Amhrán na Leabhar

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AMHRÁN NA LEABHAR (Song of the Books). The song to this air was written by Tomás Rua Ó Súilleabháin (1785–1848), a poet and musician from Iveragh (Uibh Ráitheach) or Derrynane, County Kerry. Ó Suilleabhain had been acting schoolmaster at Caherdaniel and was forced to transfer to Portmagee when another schoolmaster was appointed to the permanent position. As he was leaving he placed his treasured and huge (for the times!) library of leather-bound books for transport on a boat going from Derrynane to Goleen (Goilin, Valentia Harbor), while he himself travelled by road. The boat struck a rock and was lost, tragically along with the priceless collection of books, prompting Ó Súlleabháin to seek solace in song. The air is known in modern times as a slow tempo piper's tune. Tomas Ó Canainn's translation begins:

By Valentia harbour I happened once
Near sweet Goleen Dairbhre
To be the master in Portmagee
Where ships set sail for the ocean deep.
Soon all had the sorrowful story then
Of the sturdy craft, lost at Owen Finn,
Sad was my heart for the ship that failed;
Better this land had it survived the gale.

The melody is very popular as a slow air with pipers, though is usually known by the titles "Valentia Lament" or "Cuan Bhéal Inse."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Cranitch (The Irish Fiddle Book), 1996; p. 102. Ó Canainn (Traditional Slow Airs of Ireland), 1995; No. 31, p. 31 (appears as "Cuan Bhéal Inse").

Recorded sources: GN1, Joe Thoma – "Up the Track: Traditional Music from Kenmare" (appears as "Valentia Lament"). Ossian OSS CD 130, Sliabh Notes – "Along Blackwater's Banks" (2002). Sceilig Records SRCD 002 Tim Dennehy – "Farewell to Miltown Malbay."

See also listing at:
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [1]




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