Sceilpín Droighneach, An

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  • Teideal (Title): Sceilpín Droighneach, An.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 850114.
  • 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): James Cowdery.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): between 1979 and 1981.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 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.

JH: But he’s supposed to have fallen into a sort of a mearbhall – a sort of an eerie feeling came over him when he passed this bush, you know, and he saw this beautiful woman, you see.

JC: Like a vision?

JH: A vision, yeah. And he goes on to praise her, you know… The air- It’s a very old song, and this is the old air to it.

Maidin chiúin dár éiríos amach faoi bharr na gcoillte
Tá mé cinnte gur bualadh saighead orm, is mo leigheas níl le fáil
Faoi bhun an sceilpín droighnigh a dhearc mé an ógmhnaoi mheidhreach
Gheit mo chroí le radharc uirthi ach níor éirigh liom í a fháil.

‘A stóirín, ó, ná tréig mé mar gheall ar bha ná caoirigh
a ghaire is a bhéidís ag imeacht uait in imeacht bliain nó dhó
Dhá mba liomsa dúiche an Phaoraigh ba tú mo rogha ‘s mo chéad-searc
Ach is minic a rinne duine gníomh a chlisfeadh ar a ghrá.’


A quiet morning, as I went out into the forest,
I’m sure I was struck by a dart – and there was no cure for me.
Beneath the thorn-bush there I saw the beautiful young woman;
My heart leapt with looking upon her, but I could not attain her.

‘O my treasure, don’t abandon me on account of cattle or sheep,
for they’d be gone soon enough in a year or two.
If I had all of Power’s land, you would be my choice and my first love;
But it’s often that a man did something that betrayed the one he loved.’


From the sound of rustling paper, it seems likely that Joe was looking at a written text when he sang these verses for Jim Cowdery. This was a common practice with them: Jim would express interest in a particular air, and Joe – if he didn’t have the words – would come to a subsequent meeting with the text in hand. In other cases, Jim brought in books of songs and airs, and sometimes Joe would use these as prompts for the words. In this way Jim was able to collect a great many of the airs that Joe knew, but that he either had not sung for a long time, or that had never been part of his active repertoire.

For additional verses and some discussion, see Ríonach uí Ógáin (ed.), Faoi Rotha na Gréine: Amhráin as Conamara a Bhailigh Máirtín Ó Cadhain (Dublin, 1999), 81-3; also an tAth. Tomás Ó Ceallaigh, Ceol na n‑Oileán (Dublin, 1931), 31-3.