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Lyr Req: Cuchullan's Lament for His Son

GUEST,Heather w 31 Jul 06 - 11:05 AM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 31 Jul 06 - 11:53 AM
Sorcha 31 Jul 06 - 12:51 PM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 31 Jul 06 - 01:33 PM
Jim Dixon 31 Jul 06 - 02:09 PM
Sorcha 31 Jul 06 - 02:59 PM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 02 Aug 06 - 11:28 AM
Sorcha 02 Aug 06 - 11:37 AM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 03 Aug 06 - 01:33 PM
Joe Offer 06 Jul 20 - 06:33 PM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 07 Jul 20 - 05:07 AM
Backwoodsman 07 Jul 20 - 05:35 AM
Jim Dixon 10 Jul 20 - 12:48 PM
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Subject: Cuchullan's lament for his son
From: GUEST,Heather w
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 11:05 AM

Does anyone know anything about the folksong "Cuchullan's lament for his son" from the hebrides? I have been trying to find out the story.Seems like his mother has lead him to death in some way and his dad is a bit upset.


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Subject: RE: Cuchullan's lament for his son
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 11:53 AM

I don't know the particular song you mention (tho' I can suggest a few sources you might try), but the story is, in outline, as you mention. It shares some features with other traditional tales, such as "Sohrab and Rustum" of which the nineteenth-century English writer, Matthew Arnold, made a long narrative version. Here goes:

Cuchullain did not know he had a son; this boy, who was, I think, called Connla, had been brought up in a distant land, perhaps Scotland, by his mother, and educated in all the ways of the warrior. Cuchullain knew he MIGHT have a son, having spent a romantic afternoon with some princess or other after - I think - defeating her retainers in combat. Well, diplomacy was different and more direct in those days. He had said to the princess that should there come a male child of their encounter, let him be called Connla. When the lad was of an age to seek his fortune in the world, he set sail for Ireland; whether he had any intention of seeking out his father, or whether it was by the kind of misfortune typical of folk-tales that he found him, I know not (I'll check further this evening; doing this from memory at present). Anyway, whilst Cuchullain and some comrades were hunting near to the sea, they saw a lad sailing a boat towards shore, alone. They go to meet him, and, he being a stranger, they call to him to tell them his name, his race, whence he came, &c. He - being young and foolish - immediately challenges any of them, their greatest champion, to fight (well, this is ancient Ireland, land of heroes and quick-tempered bowsies). Cuchullain, laughing, accepts, confident that he will quickly overpower the youth. Things don't quite go like that, and soon enough Cuchullain finds himself with a real fight on his hands, and is near to being drowned in the surf. Enrages, he calls to the shore for one of his companions to throw him "The Gae Bolg". Now, at this point we require a footnote*
Having read the footnote, you'll have guessed the end of the story of Connla, inevitable as the Greek Tragedies. The lad, mortally wounded and fallen in the bloody foam, gasped that his name was "Connla", and Cuchullain knew all in a flash. To conclude, he swore never to use the Gae Bolg again, since the first time of using it he had killed his dearest friend, and this time he had killed his only son.


As I say, I don't know the particular song you mean, but this evening I'll check a few sources I have, and suggest a couple of others here: First, for Hebridean Songs, you might like to try Marjorie Kennedy-Fraser, "Songs of the Hebrides", tho' these are really nineteenth-century "art songs" based upon Highland melodies and a rather Victorian impression of what the Gaels and their songs were like. Rather more esoteric is the eighteenth-century work of James MacPherson; let no-one tell you the usual lie that his "Ossian" publications are forgeries from end to end. A more considerable scholar than those who reiterate this lie, Ruaridh MacTomas (D.S.Thomson) brought out a book some twenty years ago, "Gaelic Sources of MacPherson's Ossian", indicating the traditional tales from which MacPherson wove his own epic. Ossian, the Irish Oisin (Usheen), was the son of Fionn MacCumhaill (Finn McCool), a hero of a later date than Cuchullain. There were some songs taken from, or based upon, MacPherson's "Fragments of Ancient Poetry", his "Fingal" and his "Temora", and a couple of these appeared in the six volumes of "The Scots Musical Museum" (1787-1803, partly edited - and, indeed, partly written - by Burns). Continental composers were greatly taken by these tales, and perhaps the best known of all foreign versions is "Pourquoi me reveiller" from Massenet's opera "Werther"; Goethe's hero had a taste for Ossian, you see! Finally, in the 1890s W.B. Yeats wrote a few verses full of "embroideries from the old myhologies", among these being "The Wanderings of Oisin" and "The Death of Cuchullin". Among his literary circle was Lady Gregory of Coole Park, and she had written "Cuchullin of Muirthuimne" (or similar spelling), which I haven't ever read, but you might find this a worthwhile "link". Finally (2), look at "Emer's Farewell" in the Mudcat directory here, for yet another nineteenth-century Romantic interpretation of Celtic myth. Now, I must mount my chariot and avoid the ridge of war.

mise le meas,

An Buachaill Caol Dubh.




* Here we go! The Gae Bolg, the "Belly Spear", was a contemporary Weapon of Massive Destruction, which filled the victim's body with barbs and was invariably fatal. There was no defence. Some time before our main story, when Cuchullain (The Ulster hero) had fought Ferdia, the champion of Connaught, Ferdia bound a great flat stone across his torso because he knew C. might use the Gae Bolg. He knew this because he was - in the way of these tales - a childhood friend of C. The stone was of no avail; it shattered and F. died in C's arms. Now, back to Connla.


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Subject: RE: Cuchullan's lament for his son
From: Sorcha
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 12:51 PM

Yes, Conlai was raised on Alba, by the Warrior Queen there...Aoife.
She put a Curse on Cu/Conlai, that he would kill his son for leaving her.


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Subject: RE: Cuchullan's lament for his son
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 01:33 PM

Fair enough! But Aoife; was she the boy's mother (or another of Cuchulainn's abandoned conquests?) Incidentally, I think that Conlai when sailing his boat to shore was amusing himself by hurling stones from a sling at seagulls, and catching/reviving them as they fell?


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Subject: RE: Cuchullan's lament for his son
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 02:09 PM

Apparently there has never been a thread about this song before. Since we've now started one, we might as well make it the repository for all sorts of information about it.

Here is the entry from folktrax.org:
    CUCHULLAN'S LAMENT FOR HIS SON - "Woe is me my son a-keening" - KENNEDY FRASER: SOTH vol 2 1917 pp24-6 "Cuchulann 's a Mhac" coll & transl by Kenneth McLeod from Duncan McLelland, Eigg, Hebrides
Now, does anyone have the lyrics, in either Gaelic or English?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cuchullan's Lament for His Son
From: Sorcha
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 02:59 PM

And, anotner of Cu's geas was that neither he nor his line could kill birds.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cuchullan's Lament for His Son
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 11:28 AM

Nor eat the flesh of a dog!

For "GUEST Heather"; I couldn't find anything on the song in what few books I own, tho' there is a (prose) version of "The Death of Cuthullin" in MacPherson's Ossian. As you'll have seen already from Jim Dixon's note, the song you want does indeed appear in Kennedy-Fraser. It shouldn't be difficult to get hold of those Volumes in any major [Reference] Library, depending where you're located.

Buachaill


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cuchullan's Lament for His Son
From: Sorcha
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 11:37 AM

Well, good grief, eat his namesake??? Of course not! :)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cuchullan's Lament for His Son
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 03 Aug 06 - 01:33 PM

Yes, quite right; we'll let them work that one out for themselves, eh? Must assume that diets were more varied in Eireann in "the days of old", I guess. Setanta wouldn't have thought much of the Orient.

An Buachaill Caol Dubh agus Madrin Ruadh.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cuchullan's Lament for His Son
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Jul 20 - 06:33 PM

Does this belong in this thread?

Thread #37933   Message #2648054
Posted By: MartinRyan
04-Jun-09 - 07:28 AM
Thread Name: Sporting hero songs?
Subject: RE: Sporting hero songs?

Here's the words for Cuchulainn's Son :

The challenge of an ancient game
Brought glory, glory to your name
Though March winds blew the crowds still came
To watch you gentle hero.
In life's long march you made us proud
And many a voice from out the crowd
Called out your name aloud, aloud
An echo still resounding.

CHORUS
And Blackstairs men who saw you then
Still speak of you in awe,
On Carman's green where you had been
They tell of what they saw,
We watched you on September fields
And lightning was the drive
You were the one Cuchulainn's son in 1955.

The hand that held the stick of ash,
And the man who led with style and dash,
Oh! Carrigtwohill once felt the crash
And Bennettsbridge and Thurles.
And when in later life, you met
The devil on that lonely street
You showed us how to take defeat
With dignity and courage.

CHORUS

The last parade was sad and slow
The last oration spoken low
And as, on green fields long ago
The Diamond stood beside you
Old friends they flanked you side by side
And the tears they shed were tears of pride
An ash tree toppled when you died
And scattered seeds at random.

CHORUS

In the cold light of day, it reads as almost banal and over-sentimental - and is sometimes sung that way! But to hear one of the Berry brothers of Wexford sing it to (and with) a crowd of hurling enthusiasts is quite something.

I know there was a final verse added when the last of the three Rackard brothers died, recently - but don't have it to hand.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cuchullan's Lament for His Son
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 07 Jul 20 - 05:07 AM

Not really! Cuchulainn, the mythological figure, was reputedly a skilful hurler (as in the ancient Irish stick/ball game) - hence the reference to the modern sportsman Nicky Rackard as being his "son". A fine song, particularly in its place of origin.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cuchullan's Lament for His Son
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 07 Jul 20 - 05:35 AM

No lyrics, but fine playing by Davy Spillane here.


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Subject: Lyr Add: CUCHULLAN'S LAMENT FOR HIS SON (Hebrides)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 10 Jul 20 - 12:48 PM

I think this is what was wanted in the original request:

From Songs of the Hebrides, Volume 2 by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser, Kenneth MacLeod (London: Boosey & Co., 1917), page 24, which has a musical score for piano and one voice.


CUCHULLAN'S LAMENT FOR HIS SON
Cuchulann 's a Mhac.


Air and words from Duncan Maclellan, Eigg.
Collected and translated by
KENNETH MACLEOD.

Arranged by
MARJORY KENNEDY-FRASER.

ENGLISH: Woe is me! My son a-keening!
Loud o'er the moor my wail-cry,
Clanging thy shield and flame-keen sword,
Who lieth asleep in death cold.
Malisons be on thee, 'Aife,
Weaving thy pell o' hating
Thou didst wile him to his doom,
A-seeking Cuchullan of great feats
Woe is me! My son a-keening!
Lord o'er the moor my wail-cry
Cuchullan has slain Cuchullllan's son,
now lying asleep in death cold.

GAELIC: Och nan och is och eire!
Trem mi ri siubhal beinne,
Arm mo mhic 's an dara laimh
'S a sgiath 's a laimh eile
Mile mollachd air an Aife,
'Si dh'araich mi fo na geasa,
'Si chuir mise gu'm fhulang,
A dh'ionnuidh Cuchulann nan cleasa
Och nan och, is och eire!
Trom me ri siubhal beinne,
Arm mo mhic 's an dara laimh
'Sa sgiath's a laimh eile.


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