Annotation:Paísdín Fionn (1) (An)

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X:1 T:Paístín Fionn [1], An S:Based on Gearóid's setting obtained from Micho Russell L:1/8 Z:Jerome Colburn M:3/4 K:D FG | A4 d2 | d6|-d4 de | f3 e d2 | e6|-e4fe | d4 c2 | A2 G2 F2 | G2 A2 E2|-E4 FG | A4 d2 | d6|-d4 de | f3 e d2 | e6|-e4 fe | d3 c A2 | G2 E3 A | D6 | D4 || DE | F3 G A2 | d6 | A4 A2 | B4 A2 | G4 FG | A3 G E2 | F4 DE | F3 G A2 | c4 (3ABc | d6 | d4 DE | F3 G A2 | =c6 | A4 G2 | A d3 e2 | f2 ge | d3 c A2 | GE-E2 EA | D6 | D4 |]**

PAÍSDÍN/PÁISTÍN FIONN [1], AN (‘The Fair-Haired Child’ or ‘The fair young maid’). AKA and see "Little Fair Child (1)," “Maid of the Golden Tresses (The).” Irish, Slow Air (6/8 or 3/4 time). D Dorian (Roche): D Major (Russell): D Major/Mixolydian (Ó Canainn, Shields/Goodman). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Ó Canainn, Russell): AB (Roche, Shields/Goodman). Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin[1] records that the song "An Páistín Fionn" is usually associated with the Munster and Connacht song tradition, although Luke Donnellan wrote that a version was current in County Louth at the turn of the 20th century. It is not a children's lullaby, writes Ní Uallacháin, who points out the title word páistín, which means 'little child', is also an affectionate term for a maiden. "The song bears none of the features of the categories of traditional lullabies in Ireland"[2].

The tune can be found in Cooke’s Selection of Twenty-one Favourite Original Irish Airs arranged for Pianoforte, Violin or Flute (Dublin, 1793) and P.W. Joyce’s Irish Folk Music and Songs (1909). Doolin, north County Clare, tin whistle player Micho Russell had a major version of the melody (which his father and mother both sang), though remarkably similar to the dorian setting in Roche. Russell (1989) said vaguely the tune had “something to do” with a rogue who abducted a woman, only to find the girl he had carried off was not the one he had intended. In fact, the lyrics can be found in Father Walsh’s Songs of the Irish Gael, and seem to be an fervent ode to a young woman (or perhaps a very young woman, for the singer laments that its his “woe that I don’t have you from your mother”) rather than a ‘child’. Danú, whose version comes from the Waterford Gaeltacht (the Gaelic-speaking area), descibes the song as ‘a light-hearted love song’ in which the protagonist describes the beauty of his secret beloved and the obstacles he would overcome to win her. The title appears in a list of tunes in his repertoire brought by Philip Goodman, the last professional and traditional piper in Farney, Louth, to the Feis Ceoil in Belfast in 1898 (Breathnach, 1997).

The Irish song begins:

Grá lem’ anam mo pháistín fionn
A bhfuil a croi sa a haigne ag gáire liom;
A cíocha geala mar bhláth na gcrann
Is a píob mar eala lá Márta.

Is tusa mo rún, mo rún, mo rún,
Is tusa mo rún is mo ghrá geal;
Is tusa mo rún is mo chumann go buan,
‘Sé mo chreach gan tú agam ó do mháithrín.

See also “Pausteen Fawn” and Francis O’Neill’s version, printed under the title “Maid of the Golden Tresses (The).” The melody is also used for the song ”Lone Shanakyle,” which concertinist Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh plays as a slow air on his recording “The Nervous Man.”

Additional notes
Source for notated version : - the 1861 manscript collection of James Goodman, a Church of Ireland cleric who collected in County Cork [Shields].

Printed sources : - Ó Canainn (Traditional Slow Airs), 1995; No. 79, p. 70. Roche (Collection of Traditional Irish Music, vol. 1), 1912; No. 21, p. 13 (1st setting). Russell (The Piper’s Chair), 1989. Hugh Shields (Tunes of the Munster Pipers vol. 1), 1998; No. 22, p. 12.

Recorded sources : - Shanachie 78030, Danú – "Think Before You Think" (2000). Chieftains 2. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin's – "Traditional Music from Clare and Beyond" (based on the playing of Micho Russell).

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  1. Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, A Hidden Ulster: People, songs and traditions of Oriel, Dublin, 2003, pp. 248-249.
  2. ibid, p. 249.