Mo Ghile Mear

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"Mo Ghile Mear" (My Gallant Darling) is an old Irish song, written in the Irish language by Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill in the 18th century.[1] Composed in the convention of Aisling poetry,[citation needed] it is a lament by the Gaelic goddess Éire for Bonnie Prince Charlie, who was then in exile.[2]

The song differs from more conventional Aisling poems. Whereas Aisling poetry normally has the poet asleep or otherwise minding his own business when he experiences a dream or vision of a fair maid, in this poem the poet personifies Éire/Ireland, the country itself, as a woman who once was a fair maiden but is now a widow. Her husband, the "Gallant Boy", is not dead but far away. As a consequence the land is failing and nature itself is in decline. This is a theme also used in "Seán Ó Duibhir an Ghleanna" and "Cill Chais".[citation needed]


The air was documented by a man named Dómhnall Ó Buachalla of Cúil Aodha, County Cork, with words from two of Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill's songs: Bímse Buan ar Buairt Gach Ló, Seal do Bhíos im’ Mhaighdin Shéimh, and another of unknown origin. Dónal Ó Liatháin gave an account[when?] of how it was formed to the sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird:[3]

"We were gathered in the Ó Riada house [...] and Peadar had this tape and he put it on and on it was a man, if my memory serves me correctly, whose name was Domhnall Ó Buachalla. ... You could recognise from the tape that his was an old voice. [Peadar] told us that this was a tape that his father had collected from the man in question and he played us a song from it, and I think that the verse that affected me most was:
Gile mear sa seal faoi chumha
Gus Éire go léir faoi chlocaí dhubha
Suan ná séan ní bhfuaireas féin
Ó luadh i gcéin mo ghile mear.
..I didn’t recognise the air at all myself, it was a very muffled recording. But Maidhci and Jeremiah did recognise it [...] Peadar gave it to me saying that we could make a song from this melody."

Ó Liatháin described the process of selection:

"I had no plan whatsoever except that I ... would take the most beautiful verses ... the verses that were ... sort of universal as you might say. There really wasn't any difficulty because it was kind of clear that this was the thing you would do... The words and lines were very nice in the verses that we chose, but ... Seán Clarach really was a superb craftsman as regards metre and so forth and you couldn't really find a bad verse where the metre would not be spot on".[3]


Sé mo laoch mo Ghile Mear
‘Sé mo Chaesar, Ghile Mear,
Suan ná séan ní bhfuaireas féin
Ó chuaigh i gcéin mo Ghile Mear.
Seal dá rabhas im’ mhaighdean shéimh,
‘S anois im’ bhaintreach chaite thréith,
Mo chéile ag treabhadh na dtonn go tréan
De bharr na gcnoc is in imigéin.
Bímse buan ar buairt gach ló,
Ag caoi go cruaidh ‘s ag tuar na ndeor
Mar scaoileadh uaim an buachaill beo
‘S ná ríomhtar tuairisc uaidh, mo bhrón.
Ní labhrann cuach go suairc ar nóin
Is níl guth gadhair i gcoilltibh cnó,
Ná maidin shamhraidh i ngleanntaibh ceoigh
Ó d’imthigh sé uaim an buachaill beó.
Marcach uasal uaibhreach óg,
Gas gan gruaim is suairce snódh,
Glac is luaimneach, luath i ngleo
Ag teascadh an tslua 's ag tuargain treon.
Seinntear stair ar chlairsigh cheoil
's líontair táinte cárt ar bord
Le hinntinn ard gan chaim, gan cheó
Chun saoghal is sláinte d' fhagháil dom leómhan.
Ghile Mear ‘sa seal faoi chumha,
‘S Éire go léir faoi chlócaibh dubha;
Suan ná séan ní bhfuaireas féin
Ó chuaigh i gcéin mo Ghile Mear.
He's my champion my Gallant Darling,
He's my Caesar, a Gallant Darling,
I've found neither rest nor fortune
Since my Gallant Darling went far away.
Once I was gentle maiden,
But now I'm a spent, worn-out widow,
My consort strongly plowing the waves,
Over the hills and far away.
Every day I'm constantly enduring grief,
Weeping bitterly and shedding tears,
Because my lively lad has left me
And no news is told of him - alas.
The cuckoo doesn't sing cheerfully after noon,
And the sound of hounds isn't heard in the nut-tree woods,
Nor a summer morning in a misty glen
Since my my lively boy went away from me.
Gallant young horseman
An appearance without worry or care
A grip thats sure and quick in battle
Leading the crowd and making us strong
Play a tune on music harps
Fill the quart measures on the table
With high intention, straight and unclouded
That life and health will be had by my lion
Gallant Darling for a while under sorrow,
And Ireland completely under black cloaks;
I have found neither rest nor fortune
Since my Gallant Darling went far away.



  1. ^ "Hail to the Chieftains". Billboard (magazine) (Nielsen Business Media, Inc): 14. 24 December 1994. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  2. ^ William David Coulter (1994). "Traditional Irish folk music, the Ó Domhnaill family, and contemporary song accompaniments". University of California. p. 79. 
  3. ^ a b "Ó Riada's Vision - Seán Ó Riada, the Cúil Aodha choir and 'Mo Ghile Mear'". The Journal of Music. Retrieved 17 June 2014.