Lament for Sir Ulick Burke

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LAMENT FOR SIR ULICK BURKE. AKA - "Marbhna Uillioc Búrca." Irish, Lament. A Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). One Part. Composed by blind Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738) on the occasion of the death of Ulick Burke [1], 3rd Baronet of Glinsk, County Galway, in 1708. See note for "Sir Ulick Burke" for more on the subject of this composition. The following excerpt (printed by O'Sullivan, p. 229) is from the Mundey-O'Reilly manuscript, p. 160:

Turlough O'Carolan

Carolan proceeded from Mr. Maguire's of Tempo to Glinsk in the County of Mayo (recte Galway), the seat of Sir Ulick Burke; but on his way, through the severity of the weather, he was forced to stop at a place called Gleann Geivle [Glengavlen, County Cavan], near the source of the Shannon, in a miserable cabin, and where they were made welcome to the humble fare the house- owner could afford. It happened that there was a great fall of snow on that night, which retarded their journey for some days. However, with difficulty he succeeded in going to Glinsk, but unfortunately for Carolan Sir Ulick was dead and buried some days before he arrived there.

Glinsk Castle, Galway

Lady Burke gave a strict charge to all in the house not to inform Carolan of his death until she would communicate herself after some time. Carolan, however, was not forgetful of Sir Ulick while he was by storm bound at Glean Geivle, as he composed two verses of the song for Sir Ulick; and, after some days' resting and making fruitless inquiries about him, he strung his harp and began to sing his verses. His followers and domestics being assembled about him, notwithstanding the restraint which was laid upon them, when they heard his name mentioned by our bard in his song their stifled sobs and cries soon informed him of the fate of Sir Ulick. He then laid down his harp and after indulging himself in shedding tears of real sorrow for his loss he again took up his harp and song the last verse in elegiac style, far surpassing the two first verses.

Source for notated version: the music manuscripts of Irish collector Edward Bunting [O'Sullivan].

Printed sources: Complete Collection of Carolan's Irish Tunes, 1984; No. 206, p. 143. O'Sullivan (Carolan: The Life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper), 1958; No. 206, p. 221.

Recorded sources:




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