Sí bheag Sí mhor
Small Faerie mound - Large Faerie mound


"Sí Bheag, Sí Mhor", the background tune, was the first song written by Turlough O'Carolan (1670 - 1738). The gist of the song is that a great contention arose between the rival queens (of Shebeg and Shemore). They first engage in verbal warfare, each claiming superiority over the other. Then ensues a battle between their partisans, fought on the plain between Shebeg and Shemore, the like of which has not been seen since Troy. Finally a truce is called, in view of the hostile approach of the faerie hosts of two neighbouring hills and the two sides unite in face of the common danger."

Imreas mór tháinig eidir na ríoghna,
Mar fhíoch a d'fhás ón dá chnoc sídhe;
Mar a dúirt an tsídh mhór go mb'fhearr i féin
Faoi dhó, faoi dho nán an tSídh Bheag.

A great contention arose between the queens,
Swelling like a fury from the two fairy hills.
For the big fairy hill said that it was superior,
Twice over, twice over, to the little fairy hill.

"Ní raibh tú ariamh chomh uasal linn,
I gcéim dár ordaíodh i dtuaith nái gcill.
Beir uainn do chaint, níl suairceas ann,
Coinnigh do chos is do lámh uainn!"

"You were never as noble as us,
in degree conferred in tribe or church;
Take your talk away from us, it makes no sense,
Remove your foot and hand from us!"

An tráth chruinnigh na sluaighte bhí an buala teann
Ar feadh na machaireacha anonn 's anall;
's níl aon ariamh dar ghluais ón mbinn
Nar chaill a chionn san ar sin.

When the hosts gathered there was a terrible battle
To and fro over the plains;
And there was none that descended from the peaks
Who did not lose his head in that slaughter.

"Párlí! párlí! a cháirde ghaoil!
Sin chugaibh ár námhaid ó Charn Chlann Aoidh,
O Bhinn Eachluinn aníos na sluaighte dhíobh,
Is bímíd uile uile páirteach!"

"Truce! truce! dear friends!
Here come our enemies from Carn Clonhugh,
Down from Binn Eachluinn in great force,
And let us all stand together!"


Background music: Si bheag si mhor by Turlough O'Carolan, sequenced by Unknown.
Source: O'Sullivan's 2001 edition of Bunting's 1796-1840 publications, published in Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society.
Thanks also to Rebecca (rjna@aol.com) who climbed the hills at Sebeag and Semore while playing Carolin's song on her instrument.

For phonetics consult the pocket dictionary Fóclóir Póca.

Replay background music: Shebeg Shemore
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