Mná na hÉireann

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MNÁ NA hÉIREANN (The Women of Ireland). Irish, Air (cut time). Ireland, West Kerry. E Dorian/D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. The melody was composed by Sean Ó Riada [1] (1931-1971) to a poem by Peadar Ó Doirnín (1704?-1769). Ó Riada was instrumental in helping to revive Irish traditional music in the 1950's and 1960's. It was out of his group Ceoltóirí Cualann that the band The Chieftains was formed, but by the age of 40 Ó Riada had succombed to alcoholism. The Chieftains version of "Mná na hÉirreann" was used as part of the soundtrack for the film Barry Lyndon by director Stanley Kubrick.

Seán Ó Riada

Ta bean in Éireann a phronnfadh sead damh is mo shaith le n-ol
Is ta bean in Éireann is ba bhinne leithe mo rafla ceoil
No seinm thead; ata bean in Éirinn is niorbh fhearr lei beo
Mise ag leimnigh no leagtha i gcre is mo tharr faoi fhod

Ta bean in Éireann a bheadh ag ead liom mur bhfaighfinn ach pog
O bhean ar aonach, nach ait an sceala, is mo dhaimh fein leo;
Ta bean ab fhearr liom no cath is cead dhiobh nach bhfagham go deo
Is ta cailin speiriuil ag fear gan Bhearla, dubhghranna croin.

Ta bean a dearfadh da siulann leithe go bhfaighinn an t-or,
Is ta bean 'na leine is is fearr a mein no na tainte bo
Le bean a bhuairfeadh Baile an Mhaoir is clar Thir Eoghain,
Is ni fhaicim leigheas ar mo ghalar fein ach scaird a dh'ol.

The English translation goes (from Caroline Foty):

There's a woman in Ireland who'd give me shelter and my fill of ale;
And there's a woman in Ireland who'd prefer the strains of my music
To the playing of strings; there's a woman in Ireland and nothing would please her more
Than me burning or lying in the clay beneath the sod.

There's a woman in Ireland who would be envious if I were to get only a kiss
From a woman at a fair, isn't it strange, and I love them all;
There's a woman whom I prefer to battle and a hundred of them I will never get
And there's a beautiful girl who belongs to a man without English, so ugly.

There's a woman who would say that if I would wander with her I would find gold;
And there's a woman in a shift whose beauty is worth more than the cattle raids
With a woman who vexed Ballymoyer and the plain of Tyrone {a reference to Maeve and the cattle raid of Cooley, a Cuchulainn tale}
And I see no cure for my illness but drink.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Mac Amhlaoibh & Durham (An Pota Stoir: Ceol Seite Corca Duibne/The Set Dance Music of West Kerry), No. 91, p. 52.

Recorded sources: Claddagh CC14, "Chieftains 4" (1974). Shanachie 79024, "Chieftains 4" (1974/1983). Hearts Space, "Celtic Twilight."

See also listing at:
Alan Ng's [2]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [3]

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