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Páistín Fionn
(Child 221)
Pat MacNamara
Kilshanny, near Ennistymon
Recorded in Kilshanny, summer 1975

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Pat McNamara

Now páistín fionn is my heart’s delight,
Her gay heart’s laughing and her blue eyes bright,
Like the apple in blossom, he bosom white,
And her lips like the swan on a March morning bright.

And now will you come with, fly with me, come with me,
Oh will you come with me, brown girl sweet,
For I would travel through snow and through sleet,
If you only come with me, sweet brown girl sweet.

And the love of my heart is my fair páistín,
No king or earl has a hold on you;
Her lips I kissed, no more I would wish,
For the glass that I drank to the health of my queen.

Chorus:
Is tusa mo rún, mo rún, mo rún,
Mar is tusa mo rún is mo ghrá geal.
Mar is tusa mo rún is mo chumann go buan,
'Sé mo chreach gan tú agam ó do mháithrín.

Were I in the town and not on the green,
Between two barrels of barley beer,
And my own fair cailín on my knee,
Sure, ‘tis I that could drink to her clear and free.

Then now will you come with, fly with me, come with me,
Oh will you come with me, brown girl sweet,
For I will travel o’er snow and sleet,
If you only come with me, sweet brown girl sweet.

Nine nights I lay in aching pain,
Between two bushes beneath the rain,
Hoping to see my poor heart again,
But sure, whistling and calling was all in vain.

Chorus:
Mar is tusa mo rún, mo rún, mo rún,
Mar is tusa mo rún is mo ghrá geal.
Mar is tusa mo rún is mo chumann go buan,
'Sé mo chreach gan tú agam ó do mháithrín
.

For a gun or a rifle, for her I would fight,
Now I’d swim that wide ocean at the dead hour of night,
And if anybody dare to make her his bride
Sure, I’d venture my life for my darling.

And oh now will you come with, fly with me, come with me,
Oh will you come with me, brown girl sweet,
For I will travel through snow and through sleet,
If you only come with me, sweet brown girl sweet.

Now I’ll leave my parents, both friends and foes,
And from all the young girls in this country I’ll go.
But for my own sweetheart never no more,
I’ll stretch in my coffin both cold and low.

Chorus:
For you are my delight, my delight, my delight,
You are my delight and my darling,
You are my delight, my comfort all night,
And I’ll roll you all night in my arms.


“'An Páistín Fionn', originally in Irish, was very popular throughout Ireland mainly because it tended to be taught in schools and in Irish summer colleges in the Gaeltachtaí; Pat’s version is pretty much a direct translation. It seems to have been popular in West Clare - Micho Russell sang it regularly. Nioclás Tóibín from An Rinn, Waterford had a particularly fine Irish version. It was printed (in Irish) in ‘Irish Popular Songs’ by Edward Walsh (1847) and in ‘Irish Ministrelsy’, James Hardiman wrote:

'Paistheen Fion, pronounced Fin, which may be a translation of either Fair Youth or (Fair) Maiden, is an ancient and popular Connaught song. The air is sweet but of a plaintive or melancholy strain such as can scarcely fail to remind the hearer that it is ‘the music of a people who have lost their freedom'. By the Paistheen Fion, I am inclined to think, was meant the son of James II, but the allegorical songs of the Irish will be alluded to in another part of this work. The ingenious translator requests me to observe, that he fears he has not succeeded in transferring all the tenderness of the original word Suirin. The disinterested affection, the adhesion of kindred, the endearing diminutiveness expressed by it, are such, as perhaps excel, what even the languages of Italy have been so celebrated for imparting. The curfá or chorus, has been frequently used by our bards. Carolan introduces it in his "George Brabazon," and it may be found in other places. The term curfá, "put under," is used metaphorically. It signifies, a call from the singer to the hearers, to join their voices in raising the song, as mariners, or workmen, unite their strength in lifting burthens. In general, the chorus has but little, and often no connection whatever, with the words. I have known the same chorus in Irish to be employed in the service of several songs.'”

Reference:
Irish Minstrelsy or Bardic Remains of Ireland, with English poetical translations, James Hardiman, London, 1831.

Jim Carroll

See also
Páistín Fionn sung by Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan

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