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GUEST,Barbara Origins: Fill, Fill, a Run O (28) RE: Origins: Fill, Fill, a Run O 15 Nov 08

RTE, the Irish Televison Station, showed a programme about 10 or 12 years ago telling the story of "Fill, Fill a Run O". I was fascinated with the story as I had learned this song in school in 1966 and had been singing it ever since but I never knew its origins.

A Donegal mother composed it in the mid-1800's as her lament for one of her sons who had become a Protestant Minister.

The story goes that her two sons had set sail for a Seminary in Europe to become priests of the Roman Catholic Church. They were shipwrecked off the coast of Wales and a Welsh family took them in and nursed them back to full health. Then one of the two men continued his travels to Europe to become a priest of the Roman Catholic Church (in which he was reared - "an ord inar oileadh tu")and the other stayed on in Wales where he later became a Minister of the Church of England.

After a number of years, both sons returned to their home town in Donegal - one as a Priest (of the poor parish i.e. Catholic) and the other as a Minister (of the wealthy parish i.e. Church of Ireland). It broke the mother's heart to see her son turn his back on the faith in which he was reared, the faith of Ss. Peter and Paul and the Mother of Glory, to gain the riches of gold and silver. Her plea in the chorus of the song is to her son, the Minister, to "Return, return my Love" ("Fill, fill a Run O") to the faith in which he was reared.

The music conveys the heartbreak of the mother. I understand that the mother composed both the music and the words.

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