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An óg-Laoch - The Minstrel Boy

Minstrel and family
An Irish Minstrel Boy

An emotionally stirring and inspirational song, the "Minstrel Boy" was written by Thomas Moore (1779-1852) who set it to the melody of "The Moreen", an old Irish aire. It is believed by many that Moore composed the song as a memorial to several of his friends he had met while a student at Trinity College and who had participated in the 1798 rebellion of the United Irishmen. One died in prison, another was wounded, and a third captured and hung. The song originally consisted of two verses. Due to its popularity, a third verse was added by unknown authors at the time of the US Civil War. The lyrics below are divided into six verses as an aid to readability.

Gan údar
Do thriall chun catha óg-laoch na rann,
Lár námhad Éireann ársaighe;
Lann athar fáisgthe air go teann,
A n-aoinfheacht lé n-a chláirsigh

"A Thír na n-Dán !" arsan an laoch-cheóil grinn,
"Dá m-beidheadh an saoghal dod' dhaoradh,
Tá aon chruit amháin lé do mholadh go binn,
'S aon lann amháin lé do shaoradh !"

Do thuit an bárd ach má thuit go fóill,
Bhidh a chroidhe neamh-eaglach, tréanmhar,
Is raob sé téada cláirsighe an cheóil,
Do scuab sé an trá bhidh séanmhar;

Is dubhairt: "ní mhillfidh cuing do ghuch
A chruite chaoin na bh-fear saora !
Is ní cluinfear go h-eug do lán-bhinn sruth,
Lár bruide is bróin na tíre !"

by Thomas Moore
The Minstrel Boy to the war is gone
In the ranks of death you will find him;
His father's sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;

"Land of Song !" said the warrior bard,
"Tho' all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee !"

The Minstrel fell ! But the foeman's chain
Could not bring that proud soul under;
The harp he lov'd ne'er spoke again,
For he tore its chords asunder;

And said: "No chains shall sully thee,
Thou soul of love and brav'ry !
Thy songs were made for the pure and free,
They shall never sound in slavery !"

"The remarkable thing is that such Moore Melodies were rousingly sung around the piano in Victorian English drawing rooms oblivious of the fact that 'the foeman' and 'slavery's chains' referred to the English yoke." Due to its popularity, the following third verse in English was added by an unknown author.

Fillfidh an óg-laoch, tá súil againn
Nuair cloisfear an scéal gáirfimid é.
Fillfidh an óg-laoch lá amháin,
Stróicthe i gchorp ach ní sa spiorad é.

Ansin go seine sé a chruit go binn,
I ndomhan ba ea rún Neamh é,
Mar caithfear searbhas daonna a chinn,
Agus deireadh gach chath a dhéanamh.

The Minstrel Boy will return we pray
When we hear the news, we all will cheer it.
The minstrel boy will return one day,
Torn perhaps in body, not in spirit.

Then may he play on his harp in peace,
In a world such as Heaven intended,
For all the bitterness of man must cease,
And ev'ry battle must be ended.

The Minstrel Boy
Musical notes

The immediate origins of the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland can be traced to the setting up of the Society of United Irishmen in Belfast in October 1791. Inspired by the French Revolution, and with great admiration for the new democracy of the United States, the United Irishmen were led by Theobald Wolfe Tone, Thomas Russell, Henry Joy McCracken and William Drennan. They came together to secure a reform of the Irish parliament; and they sought to achieve this goal by uniting Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter in Ireland into a single movement.

Courtesy of: Vivian and Jack, IrishPage.com August 3, 2007
Replay music: Minstrel Boy sequenced by Barry Taylor from
British Colombia, Canada.

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