Margaret Roche (1)

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MARGARET ROCHE [1] (Mairghread na Róiste). AKA and see "Little Black Rose (2)," "Róisín dubh (1)." Irish, Air (3/4 time). A Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. "Bunting gives wto settings of this air, which he calls 'Roisin dubh' (The Little Black Rose). But is is universally known all over Munster as 'Mairghread na Róiste': and I believe that Bunting has given it a wrong name. The air called Róisín dubh, which is known, not only in Munster, but all over Ireland, is entirely different. It well be found in Petrie's Ancient Music of Ireland, in a major setting; and in my 'Irish Music and Song', in its proper minor setting. The setting I give here of Mairghread na Róiste differs a good deal from both of Bunting's settings of the air he (wrongly) calls Róisín Dubh. It is more purely vocal. It has remained in my memory since boyhood, with the first verse of the Irish song, which tells a sad story. Margaret Roche was condemned to be burned alive for murder. On her condemnation her brother set out post haste for Dublin and was successful in obtaining a reprieve, but arrived home just an hour too late. He then composed a lament of which I give the first verse.

O Margaret, Margaret, Margaret Toche
Of the white hands, of the golden ringlets:
There were one and twenty people at your wedding;
And no one living belonging to you at your burning.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Joyce (Old Irish Folk Music and Songs), 1909; No. 57, p. 31.

Recorded sources:




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