Cathal Buí agus An Buinneán Buí (1)

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  • Teideal (Title): Cathal Buí agus An Buinneán Buí (1).
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 841421.
  • 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): Joan Rabinowitz.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): unavailable.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Seattle, Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): radio programme.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

A bhuinneáin bhuí, mo thrua thú sínte
Tá do chnámha reoite faoi bhun na dtom
Tá do ghob is do scórnach ar dhath an óir bhuí
Is do bhéilín ró-dheas ‘na leaca lom1.
Dhá gcuirfeá scéala faoi mo dhéin
Rachainn i d’fhéachaint dhá uair roimh lá
Ó, bhainfinn géimneach as leac Loch Éirne
D’fhliuchfainn do bhéilín, is do chroí i do lár.

Ní bó ná gamhna atá mé a’ chaoineadh
An londubh, an chéirseach ná an t-éinín glas2
Ach an buinneán buí a dtug mé gnaoi dhó
Is geall liom féin a shnuadh is a dhath.
Mar bíonn sé i gcónaí a’ síor ól na dí
Is deir siad liom, go raibh mé amhlaigh seal
Dheamhan deoir dhá bhfaighidh mé nach scaoilfead síos é
Ar eagla go bhfaighinn féin bás le tart.

Dúirt mo stór liom, mara ligfinn den ól
Nach mairfinn féin beo ach tamall gearr
Dúirt mé léi ‘ó, tá tú bréagach
Is fad ar mo shaol dom, an braon úd a fháil’.
An bhfaca tú éan an phíobáín réidh
A chuaigh i n-éag le tart ar ball
A cháirde gaeil, ólaidh a bhfaighidh sibh
Dheamhan deoir a ghlaoifaidh sibh le h-éis a mbáis.

Translation

Poor yellow bittern, I’m sorry to see you stretched out there
Your bones frozen beneath the bushes.
Your beak and throat are the colour of yellow gold
and your sweet mouth on the bare stones.
If you sent for me I would come to you two hours before daybreak
I would knock groans out of the slab of Loch Erne
And I would moisten your mouth, and your heart within you.

It’s not a cow or a calf that I’m lamenting
Blackbird, thrush, or heron,
But the yellow bittern that I took a fancy to,
Whose shape and colour are like my own.
For he is everlastingly drinking
And they tell me I was like that, too.
Devil a drink do I get that I don’t down it
For fear that I’d die of thirst!

My sweetheart told me that if I don’t give up the drinking
I’ll only live for a little while.
I said to her, ‘Oh, that’s not true
The drop of drink actually lengthens my life’.
Did you see the bird with the long, smooth throat
That died of thirst a while ago?
Dear friends, drink all that you get
You’ll never call for a drop after you’re dead!

Notes

1. The sense of this line is unclear, likely owing to the vicissitudes of oral transmission. Breandán Ó Buachalla’s edition of the poem gives the line as thú bheith sínte ar leacaibh lom (you being stretched out on bare stones).

2. There’s some uncertainty regarding the species referred to here as an t‑éinín glas (literally, ‘the little grey bird’, although the ‑ín suffix is frequently used to convey fondness or affection, with no reference at all to size). Ó Buachalla’s edition gives an chorr ghlas , which is the heron.

An Buinneán Buí includes other verses that Joe did not record on this occasion. One of them appears on two of his commercial recordings however: Ó Mo Dhúchas and Nár Fhagha Mé Bás Choíche. It is given here for completeness.

Is beidh an lá amáireach, mar an Domhnach
Is tá mo phócaí féin fann go leor
Siad mná an ósta a chráigh go mór mé
Ach le méid a d’ól mé, liath mo cheann.
Níl ní dá bhreátha anuas ón Ard Rí
A dtabharfainn biorán air dá bhfaighinn de braon.
Ach a Rí na nGrásta, nach mór an feall é
Nach dtug tú féin fáil dom ar léamh mo chroí.

This can be translated as:

Tomorrow will be like a Sunday
And my pockets are empty enough.
It’s the landladies who have me tormented
The amount I’ve drunk has made me go gray.
There’s nothing, however beautiful, on this earth
That I’d give a pin for if I’d get a drink from it;
But God of Graces, isn’t it a great pity
That you gave me no insight into my own heart.

Séamas Ennis transcribed this song from Joe for the Irish Folklore Commission in 1942; see CBÉ manuscript 1280:331-2 and CC 018:006. Joe told Ennis that he learned the song from his next door neighbour, Seán Choilm Mac Donnchadha.

For additional verses and some discussion, see an tAth. Tomás Ó Ceallaigh, Ceol na n‑Oileán (Dublin, 1931), 56-7 and notes.

Although extant documentation gives the 10th October 1984 as the recording date, it is more likely to be the broadcast date of the radio programme as Joe died in may of that year.