Ar Leacain na Gréine [On the Sunny Side of the Hill]

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Ar Leacain na Gréine [On the Sunny Side of the Hill]  Máire Bhuí Ní Laeire
(English Translation)




On the sunny side of the hill yesterday as I herded my cattle,

I saw beside me the young gentle fair lady;

her appearance had the radiance of berries and her cheek was like the rose,

and her curly pearly tresses flowed to the ties of her shoes.



I did not hesitate in going to her with her welcome and kiss,

but for fear that it was not a worldly woman that had come my way,

I was not acquainted with her, despite her fame in the province,

but her person and mind, her beauty, her reputation and her form.



I sat down beside her and started to talk softly to her,

and it was not long before I decided to share her company for a while:

‘If you are tired from the journey, tally a while and come with me

and you will receive a bed not of hay for a month if you so wish’.



‘You are fooling yourself, my treasure’, said she, ‘and I am not for you,

and I don’t know where your household lies or where your abode is;

because I have to go down to the South of Ireland with my story

that I saw the Fleet in Whiddy in full strong might’.



‘Oh fine gentle strong one, do not talk to me about that Fleet until I die,

because it is with distress that I see thousands in want for lack of it;

they were scattered by the wind, alas, it sent many of them astray,

and in fetters they now lie like this regal woman who travelled from afar’.



‘Everyone you see, explain to them the meaning of my tidings,

that they are coming in masses with grain and powder –

young strong soldiers, commanded by Louis and the Spaniard,

coming to Ireland without delay with the grace of the Son of God’.



‘Indeed if your lays are true, oh stately fair lady,

we will have land without rent without payment without tax and without dispute,

there will be wheat and butter and bacon on our own table,

and the joyous company drinking quarts and calling for more’.


~ Excerpt from pp. 134-36 of Singing Ideas: Performance, Politics and Oral Poetry (Berghahn 2018) by Tríona Ní Shíocháin.