Eileen Aroon

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  • Teideal (Title): Eileen Aroon.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 844001.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 911.
  • 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): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): song.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Susan Auerbach.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 1982.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, 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.

I know a valley fair, Eileen Aroon
I knew a cottage there, Eileen Aroon
Far in that valley’s shade, I knew a gentle maid
Flower of a hazel glade, Eileen Aroon.

Who is the song so sweet? Eileen Aroon
Who in the dance so fleet? Eileen Aroon
Dear were her charms to me, dearer her laughter free
Dearest her constancy, Eileen Aroon.

Who like the rising day, Eileen Aroon
Love sends his early ray, Eileen Aroon
What makes its dawning glow changeless through joy or woe?
Only the constant know, Eileen Aroon.

Is it the laughing eye? Eileen Aroon
Is it the timid sigh? Eileen Aroon
Is it the tender tone, soft as the stringed harp’s moan?
Oh! It is truth alone, Eileen Aroon.

Youth must with time decay, Eileen Aroon
Beauty must fade away, Eileen Aroon
Castles are sacked in war, chieftains are scattered far
Truth is a fixed star, Eileen Aroon.


This song has been the subject of a good deal of enquiry down the years. The air is associated with the Scottish song Robin Adair, and a good deal of energy has been expended in deriving one song from the other, with the balance falling in favour of the air’s ultimate Irish origin. As to the text, there have been several; the present one appears to be the work of a nineteenth-century versifier, Gerald Griffin (1803–1840), to whom Hy-Brasail, The Isle of the Blest is also attributed. The story associated with Eileen Aroon is generally given as the one associated with Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh and Eleanor Kavanagh. As Joe explained to Lucy Simpson (UW 853907), he used Eileen Aroon (which he learned from a book) in his teaching as an English adjunct to Eileanór a Rún, which he learned at home. In addition, there are several Irish texts to the air Joe sings here; for one such, see an tAthair Tomás Ó Ceallaigh, Ceol na n-Oileán (Dublin, 1931), 131 and notes.

On this occasion, Joe was singing the song for a private student, Susan Auerbach, so that she could hear the air. As the sound of page-turning before the final verse indicates, they were reading the text from a published source.