Mo Ghile Mear

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MO GILE MEAR (My Nimble Lad/My Spirited Lad). AKA - "Mo Ghile Mear," "Ó, Mo Laoch, Mo Ghile Mear," "Seal do Bhíos im' Mhaighdin Shéimh," "De bharr na gCnoc 's i nImigéin," "Air Bharr na G-Cnoc 's an Ime G-Céin." AKA and see "My Gallant Darling," "Will Ye No' Come Back Again?" Irish, Slow March or Air (4/4 time). Ireland, West Kerry. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Ó Canainn): AB (Mac Amhlaoibh & Durham, Tubridy, Vallely). A Jacobite song originally composed by Seán Clárach Mac Dónaill (1691-1754), in which Eire laments her love, Bonnie Prince Charlie Stuart, then in exile. It has been called "one of the most powerful lamentations of the 17th century," and while it is usually rendered by a male voice in a martial fashion, it is in fact a woman's lament for her love, a war hero, who was killed in battle. The verses have been reworked in the folk process and there is a modern chorus to the song. As "Air Bharr na G-Cnoc 's an Ime G-Céin" it appears in Edward Walsh's Irish Popular Songs (Dublin, 1847).

Seal da rabhas im' mhaighdean shéimh,
'S anois im' bhaintreach chaite thréith,
Mo chéile ag treabhadh na dtonn go tréan
De bharr na gcnoc is i n-imigcéin.

'Sé mo laoch, mo Ghile Mear, 'Sé mo Chaesar, Ghile Mear,
Suan ná séan ní bhfuaireas féin
Ó chuaigh i gcéin mo Ghile Mear.

For a while I was a gentle maiden
And now a spent worn-out widow
My spouse ploughing the waves strongly
Over the hills and far away.

Chorus: He is my hero, my dashing darling
He is my Caesar, dashing darling.
I've had no rest from forebodings
Since he went far away my darling.

The tune was played at the funeral of Seán Ó Riada, when he was buried in the little church in Cúil Aodha on October 3rd, 1971. Ó Riada is credited with helping to revitalize Irish traditional music in the mid-20th century and was founder of Ceoltóirí Cualann, the group out of which developed the Chieftains. Some hear similarities between this tune and the reel "Silver Spear."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Mac Amhlaoibh & Durham (An Pota Stóir: Ceol Seite Corca Duibne/The Set Dance Music of West Kerry), No. 87, p. 50. Ó Canainn (Traditional Slow Airs), 1995; No. 98, p. 84 (Appears as "Gile Mear"). Tubridy (Irish Traditional Music, Book Two), 1999; p. 4. Vallely (Learn to Play the Fiddle with Armagh Pipers Club), 197?; p. 19.

Recorded sources: RCA 62702, Chieftains (& Sting) - "Long Black Veil" (1995). Green Linnet, "Relativity." Mary Black - "Collected" (1984).

See also listing at:
Alan Ng's [1]
Hear Mary Black sing the song on [2]

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