Mo Ghile Mear (English translation)

Proofreading requested
Gaelic (Irish Gaelic)

Mo Ghile Mear

Seal da rabhas i m' mhaighdean shéimh,
's anois i' m' bhaintreach chaite thréith,
Mo chéile ag treabhadh na dtonn go tréan
De bharr na gcnoc is i n-imigéin.
'Sé mo laoch, mo ghile mear,
'sé mo chaesar, gile mear,
suan ná séan ní bhfuaireas fhéin
ó chuaigh i gcéin mo ghile mear.
Bímse buan ar buairt gach ló,
ag caoi go cruaidh 's ag tuar na ndeór
mar scaoileadh uaim an buachaill beó
's ná ríomhtar tuairisc uaidh, mo bhrón.
Ní labhrann cuach go suairc air neóin
is níl guth gadhair i gcoillte cnó,
ná maidín shamhraidh i gleanntaibh ceoigh
ó scaoileadh uaim an buachaill beó.
Marcach uasal uaibhreach óg,
gas gan gruaim is suairce snódh,
glac is luaimneach, luath i ngleo
ag teascadh an tslua 's ag tuargain treon.
Is cosúil é le hAonghus Óg,
le Lughaidh Mac Chéin na mbéimeann mór,
le Conchubhar cáidhmhac Náis na nós,
taoiseach aoibhinn Chraoibhe an cheoil.
Ach seinntear stair ar chlairsigh cheoil
is líontair táinte cárt ar bord
le hintinn ard gan chaim, gan cheo
chun saoghal is sláinte d' fháil dom leon.
ó luadh i gcéin mo ghile mear.
Submitted by michealtmichealt on Thu, 22/12/2016 - 22:11
Last edited by michealtmichealt on Tue, 14/03/2017 - 16:53
Submitter's comments:

An interesting collection of accents here.
The Chorus is sung by all six singers. Each singer has one stanza to sing alone.
This is a fairly modern song, put together some time after 1971. But all the words (except perhaps part of the chorus) were written in the middle of the 18th century, and the 20th century song came from putting together stanzas from two or more different poems by Seán (Clárach) Mac Domhnaill and some from songs which may have been written by him or may not, but are at least quarter of a millennium old. And the six stanzas here are not the whole song, there are quite a few more - but six stanzas and choruses is probably as long as modern audiences will accept, so most versions performed are shorter than this version.
The chorus sometimes has "chuaidh" and sometimes "luadh" in the last line - and in the final chorus, where the line is repeated, it has one of each. My hearing of Irish when six people with five diffeent accents are singing is not good enough to get which chorus has which word accurately, but I think the first five are all "chuaigh" and "luadh" comes in right at the end.

I suppose it's inevitable that someone will ask why I've named Iarla as the main artist and the others featured, so I had better explain. First, these six never had a name as a group - they did this one song together as part of the TV series "The Highland Sessions" which has now been made into a (DVD) album; and each of them did other bits in that series, as did 24 other singers, so that using the name of the series to identify just this group wouldn't work. And listing all six names as a single artist probably wouldn't work either. So I picked the one of the six who had, as a child, been present when the 20th century song was created and had been a member of the choir which first sung it. I suppose I could have picked Mary Ann (a Scot) as she was series presenter as well as one of the singers, or Allan as he too had a wider role in the series, but I didn't.

English translationEnglish
Align paragraphs

My gallant lad

Once I was a gentle maiden,
and now I'm a weak and worn-out widow,
my spouse powerfully ploughing the waves
beyond the hills and far from here.
My gallant lad is my hero,
He's my hero, gallant lad,
I found neither sleep nor happiness
since my gallant lad went far away.
I am incessantly unhappy every day,
grieving sorely, showing signs of tears
as the lively lad was sent away from me
and, my sorrow, no news is told of him.
No cuckoo speaks sweetly in the evening
and there is no cry of beagles in the hazel forests,
nor summer mornings in misty valleys
since the lively lad was sent away from me.
A noble proud young cavalryman,
a cheerful young man with a most pleasant appearance,
a most agile grasp, swift in battle,
cutting down hordes and crushing champions.
He is like Aonghus Óg1,
like Lughaidh Mac Chéin of the big blows2,
like Conor the venerable son of renowned Nás3,
the delightful leader of music's embellishment.
Let a story be sung on tuneful harps
and let lots of quarts be filled on the table
with high spirits faultless and unclouded
to find life and good health for my lion.
since my gallant lad was reported to be far away.
  • 1. probably the mythical son of Boann and the Dagda
  • 2. Irish myth and historical tradition are full of people called Lugaid, but the only Mac Céin I know of is Tadc, not Lugaid. But all the Lugaids and Tadg Mac Céin are fierce warriors who can hit hard (Lugaid Mac Con Rí could kill 9 men with one stroke of his club, or was that his father?) so "big blows" fits any of them
  • 3. there are a lot of Conchobars in Irish historical tradition too, but if I've interpreted "cáidhmhac" correctly (which is possible, but not terribly likely) this one is real not mythical: Conchobar Ó Maol Ruanaidh aka Conchobar mac Diarmata resigned the kingship of Magh Luirg to take holy orders
thanked 37 times

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Submitted by michealtmichealt on Fri, 23/12/2016 - 16:42
Last edited by michealtmichealt on Fri, 28/12/2018 - 13:24
Author's comments:

I'm all at sea on the last two lines of the penultimate stanza - the translation I've given is my best guess but may well be wrong.
I think the rest is mostly OK, but as my Irish is far from fluent there could be mistakes.

The author of translation requested proofreading.
It means that he/she will be happy to receive corrections, suggestions etc about the translation.
If you are proficient in both languages of the language pair, you are welcome to leave your comments.
Translations of "Mo Ghile Mear"
English michealt
Iarla Ó Lionáird: Top 3
Ontano MagicoOntano Magico    Mon, 04/03/2019 - 09:54

Mo chéile ag treabhadh na dtonn go tréan: could it be: "My darling has crossed the wild waves" ?

michealtmichealt    Mon, 04/03/2019 - 21:21

"treabhadh na dtonn" is a pretty ancient idiom that is the Irish form (and "treaghadh nan tonn" works in Scottish Gaelic too) of the equally ancient English idiom "plowing the waves". "go tréan" is an adverb ("placing "go" in front of an adjective is equivalent to adding "-ly" to an adjective in English), and as an adjective tréan means strong or powerful or intense or violent, so we have strongly, powerfully, intensely or violently.

I wonder if I should have made the line after that one "over the hills and far away".

Ontano MagicoOntano Magico    Tue, 05/03/2019 - 12:31

so he adverb strongly is about him not the waves; I translate in italian: il mio sposo con forza fende l'onda

michealtmichealt    Mon, 16/03/2020 - 00:19

That (con forza) looks right to me.

I sorry that that's a very late reply, but I've been tied up in sorting out my wife's estate in two distinct legal jurisdictions (she had a will in neither) and not doing much at all with LyricsTranslate or indeed with anything else other than lawyers, with things made yet more difficult by Microsoft's inabilty to avoid installing incorrect video drivers when it updates windows 10 (because it hasn't a clue which driver works well with which hardware) and with related problems caused by my allowing an incompetent twit (who sadly had a reputation as a competent software engineer; maybe I will correct that, as he must be costing people a lot of troubles) to try to fix the incorrect video driver problem on my laptop - he spent three days trying to fix something that is usually fixed in less than half an hour, swore that he had permanently eliminated the possibility of incorrect video drivers being installed in subsequent updates, and he'd managed to lose a large chunk of data that I had specifically asked him not to touch, he destroyed nearly all applications and all users on the machine (leaving only the windows 10 default admin user, which I normally refuse to allow on my equipment), and enough of my data was missing that I'm having difficulty working out a way of restoring a usable system. The "permanent elimination" lasted until the next windows update, no longer. Naturally, I got it fixed (in about 10 minutes) by someone I knew to be reliable instead of using the incompetent twit again. If I still had my working equipment, I could do it in less than 10 minutes myself, but I retired about 14 years ago and no longer have access to lots of interesting hardware and software tools.

michealtmichealt    Mon, 04/03/2019 - 22:00

Bí = Be (2nd singular imperative); i = in ; do = your (French "ton", not "votre"); thost = silence (the word is tost, but the preceding "do" softens the first consonant from "t" to "th" (pronounced "h")). French "Tais-toi", "Ne dis rien", "Ferme-la".

However, looking at the English it's clear that they intend the plural, so the actually meant "bígí i bhur tost" - "Be (plural) silent", Taisez-vous

Bí i do thost = "Be silent" or "Shut up" or "Say nothing" (Tais-toi, not Taisez-vous)

Bí i do thost air = "Say nothing about it" or "Keep quiet about it"

Bí i do thost liom orthu = "Don't mention them to me" or "Say nothing to me about them"

Padraig O'BrienPadraig O'Brien    Sat, 30/05/2020 - 22:04

The Conchubhar here is more likely to be Conchubhar Mac Neassa. Nas, his mother, tricked Fergus Mac Roeach into relinquishing the kingship of Ulster to him. His subsequent rejection by Madhbh and his rape of her sparked a long and bloody retaliation by Madhbh and her allies. He was also a renowned musician.

Iain MacIainIain MacIain    Fri, 22/01/2021 - 16:10

Mòran taing 'son seo - glè inntinneach. 'S e tobar an dulchais anns an t-òran seo fhèin gu dearbh - cha robh fios agam.

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