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An Seanduine Dóite
Micho Rusell
Doonagore, Doolin

Carroll Mackenzie Collection


Micho Russell

Ó chuir mé mo sheanduine isteach ins an choirnéal,
Ag ól bainne ramhar is ag ithe aráin eornan.
Dá gcuirfeadh sé a cheann amach bhainfinn an tsrón de,
Agus d’fhágfainn an chuid eile ag cailín’ deas óga.

Óró ‘sheanduine, ‘sheanduine dóite,
Óró ‘sheanduine is mairg a phós thú,
Óró ‘sheanduine, ‘sheanduine dóite,
Luigh ar do leaba agus codlaigh do dhóthain.

Chuir mise mo sheanduine go shráid Bhaile an Róba,
Cleite ina hata agus búclaí ina bhróga.
Bhí triúr á mhealladh is bhi ceathrar á phógadh,
Chuala mé i nGaillimh gur imigh se leotha.

Dá b’fhaighinnse mo sheanduine báite i bpoll mona,
A lámh a bheith briste nó a chos a bheith leonta,
Do thabharfainn abhaile é is do dhéanfainn é a thórramh,
Agus shiúlfainn amach leis na buachaillí óga.

Dá mbeadh ‘fhios ag mo sheanduine ó mar a bímse,
Ag ól is ag imirt le hógfhir na tíre,
Le héirí na gealaí go mbrisfeadh sé a phíopa,
Agus bhuailfeadh sé faic dena mhuig ins an ghríosaigh.


"The theme of this song — of a young woman forced or tricked into marrying an old man — is a popular one in both English and Irish language songs in these islands and elsewhere. Donal O’Sullivan in his ‘Songs of the Irish' writes and gives the following translation of a version taken down from Peg O’Donague, of Ballymakeery, Co. Cork by Martin Freeman in 1914:

'This song, part tragic, part grimly amusing, with a surprise in its last line, has sometimes been attributed to Andrew Magrath, the County Limerick poet who is the author of "Farewell to the Maigue" in the present volume (p. 93). It is reasonably certain, however, that the attribution is erroneous. It is an eighteenth century folk song of Munster origin, which has doubtless been subjected to many alterations and accretions, and versions of which have been noted as far away as County Mayo. At the period of its composition Scottish airs were very popular in Ireland, particularly with the Munster poets, and this song is said to have been written to the tune of "The Campbells are Coming". It is interesting to note the profound modifications which the tune has undergone at the hands of the Irish folk singers.'

There were three of them at me to wed the old gaffer,
My daddy, my mam—and the priest followed after;
Then they went home, a great feast they were spreading,
But my friends never see me now—after the wedding.

And O my old dotard, with you I'll not tarry,
And O my old dotard, O why did I marry!
Your body is shrivelled, your eye it is glassy,
'Tis a plague when a withered man cleaves to a lassie !

The advice that I got while out walking the roadway
From a rogue of a priest was to marry a dotard.
Twas little he cared if well paid for his labours
For the rest of my days I might look to the neighbours.

Deaved with their pleading I wed the old fellow,
Legs like two broomsticks, skin faded and yellow.
He took me off home—by my story take warning—
And I wished I was dead when I rose the next morning.

Were he drowned in a bog-hole I’d readily take him
And carry him home, and right gladly I'd wake him.
I'd lock up the place to prevent any pillage,
And go for a stroll with the lads of the village.

If I had a horse and a saddle and bridle,
With reins and a bit, 'tisn't long I'd be idle.
I'd drive to the mountain and leave him there rotting,
And back with my lusty young sweetheart come trotting.

I went off to Cork to get whiskey to wake him,
Tobacco and snuff, and a coffin to make him.
I then started homeward and—as I'm a sinner—
There was my old man a-cooking his dinner!

This is an uncredited account of the life of the poet Macgrath with reference to this song; the information is largely taken from an essay on Munster poets by James Clarence Mangan in his ‘Songs of the Munster Bards’:

Andrew MacGrath
Andrew Magrath, 'An Mangaire Sugach' or 'The Jolly Pedlar' was born in County Limerick 'beside the Maigue', a river which appears frequently in his poetry. He was the greatest of all the Maigue poets, but he was also the greatest rake among them. Many of his songs were too coarse or bawdy for publication. Mangan says of him:—'Gay, eccentric, jovial, witty, learned and intellectual.' Douglas Hyde describes him as 'The frailest and wildest of all the bards'. Magrath, as his nickname implies, was a wanderer, and so little is known of his life. The little we do know comes from the short references to his life which appear in his poems. He was friendly with O'Tuomy and the rest of the Munster bards and was often engaged in poetic battles with them. Once on hearing of an unhappy girl who had been forced by the parish priest to marry an old man, he composed the quatrain: —

A priest bade me marry for better or worse
An old wretch who had nothing but his money and years—
Ah, 'twas little he cared but to fill his own purse;
And I now look for help to the neighbours with tears.

This onslaught was too much for the old men of the district and the priest, and Magrath was forced to fly to the neighbouring mountain. Knockfierna, where he resumed his former occupation of school-teaching. His best known poem is his 'Cailín deas crúidhte na mbó' or the 'Pretty girl milking the cows', and on the strength of this alone, Mangan calls him the most melodious Gaelic poet of his day. In spite of his wild living, Magrath lived to a very advanced age. He died about the year 1790 and is buried in Kilmallock Graveyard."

Reference: Songs of the Irish, Donal O’Sullivan. Brown and Nolan, Dublin, 1960
Jim Carroll


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