Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ochón A Mhuire Bhúidh

lyrics of the song-from the poetry book that accompanies the vinyl of "Where Splendour Falls"*

Óchón a Mhuire Bhúidh was written by the last chieftain of the McCarthy Clan-Domhnall MacCarthaigh Mór. The piece is a lament that pleads to the Virgin Mary to save him from his wife who has him tormented and destroyed by, among other things, her beauty. I put the melody to the words. That air appears in a book about Killarney that I’ve forgotten the name of. The melody/lament was overheard by an English tourist in the 1850’s as he followed a funeral up Bóthairín na Marbh in Aghadoe. I scribbled it down when reading the book, I think it fits hand in glove with Domhnall's words. Here is a link to a past post concerning Domhnall and Óchón a Mhuire Bhúidh.

I once had a dream, years before I knew of the poem or the King. In the dream I was walking down by the Deenagh River.  I saw a man dressed as an Earl sitting on a riverside seat. The Earl was lamenting the fact that he was dressed like an English Prince. He said he was once a gaelic poet called féileacán oíche. Now, féileacán oíche, is the Irish for a moth. The moment he spoke the words-féilecán oíche-the dream turned into a vision of a moth right in front of my eyes. Music lifted, a lament rose up, and the moth shot down-skirting along the surface of the water. Domhnall was known as “An Chéad Iarla” (the first Earl)-though you would rue the day if you were unfortunate enough to call him by that title. He took the unfortunate moniker under the English policy of surrender and regrant. Maybe what is to be taken form all this is...

ní h-uasal na íseal ach thuas seal agus thíos seal

If you were to translate that it would be something like-“Life isn’t a matter of lower class or higher class, but up for a while and down for a while.”

Heres a rough translation of the poem. If anyone else feels like doing a proper job on it, please do.

Oh mother Mary hear my lament,
Hand maiden of God –
I gave the love of my soul to a woman
Who killed me.

So be it, powerful mary,
Like the will of the tide
I died directly,
Mother of God.

I gave the love of my soul to a woman,
But God,
I never told her
she destroyed me.

The love of her white breasts and beautiful way,
Like a pale lily.
Her braided ribbons of hair falling like a vision,
She is a heavy weight.

The love of her beautiful crystalline way,
Like a rose that never sinned,
And her two hands,
that beckoned me on,

Her smooth white healthy body,
Took my mind from me,
Seven thousand sweetnesses
in the sound of her and her voice,
I’m an ill man from her,

I follow in lamentation,
A sad, sorrowful, poor man,
It’s a pity a crowd isn’t
piling rocks on my grave.

Its sad I have no Brothers praying over me-
Saying psalms,
As I came, sweet Mary,
To be a dead person.

The song of her mouth, sweet like a rose
Perfumed like incense,
That has me at the edge of death,
And for what reason?

Beautiful girl that has my very essence,
Even my body,
By right and by law,
I should pay the death ‘eric.’

Save me, it is you can,
Her limbs are without fault,
Save me with the 'conversation of our bodies,'
Hear my lament.

To reserve a copy of the vinyl of "Where Splendour Falls" (the record is being printed as we speak) send an e-mail to

Paul Dooley is the harpist on this track. I'm very lucky to have him collaborating with me on this and Do Threascair An Saol. Thanks a million to YoYo Park too, who is the piano player on Ochón A Mhuire Bhúidh. I'm singing, playing the bass and tinkering on the other various electronic sounds.

*The engraving of the lady in corner is of an Irish noble woman from the 16th century. It appears in the book "An Dunaire, Poems of The Dispossessed."

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