Spailpín Fánach (1) (The)

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X:1 T:Spalpeen Fanach [1], The T:Spailpín Fánach [1], An L:1/8 M:C R:Set Dance S:O’Neill – 1001 Gems (972) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G gf|efed B2A2|GABG E2 EF|G2 GF GABc|dedc B2 gf| efed B2A2|GABG E2G2|FGAF DEFA|G3 G2:| |:GA|Bdef g2 fg|agfe d2 Bd|edef gfed|e2f2g2 fg| efed BcBA|GABG EDEG|FGAF DEFA|G3G2:|



SPAILPÍN FÁNAC(H) [1], AN. AKA and see "As Slow Our Ship," "Brighton Camp," "Girl I Left Behind Me (1) (The)," "Rambling Laborer (THe)," “Wandering Labourer (The).” Irish, Slow Air (4/4 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin discusses the ordeal of the spailpín, or wandering laborer, in his book A Pocket History of Irish Traditional Music (1998). The spailpín was a landless individual—holding nothing save the cabin he occupied—and by necessity hired himself out to whomever would employ him. He survived on a system of conacre in which he had to meet the uncertain prospect of growing enough crops to pay his rent with enough left to feed his family; when times were hard, as they often were, the spailpín took himself to a hiring fair in hopes of temporary migrant employment to stave off eviction and starvation. According to the Devon Commission of 1843, he belonged to the most ‘wretched of the many wretched classes in Ireland.’ The first verse of the 18th century song describes the contempt the men of the western part of the island faced when they had to apply to the landholding farmers of the richer lands of Munster and Leinster for work. Ó hAllmhuráin points out it was the spailpín and his family who were the chief victims of the Great Famine in the mid-19th century.

AN SPAILPÍN FÁNACH

Go deo do arís ní raghad go Caiseal
ag díol ná ag reic mo shláinte,
Ar mhargadh na saoire im shuí cois balla
nó im scaoinse ar leataoibh sráide;
Bodairí na tíre ag tíocht ar a gcapaill
á fhiafraí an bhfuilim híreáilte;
‘Téanam chun siúil, tá an cúrsa fada!’
—seo ar siúl an spailpín fánach.

Im spailpín fánach a fágadh mise
ag seasamh ar mo shláinte,
Ag siúl an drúchta go moch ar maidin
ag bailiú galair ráithe;
Ní fheicfear corrán im láimh chun bainte,
súist ná feac beag rámhainne,
Ach colours na bhFrancach os cionn mo leapa
is pike agam chun sáite.

Go Callainn nuair théim ’s mo hook im ghlac is
mé ansúd i dtosach gearrtha,
Is nuair théim go Dúilinn ’s é clú bhíonn acu
‘Seo chúibh an spailpín fánach!’;
Cruinneoidh mé ciall ’s triallfad abhaile
is cloífead seal lem mháithrín,
’s go bráth arís ní ghlaofar m’ain
sa tír seo ‘an spailpín fánach’.

Mo chúig chéad slán chun dúthaigh m’athar
’gus chun an Oileáin ghrámhair,
’s chun buachaillí na Cúlach ós dóibh nár mheasa
in aimsir chasta an gharda ann;
Ach anois ó táimse im thráill bhocht dhealamh
i measc na ndúthaí fáin seo,
Is é mo chumha croí mar fuair mé an ghairm
bheith riamh im spailpín fánach.

I gCiarraí an ghrinn do gheofaí an ainnir
go mb’fhonn le fear suí láimh léi,
’na mbeadh lasadh trí lítis ’na gnaoi mar eala,
is a cúl fionn fada fáinneach;
A cruinne-chíocha riamh nár scaipeadh,
’s a mala chaol mar shnáthaid,
’s mór go mb'fhearr í ná sraoill ó Challainn
’na mbeadh na céadta púnt le fáil léi.

’S ró-bhreá is cuimhin liom mo dhaoin’ bheith sealad
thiar ag Droichead Gáile,
Faoi bhuaibh, faoi chaoirigh, faoi laoigh beag’ geala
agus capaill ann le háireamh;
Ach b’é toil Chríost gur cuireadh sin astu
’s go ndeaghamar i leith ár sláinte,
Is gurbh é bhris mo chroí i ngach tír dá rachaim—
‘Call here you, spailpín fánach!’

Dá dtigeadh an Francach anall thar caladh
is a champa daingean láidir,
’gus Bóic Ó Gráda chúinn abhaile
is Tadhg bocht fial Ó Dálaigh,
Do bheadh barracks an rí go léir á leagadh
agus yeomen ’gainn á gcarnadh,
Clanna Gall gach am á dtreascairt—
sin cabhair ag an spailpín fánach!

The above is taken from Nua-Dhuanaire, Cuid III. A Connaught version is also cited, and the following verse quoted:

Tá na Franncaigh anois istigh i gCill Eala
agus béidhmuid go leathan láidir;
Tá Bonaparte i gCaisleán an Bharraigh
ag iarraidh an dlighe a cheap Sáirséal;
Béidh beairicí an ríogh is gach éan-oidhche thrí lasadh
agus yeomen againn á gcarnadh;
Puiceanna an Bhéarla go síorruidh d’á leagan—
sin cabhair ag an Spailpín Fánach.

THE ROVER (George Sigerson)

No more, no more in Cashel town
I’ll sell my health a-raking,
Nor on days of fairs rove up and down
Nor join the merry making.
There, mounted farmers come in throngs
To seek and hire me over,
But now I’m hired, and my journey’s long,
The journey of the Rover.

I’ve found, what rovers often do,
I trod my health down fairly;
And that wand’ring out on morning dew
Will gather fevers early.
No more shall flail swing o’er my head,
Nor my hand a spade-shaft cover,
But the banner of France will float instead,
And the Pike stand by the Rover!

When to Callan once, with hook in hand,
I’d go for early shearing,
Or to Dublin town—the news was grand
That the "Rover gay" was nearing.
And soon with good gold home I’d go,
And my mother’s field dig over,
But no more—no more this land shall know
My name as the "Merry Rover!"

Five hundred farewells to Fatherland!
To my loved and lovely Island!
And to Culach boys—they’d better stand
Her guards by glen and highland.
But now that I am poor and lone,
A wand’rer—not in clover—
My heart it sinks with bitter moan
To have ever lived a Rover.

In pleasant Kerry lives a girl,
A girl whom I love dearly;
Her cheek’s a rose, her brow’s a pearl,
And her blue eyes shine so clearly!
Her long fair locks fall curling down
O’er a breast untouched by lover—
More dear than dames with a hundred poun’
Is she unto the Rover!

Ah, well I mind, my own men drove
My cattle in no small way;
With cows, with sheep, with calves, they’d move
With steeds, too, west to Galway.
Heaven willed I’d lose each horse and cow,
And my health but half recover—
It breaks my heart, for her sake, now
That I’m only a sorry Rover.

But when once the French come o’er the main,
With stout camps in each valley,
With Buck O’Grady back again,
And poor brave Tadhg Ó Dálaigh—
Oh, The Royal Barracks in dust shall lie,
The yeomen we’ll chase over;
And the English clan be forced to fly—
’Tis the sole hope of the Rover!


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Ó Canainn (Traditional Slow Airs of Ireland), 1995; No. 94, p. 81. O’Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 972, p. 167.

Recorded sources : - Kells Music KM 9507,Dervish – “At the End of the Day” (1996). Shanachie 79067, Boys of the Lough - "Farewell and Remember Me" (1987).

See also listing at :
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [1]



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