lent. He stressed that these songs played no part in church-based Holy Week observances during his youth — he didn’t believe that the parish priests even knew of their existence — but were sung at home by his grandmother for immediate family and any of the neighbours who might join them.

Joe placed his religious songs – Amhrán na Páise, Caoineadh na dTrí Muire, and the Christmas Eve song, Oíche Nollag — in a category apart from all the other songs in his repertoire. Intensely personal expressions of faith, all three reflect not only the depth of spiritual devotion but also the reality of pain, deprivation and loss in the community that created them. Performed only privately and limited to specific occasions, their survival depended upon the careful stewardship of individual families. Unfortunately, the attenuation of families through emigration and other social changes meant that fewer and fewer families kept these songs alive down to our own time. Two of them — Oíche Nollag and AAmhrán na Páise — appear to have been uniquely preserved in Joe’s family, and are known only because Joe decided that they should be shared with a wider audience.

Even as he did so, however, he remained adamant that these songs should not — indeed, could not — be translated from the Irish language, and that they should only be performed in a spirit of devotion and reverence for the story they tell. He was particularly concerned that they not be appropriated as ‘entertainment’ by folk singers with guitars.

Recorded while Joe Heaney was Artist-in-Residence at the University of Washington.