Sunday, 22 July 2012

Traditional Songs

This is a new website by the looks of things, listing a collection of popular Irish songs, some with translation, and most with videos to a selection of versions.

Songs in Irish

Hopefully the listings and translations will be expanded in due course, but what's there is looking good so far. Some of my personal favourites such as Cailleach An Airgid (Sí Do Mhaimeo Í), 'The Hag With The Money', and Óró Sé do Bheatha 'Bhaile, 'Oh-ro, You're Welcome Home,' which Kathryn happens to have posted about just yesterday are there.

Music and song is an important part of any culture and I think most people agree that songs are a good accompaniment to any celebration or occasion (Gaol Naofa has some suggestions, incidentally). Every song tells a story, from the songs about rebellion, lost love, and even the more non-sensical ones like this one (which I learned in my first year of Gàidhlig lessons):

Tha bean agam, tha taigh agam,
Tha allt aig ceann an taigh' agam,
Tha punnd de shiabann geal agam
'S mo lèine salach grànnda.

Dè nì mi gun lèine ghlan, gun lèine gheal,
Gun lèine ghlan?
Dè nì mi gun lèine ghlan,
'S mi falbh on taigh a-màireach?

I have a wife, I have a house
There's a stream by the end of my house
I have a lump of white soap
And my shirt is really dirty!

What will I do for a clean shirt,
For a clean, white shirt?
What will I do for a clean shirt
When I want to go out tomorrow?

See here for more.

Examples like this have their roots in cultural oppression and colonialism, when musical instruments were banned and the puirt-à-beul, or 'mouth music', was the only alternative, using the lyrics themselves to lead the beat and rhythm of the song, without instrumental accompaniment. Often the lyrics don't make much sense except to fit the rhythm and beat of the tune, but even when they're otherwise 'nonsense' songs, they're mark of their time. Some people find they're a good way to learn the language, too - they're certainly an accessible way to listen to pronunciation!

These are the kind of stories that are woven into a culture, making it what it is. It's good to see that there's still an interest out there.