Lyr Req: For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name To Thread - Forum Home

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Lyr Req: For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name

04 Sep 01 - 03:29 PM (#541771)
Subject: Lyr/ For Ireland I'd tell not her name
From: GUEST,

ach as Gaielge - Dia dhuit, ta cara agam anseo i Bristol UK agus ta se a lorg na focal den amhran seo - even tho he hasnt a word of Irish he wants to sing that song (good English folk singer !)in Irish - can anyone help/him/me - 'maith agat- Donal

04 Sep 01 - 05:13 PM (#541856)
Subject: RE: Lyr/ For Ireland I'd tell not her name
From: GUEST,Philippa

Irish language lyrics are already on the Cat in another thread with the English title For Ireland I'll not tell her name
Donal, Are you going to help your friend with the pronunciation?

04 Sep 01 - 05:32 PM (#541868)
Subject: RE: Lyr/ For Ireland I'd tell not her name
From: Malcolm Douglas

This gets asked for from time to time; texts have been posted at least twice, and are quite easily found by typing, for example, for ireland i into the best of several search engines which are available on this site, the "Digitrad and Forum Search".  You will find it on the main Forum Page.  Here is another posting of Gaelic text:

For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name

As Philippa suggests, your friend would be well advised to learn at least some of the rudiments of any language he can't speak before attempting to sing in it, but I expect you've already told him that!

04 Sep 01 - 05:52 PM (#541893)
Subject: RE: Lyr/ For Ireland I'd tell not her name
From: GUEST,Donal Lynch

Philippa, Malcolm, I'm amazed at the rapid responses ! thank you both very much and also the tips on local engine management - I used to go to before it got screwed up by silly adverts on weird stuff -first time using this site- complex and comprehensive at first glance ...

Yes it's a tall order to learn the song without knowing what u are singing - though Sting and Marianne Faithful have got away with it on Chieftain's albums and even more laudably by Kate Bush who did a wonderful version of an Irish Song a few years ago- I am hoping to teach local Bristolians who have asked, basic Irish, in the new year, work permitting... I run a little Irish'ism in Bristol and we have good craic - again thanks, I'm now off to chase the song

04 Sep 01 - 06:04 PM (#541903)
Subject: RE: Lyr/ For Ireland I'd tell not her name
From: Brían

Ooo, deja vu. I think we had this discussion before. I wanted to add that the melody is Scottish, Tweedside, said to have been composed by Rizzio, secratary to Mary, Queen of Scots(Breandán Breathnach, Folk Music and Dances of Ireland.


07 Sep 01 - 07:07 AM (#544312)
Subject: RE: Lyr/ For Ireland I'd tell not her name
From: GUEST,Philippa

By the way I met a man from N Ireland who lived in Bristol and he learned Scottish Gaelic. He said there were good classes in Bristol for Scottish Gaelic but the Irish classes weren't so good. this was a few years ago.

07 Sep 01 - 03:55 PM (#544700)
Subject: RE: Lyr/ For Ireland I'd tell not her name
From: GUEST,Philippa

yes, Kate Bush sang/ recorded Mná na hÉireann. She got a lot of coaching on pronunciation.
I think Sting just sung English lyrics for Mo Ghille Mear (often spelled with one l, but that's a long story)

See previous thread (clickable links above) for reference to the tune of Ar Éirinn Ní n-Eosfainn Cé hÍ being sung in Rumania and references to publications of the melody.

12 Jan 12 - 09:11 AM (#3289266)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name
From: Mr Happy

For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name
Last eve as I wandered quiet near,
To the border's of my little farm,
A beautiful maiden appeared,
Whose loveliness caused my heart's harm,
By her daring and love smitten sour,
And the words from her sweet lips that came,
To meet her I raced the field oer,
But for Ireland i'd not tell her name.

If this beauty but my words would heed
The words that I speak would be true,
I'd help her in every need,
And indeed all her work I would do,
To win one fond kiss from my love,
I'd read her romances of fame,
Her champion I daily would prove,
But for Ireland I'd not tell her name.

There's a beautiful stately young maid,
At the nearing of my little farm,
She's welcoming kind unafraid,
Her smile is both childlike and warm,
Her gold hair in masses that grows
Like amber and sheen is that same,
And the bloom in her cheeks like the rose,
But for Ireland I'd not tell her name.

Anyone know the story of this song, why her name couldn't be told etc?

12 Jan 12 - 09:21 AM (#3289270)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name
From: clueless don

The thought just occurred to me (entirely unburdened by knowledge): could the line "For Ireland I'd not tell her name", be an archaic variation of something like "For the life of me, I don't know her name", or something like that?

When I used to see this title (never saw the words of the song), I supposed that the title meant something like "My loyalty to Ireland is greater than my loyalty to her", or else vice versa. But now I'm thinking that "She's the most wonderful creature who ever walked the Earth, but, gosh darn it, I don't know her name!" is a more likely interpretation.

Those with actual knowledge of the song should jump right in!


12 Jan 12 - 09:30 AM (#3289274)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name
From: Mr Happy

Main reason I'm asking is; I've been playing the tune in sessions a fair bit & only recently found it's a song as well, so when others ask, I want to say

12 Jan 12 - 10:17 AM (#3289296)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name
From: GUEST,999

It's listed as a trad song on a few sites dedicated to Irish music/writing.

The key to understanding it I think is the use of 'but'. It means in this instance imo that 'I know her name, but for all of Ireland itself I would not say who she is, and that's that, Jack'. Hyperbole.

Example: "I would not desecrate money were Beauty herself the prize." (Spoken by the fictional detective Nero Wolfe (created by Rex Stout)).

12 Jan 12 - 11:23 AM (#3289327)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name
From: GUEST,leeneia

I just sounded the tune out on my keyboard, and it has a range of an octave and a fifth. Few people can sing that many notes.

I suspect this was an air for an instrument, such as violin or harp, and the words were added later. IMHO the words in English are silly and awkward, and it would be best simply to let instruments have this beautiful and challenging tune.

12 Jan 12 - 11:38 AM (#3289336)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name
From: GUEST,leeneia

999 - nice to meet a fellow admirer of Nero Wolfe and Rex Stout.

12 Jan 12 - 11:57 AM (#3289347)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name
From: GUEST,999

I loved those stories, leeneia. My mother turned me onto Stout. I went looking for the old brownstone when I lived in NYC in the late 1960s. Never did find it. Wolfe was great, and I think I started reading his NW stories when I was about 13. I reread the even these days just to renew a 'friendship' with that fictional detective. The statements he got away with make me marvel to this day.

"Don't complicate matters by assuming for me a cupidity and corruption beyond the limits I have set for myself. You're suffering from an occupational disease. When an international financier is confronted by a holdup man with a gun, he automatically hands over not only his money and jewelry but also his shirt and pants, because it doesn't occur to him that a robber might draw the line somewhere."

There is a link to many of the stories and various quotations from those stories at

I just reread that link and it brings back so many memories. It's wonderful to meet another 'fan' of his. Thank you, leeneia.

13 Jan 12 - 03:52 AM (#3289770)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name
From: Jim Carroll

This is Tom Lenihan's version from 'Mount Callan Garland' - songs from the repertoire of Tom Lenihan, of Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay, Co Clare, collected and edited by Tom Munnelly (Comhairle Bhealoideas Eireann 1994 - book and 2 cassettes)
Tom Lenihan was born in 1905 and spent his life as a farmer on the slopes of Mount Callan, Co. Clare.
He had a large repertoire of songs, in English and was reknowned locally as a singer.
He once told us "I tried to play the flute, but I didn't make much of a fist of it, so I decided to sing".
He was a good friend and a great singer; he died in 1990.
The note to the song is by the late Tom Munnelly
Jim Carroll


1 There's a home by the great Avonmore,
That flows into the broad open sea,
Whilst the rivers that dash through the foam
And the bullrushes wave in the breeze.
The green ivy clings around the door,
And the birds sweetly sing on each tree.
To my darling sweet notes they do pour,
'S arEirinn ni neosfainn ce hi.

2 Her father has riches in store,
Both cattle, corn and wealth
And fine land by lovely Glandore,
While I have my youth and good health.
For she's the fond maid I adore
And her life she has pledged unto me
Without riches or no earthly store,
'S arEirinn ni neosfainn ce hi.

3 I have toiled through those years of my life,
Through sunshine, through storm and rain,
And surely I'd venture my life
To ease her one moment from pain.
I would climb the highest hills of the land
And I'd swim to the depth of the sea
To get a touch from her lily-white hand,
'S arEirinn ni neosfainn ce hi.

4 Last night as the sun was aglow
And sank right into its rest
And the clouds like mountains of snow
As they declined to the west—
To be out for to meet my own star,
And kindly she waited for me
By the old stile by lovely Glandore,
'S arEirinn ni neosfainn ce hi.

5 Like a sick man that longs for the dawn
I would long for one sight of her eye
And I'd pray for my own cailin ban
As she's waiting for me by the stile.
For she is my pride and my joy,
My comfort in life then is she.
For she is my own promised wife,
'S arEirinn ni neosfainn ce hi.

6 And when I will call her my own,
It is married we both then will be.
Like a king and a queen in their throne
We'll be living in sweet unity.
I'll do all I can for my star
And I'll rise up a nice family
On the lovely green hills of Glandore,
'S arEirinn ni neosfainn ce hi.

7 If there be any dispute by us both,
Between her loving parents and mine
On some steamer that will be afloat
We'll set off to some strange counterie,
Where we'll have a home of our own
And be at our own liberty.
And 'tis then sure her name will be known—
Yet for Ireland I'll not tell who she is!

Cassette 1, Side B, Track 3. IFC TM 81/B/2. August 19th 1972.
Tom did not recollect a specific source, although he recalled that it had been in the family a long time.

Known in Scotland as 'Tweedside', this beautiful air is said to have been written by David Rizzio (or Riccio), musician and secretary to Mary Queen of Scots. His affection for the Queen was manifest and the amount of time he spent in her private chamber the source of much speculation. On March 9th 1566 the unfortunate Italian was dragged from the pregnant Queen's side and butchered before her eyes by a number of armed lords who delivered him no less than fifty dagger-strokes.(Ref.61)
In its Irish form this song, (trans.'For Ireland I will not tell whom she is'), is classified as a reverdie by O Tuama.(Ref. 62) The classification refers to the greenwood setting in which the poet encounters the beautiful maiden much as in an aisling. However, if they are vision-poems, O Tuama reminds us that they are 'aisling na súl n-oscailte go minic'.(Ref.63) And indeed some versions of the song carried intimations of carnality which at least implied that the interpretations of the singers at any rate were down-to-earth, no matter how high-flown the poetry. When Conny Cochlan of Derrynasaggart, Baile Bhuirne, sang his version for A.M. Freeman in 1914 he told the collector that it was a dialogue between a married man and his brother, a priest, in which the former lets the priest know that he is aware of his passion for his wife!(Ref. 64) The Clare Gaelic scholar Eugene O' Curry stated that this song was written originally about 1810 by a Finneen, or Florence, Scannell, a Kerry schoolmaster (Ref.65).
The song in English which Tom sings has been about for a good many years likewise, as is witnessed by the similar version which Freeman noted down in London in 1915. Interestingly enough in our context, his informant was a Frank Brewe from Ruan in West Clare.(Ref.66)

61 Breandan Breathnach, Folkmusic and Dances of Ireland (Educational Co. of Ireland, Dublin, 1971), 33; Francis Collinson, The Traditional and National Music of Scotland (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1966) 128; John Prebble, The Lion in the North, One Thousand Years of Scotland's History (Penguin Books, London, 1973) 196-7.
62 Sean O Tuama, op. cit. 176.
63 'Visions often beheld with open eyes,' ibid, 174
64 A. Martin Freeman, 'Irish Folk Songs [from Baile Mhuirne] in JFSS (London, 1921), No. 25, Part 5, vol. VI, 136.
65 Tomas O Concheanainn, Nua-Dhuanaire III (Institiuid Ardleinn Bhaile Atha Cliath, 1978), 91.
66 Freeman, op. cit. 133-4.

---------- Minor editing for clarity. JoeClone------------

13 Jan 12 - 06:27 AM (#3289848)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name
From: Mr Happy

Jim Carroll,

Thanks for that info.

I've more to tell now when asked.

The set of words is far superior to what I'd found previously.

Nice sung version here: