By the Dawning of the Day

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  • Teideal (Title): By the Dawning of the Day.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 853905.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 370.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): P16.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): Irish and 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): 25/09/1979.
  • 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.

Fáinnín Bán an Lae – well now, this is supposed to be a man who met a sí ghaoithe – beautiful girl who happened to be one of the ‘good people.’ And after he proposed to her, you know, she said ‘I must be away now, the daylight is just coming through, it’s the dawning of the day.’ And she just disappeared from view…

Ar maidin moch dár ghabhas amach faoi bhruacha Locha Léin
Bhí an samhradh ag teacht ‘s an chraobh lena ais is lonnradh te ón ngréin
Ag taisteal dom thrí bhailte poirt agus bánta míne réidh
Cé gheobhainn lem ais ach an cúilfhionn deas le fáinnín bán an lae.

One morning early as I roved out by the margin of Loch Léin
The summer sun was sinking fast, and autumn loomed again
I left the town and wandered off through fields all rich and rare
And who should I meet but my own colleen by the dawning of the day.

Ní raibh bróg ná stoca, caidhp ná cloakar mo stóirín óg ón spéir
A falt fín ór síos go troigh ag fás go barr a néill
Bhí calán crúite aice ina glaic ‘s ar dhrúcht ba dheas an scéimh,
‘S do thug barr gheana ó Bhénus deas le fáinnín bán an lae.

No cap no cloak did my love wear, her neck and feet were bare
And o’er her lily-white shoulders hung her lovely golden hair.
A milking-pail was in her hand; she was lovely, young and gay
And she stole a pass from Venus grand by the dawning of the day.

And I sat me down on a mossy bank with this maiden by my side.
With gentle words I courted her, and asked her to be my bride.
She said, ‘Young man, don’t bring me pain, but let me go away,
For the morning light is shining bright – it’s the dawning of the day.’


Before singing the song, Joe explains to Lucy that he heard it sung at home in Carna by both his father – who sang both the English and Irish verses – and by an aunt, his father’s sister, Máire Ní Éinniú, who sang only the Irish text. He says that his aunt used a less common air – the first one heard in this excerpt – than the one usually associated with this song, and explains that he would himself prefer to use her air, except that it doesn’t work so well with the English verses. The second, better-known air is the one used by Luke Kelly and a host of others to the song of the same title that begins On Raglan Road…

The second and fourth stanzas provide a fairly close translation of the preceding verses in Irish, so a literal translation has been omitted here.

For discussion of the Irish poem, see T. Ó Concheanainn, Nua-Dhuanaire III (Dublin 1978), p. 48 and notes.