Sir Arthur Shaen
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SIR ARTHUR SHAEN. Irish, Air or Planxty (whole time). G Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Composed by Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738). The tune was printed in John and William Neale's volume of Carolan compositions printed in Dublin around 1721 (p. 14, the exact title of the book is unknown). However, the tune was printed with numerous errors and was reconstructed by Donal O'Sullivan for this 1958 work on the bard.
O'Sullivan finds the subject to be Sir Arthur Shaen, 2nd Baronet, of Kilmore, County Roscommon, who succeeded to the title on his father's death in 1695. He was a Member of Parliament for Lismore, elected several times, and was High Sheriff of County Mayo in 1708 and of County Roscommon in 1709 and 1718. He was married twice; the second time to Susanna Magan, sister of Morgan Megan who was the subject of another Carolan composition (see "Morgan Megan"). The circumstances of the marriage were recorded by John C. Lyons in his Anecdotes, etc. from the Historical Appendix to the Grand Juries of Westmeath (1853):
The manner in which this marriage was brought about was rather curious, if the tradition which has been handed down from generation to generation can be relied on...
Sir Arthur, having occasion to visit his property in the counties of Westmeath and Mayo, undertook a journey from Dublin for that purpose...He arrived, on the last evening of the last day of the year, at the hospitable, manor house of Togherstown, about five miles west of Mullingar, the residence of Morgan Megan. We must presume the evening was passed with all the feasting and hilarity practiced at such sessions, and that Sir Arthur retired to bed well pleased "with himself and all the world besides," after having drank, and probably danced out, the old and in the new year.
Next morning the party met at the breakfast apartment, and when the hostess appeared, Sir Arthur begged for the liberty of putting his new year's gift on her, and wishing her many happy returns of the day. She ws a ready-witted lady, and immediately replied, that I have not anything worth your acceptance of a new year's gift--except ONE of my daughters." It was all the same to her which of them.
To so liberal, handsome and substantial a new year's gift what could Sir Arthur say? -- Nothing. He could not; knocked-of-a-heap!!! He could not utter a word. He made a bow, which was instantly accepted as a proposal of marriage by the wide-awake mother. There were no back-doors at Togherstown House; and if there had been, perhaps Sir Arthur might not have been inclined to make use of any of them on this occasion.
This wedding puts us in mind of a song we have all been amused at in our youth:
Oh, Sir, you're a welcome guest,
Which of my daughters do you like the best?
The one can sew, and the other can spin...
I'll marry them both, said Bryan O'Linn.
Sir Arthur, however, was satisfied with one. He married Susanna Megan; and if they did not live happy that we may. We have every reason to believe and hope they did.
For happy's the wooing
That's not long a-doing.
- Quoted in Donal O'Sullivan, Carolan: The Life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper, 1958, p. 282.