Oran do Ghille a Chaidh a Bhàthadh (On the Drowning of a Young Man)

[read english version]

A standard at most Cape Breton milling frolics,
this “drowning song’s” powerful cadence and stark
imagery make it one of the best songs of its type that I
know. My text here is based on the singing of Roddy Alec
Ruairi (Roddy MacInnes) of West Bay Road, Inverness
County. I want to thank everyone who came over to the
house to help record this song, a glimpse of a Cape
Breton milling frolic.

Air fàil irìnn ì rirìnn oich a rìnn ù
Air fàil irìnn ì rirìnn é ho rò é ho
Air fàil irìnn ì rirìnn oich a rìnn ù.

‘S ann aig Port an Taigh-àiridh
Thog a shiùil ris a’ bhàta
Cha b’i ‘n stiùir a rinn d’fhàgail
Ach gun do dh’fhàillinich na bùird

‘S ann shios aig Sgeir Chailleach
Tha mo ghaolsa ‘na laighidh
Fo fhaoileig na maradh
‘S fo ghleannan nan stuadh

‘S mór am beud do chùl clannach
Bhi ‘ga reubadh ‘s an fheamainn
Gun chiste, gun anart
Ach gainneamh a’ ghruinnd

‘S nan rachadh do bhàthadh
Nuair a chaidh mo thriùir bhràithrean
Gheibhinn leth-sgeul a ghràidh-ghil
Gu bràth a bhi ‘gad chaoidh

Cha truagh leam do phiuthar
Ged a tha i fo mhulad
Théid is’ ann an cuideachd
‘S théid a mulad air chùl

Ach ‘s truagh leam do mhàthair
‘Si shaothraich air d’àrach
‘S cha d’fhuair i dhe d’fhàbhar
A bhi ‘gad chàradh ‘s an ùir

Fhir nan camagan donna
Uchd ghil ‘s a’ bhroillich shoilleir
‘S mis’ a rachadh ‘ad choinnimh
‘S cha bu choma leam thu

‘S mi dìreadh ‘s a’ teàrnadh
Nam bruaichean àrda
Chì mi ‘tighinn am bàta
Gun mo ghràdh air a stiùir

‘S mi ‘dìreadh a’ bhealaich
‘S trom mo cheum ‘s mi air m’aineol
Ma bha sùgradh air m’aire
Chaidh e tamull air chùl

‘S ann air feasgar Di màirt
Dh’fhalbh an sgiob’a bha àlainn
Chaidh iad a dh’iarraidh a’ bhàta
Rinn d’fhàgail ‘s a’ ghrunnd

Nuair a thruiseas na gillean
A sheinneas an fhìdheall
Ciamar a thogas mo chridhe
‘S gun thu ‘tighinn, a rùin

Friends who helped on chorus (in no particular
order): Malcolm (Maxie) MacNeil, Neil J. Gillis, Helen
and Rod C. MacNeil, JJoan and John Gillis, Janet
Buchanan, Bonnie Thompson, Sadie MacInnes, Linda
MacLellan, Vicki and Meagan Quinby, Marianne Jewell,
Rebecca-Lynne and Geoffrey May, Frances MacEachern, Jim
Watson, Jamie MacNeil and a special thanks to Jeff
MacDonald for buiiiilding the milling table.

Recorded by Paul MacDonald in
Glendale, Cape Breton.


Oran do Ghille a Chaidh a Bhàthadh
(On the Drowning of a Young Man)

A standard at most Cape Breton milling frolics,
this “drowning song’s” powerful cadence and stark
imagery make it one of the best songs of its type that I
know. My text here is based on the singing of Roddy Alec
Ruairi (Roddy MacInnes) of West Bay Road, Inverness
County. I want to thank everyone who came over to the
house to help record this song, a glimpse of a Cape
Breton milling frolic.

Air fàil irìnn ì rirìnn oich a rìnn ù
Air fàil irìnn ì rirìnn é ho rò é ho
Air fàil irìnn ì rirìnn oich a rìnn ù. (vocables)

The ship set sail from Port
Taigh-àiridh. You weren’t abandoned by the rudder but
the planking failed

My love lies at the bottom of
Sgeir-chailleach under the seagull and the waves’
tempest.

Its a pity that your curled tresses
are rent by the seaweed with no coffin or shroud but the
sand of the sea-floor.

If you had drowned at the same time as
my three brothers, I would have an excuse, fair young
love, to lament you for ever.

I don’t pity your sister, though she
is glum. She will again enjoy company and put her sorrow
behind her.

I pity your mother who laboured at
your rearing. She received nothing of your favour, to
place you under the ground.

Man of the curled locks, white throat
and bright chest, I would go eagerly to meet you.

My footstep is heavy as I climb the
unfamiliar mountain pass. If I had any thought of
lovemaking, it was set aside.

I climb and descend the high hills. I
see the boat coming without my love at it’s helm.

Tuesday afternoon the handsome seamen
departed to search for the boat that left you on the
bottom of the sea.

When the lads gather and the fiddle is
played, how can I be cheered without your arrival.

Friends who helped on chorus (in no particular
order): Malcolm (Maxie) MacNeil, Neil J. Gillis, Helen
and Rod C. MacNeil, JJoan and John Gillis, Janet
Buchanan, Bonnie Thompson, Sadie MacInnes, Linda
MacLellan, Vicki and Meagan Quinby, Marianne Jewell,
Rebecca-Lynne and Geoffrey May, Frances MacEachern, Jim
Watson, Jamie MacNeil and a special thanks to Jeff
MacDonald for buiiiilding the milling table.

Recorded by Paul MacDonald in
Glendale, Cape Breton.