Na Daichead Dath Glasa - The Forty Shades of Green

Johnny Cash in concert 1961.
Johnny Cash - 40 shades of green

Johnny Cash was so impressed by the Emerald Isle in 1961 that he penned a whole album in celebration of Ireland. The most enduring of Cash's Irish songs is "Forty Shades of Green", including the confession that "most of all I miss a girl in Tipperary town, and most of all I miss her lips as soft as eiderdown". Mention of Dingle, Donaghadee, the Shannon, Skibbereen, Cork and Larne, make this a very all-Irish song, and a celebration of the good old times when "the farmers drain the bogs and spade the turf".

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Liricí as Gaeilge le Diarmaid ó Tuama
1. Ar thaisteal dom im’ chuimní
chuig oileáinín mo chroí
ó naomhóga an Daingin
go tránna Donaghdee,

Is fada uaim an tSionainn
agus muintir Sciobairín,
Na móintigh is na móinéir
go haoibhinn is go caoin.

Lyrics and music by Johnny Cash
1. I close my eyes and picture
The emerald of the sea
From the fishing boats at Dingle
To the shores of Donaghadea

I miss the River Shannon,
The folks at Skibbereen
The moorlands and the meadows
And the forty shades of green

2. Is fada uaim mo chailín breá
I dTiobraid árann Theas,
Is faide fós a bhraithim uaim
a béilín tana tais;

Ba bhreá liom seal a chaitheamh ann
go bhfeicfinn mar a bhí
Na móintigh is na móinéir
go haoibhinn is go caoin.

2. But most of all I miss a girl
in Tipperary town
And most of all I miss her lips
As soft as eiderdown [1]

I long again to see and do
The things we've done and seen
Where the breeze is sweet as Shalamar [2]
And there's forty shades of green.

3. Ba bhreá liom seal a chaitheamh ann
cois trá i mBail’ áth’ Clí
’S go bhfeicfinn baint na móna
is an choirce aibí bhuí,

Go bhfeicfinn mná ag diasrú dos
na tithe beag’ ceann tuí –
Do shiúlfainn cúigíbh éireann
go haoibhinn is go caoin.

3. I wish that I could spend an hour
at Dublin´s churning surf.
I long to watch the farmers drain
the bogs and spade the turf

to see again the thatching
of the straw the women clean.
I´d walk from Cork to Larne [3] to see
those Forty Shades of Green.

4. Is fada uaim mo chailín breá
I dTiobraid árann Theas,
Is faide fós a bhraithim uaim
a béilín tana tais;

Ba bhreá liom seal a chaitheamh ann
go bhfeicfinn mar a bhí
Na móintigh is na móinéir
go haoibhinn is go caoin.

4. But most of all I miss a girl
Girl in Tipperary town. in Tipperary town
And most of all I miss her lips
As soft as eiderdown.

I long again to see and do
The things we've done and seen
Where the breeze is sweet as Shalamar
And there's forty shades of green.

Never mind that a lot of these farmers might have told Cash to be on his way, preferring some modern comforts themselves. And so, Flag of the Irish Republic Johnny Cash was responsible for creating the idea of Ireland being " forty shades of green". There is also an Irish language version above by Diarmaid ó Tuama who while taking a few liberties is quite close to the original both in the language, spirit, and in the rhyme. Cash's original was added on by Ireland's seminal rock group "Boomtown Rats", with singer Bob Geldof also mentioning "sixty shades of red" in reference to the "Troubles".

[1] Eiderdown comes from a large migratory Eider Duck, is exceptionally soft and has insulating properties superior to any other down. [Pronounced: eye der down}
[2] Shalamar is a very pleasant perfume.
[3] Larne is a large town in Co. Antrim.

Irish thatched roof cottage Pictures in text:
1. Fishing boat at Dingle, Co. Kerry
2. Carrick-on-Shannon, Co.Roscommon
3. Farmer in Co. Donegal spading the turf
4. Girl in Co. Tipperary whose lips were soft as Eiderdown.
5. Flag of Ireland.
6. Irish thatched roof cottage.

03.20 Courtesy of Vivian and Jack Hennessey, IrishPage.com April, 2014
Vocal by Johnny Cash courtesy of Seamus Quinn
Replay song: Forty Shades of Green.
Replay midi music: Forty Shades of Green.
Johnny Cash died September 12, 2003
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