Clannad – “An Crúiscín Lán” (The Little Full Jug).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today let’s listen to a cheerful tune, a sort of drinking song I guess we could call it, from Clannad’s live album from Bremen. I’ve found a lot of crappy translations of this, and one that seems reliable which comes from here. 

   

When I die, don’t bury me, but take me to the alehouse. I’d rather listen to the beat of drinking mugs than to the sweet music of the cuckoo. So fill to us the little jug and keep it full.

There is a girl in this village as lovely as you’ll find anywhere … so fill the jug …

Will come and will you stay, Dónal, and have you drunk enough?. I’ll come, not stay, and I’ll have a lovely girl if she takes my advice, so fill the jug …

This is a great town … and wouldn’t it be a good place for a young woman to dwell in, even for just a quarter of a year, so fill the jug …

Georgia Ruth – “Madryn”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Even though it’s summer already, and pretty hot over here, I thought we’d listen to a song from Georgia Ruth’s spring-filled album from two years ago called Mai (May). I don’t really know much about this piece, I don’t even know what, if anything, Madrynn means in Welsh, as my dictionary doesn’t know this word, but I like how this song sounds. 

Plu – “Nos Da Nawr” (Goodnight Now).

   Hiya people! 🙂 

   For today, I have a lovely little children’s lullaby for you, from Plu’s album called Holl Anifeiliaid y Goedwig (All Animals of the Forest). As far as I can tell, this lullaby is about what various animals do before bedtime and how they prepare for sleep. 

Mared – “Y Drefn” (The Order).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   For today, I have a beautiful song for you, the title track from Mared Williams’ last year’s album, which was deemed Welsh-language Album of the Year and from which I’ve already shared several songs because it’s really cool and very versatile musically. Mared is also someone whom I don’t think I really need to introduce on here, but for any newbies to my blog out there and people who are green in Welsh-language music, she is a young singer from Conwy, who is great at everything from jazz through pop to folk, and also rock, as part of the band Y Trŵbz. I really like this acoustic piece, and decided to share a live version of it with you. 

Song of the day (21st June) – Siân James – “Y Llyn” (The Lake).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Here’s the song that I was supposed to share with you yesterday, by a Welsh singer, harpist and pianist Siân James, whose music appears fairly frequently on here. 

Ailie Robertson – “Old Maids of Galway/Downey’s/Brian Kelly’s”.

   Hiya people! 🙂 

   For today I have for you a medley of three traditional Celtic tunes played by the Scottish harpist AIlie Robertson, whose music I’ve frequently shared on here before. I believe all of these tunes are Irish in origins. 

 Ailie Robertson – “Old Maids of Galway/Downey’s/Brian Kelly’s

Clannad – “Two Sisters”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I thought I’d share with you a song by Clannad, one that has loads and loads of different versions in different European countries, with varying details of the story, but the core is always the same – there are two sisters and one man who is in love with the younger sister, but the older sister is very much in love with him and jealous of the younger, so she drowns her. – I have already shared one version of this song, sung by Emily Portman from England. If I had to choose between these two, I think I prefer Emily’s version, but they’re both great each in its own way, and I might be sharing more versions of this song in the future, because I think there are many great ones out there. 

Phamie Gow ft. The Royal Scots Dragon Guards – “The Celtic Knot”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you a tune played by the Scottish multi-instrumentalist Phamie Gow. I’ve shared a few of her pieces on here before, and most of them were for piano, but in this one, we can hear Phamie playing the harp. 

Nansi Richards – “Morfa Rhuddlan” (Marsh of Rhuddlan).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you an old Welsh tune, played by the Celtic and Welsh triple harpist Nansi Richards, whose music I’ve shared many times before on here. As the title suggests, this song is associated with a small town in North Wales called Rhuddlan, which is surrounded by marshland. It  commemorates battles that the Welsh fought with Mercians in 8th century in that area. 

Adrian von Ziegler – “Faire Forest”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   The piece I have for you today is by German musician and composer Adrian von Ziegler, who I believe is quite popular with people who are into music that has a sort of fantasy vibe to it, or even among people who enjoy Celtic music but not necessarily the very traditional, rootsy folk. I’d say his sound is quite similar to that of Jeff Victor, whose one song I shared with you guys last year, or Peder B Helland who is a Norwegian composer to whom I used to listen a fair bit as a teenager. I generally tend to prefer the more folky Celtic stuff where Celtic music is concerned, but I still do like some of his music because it can be quite stimulating for one’s imagination. . And this is one of my favourite pieces by him. I like that it’s a harp piece, and it has an interesting melody, and is indeed quite evocative of fairies in my opinion. . 

Plu – “Llwynog Coch Sy’n Cysgu” (Red Fox is Sleeping).

   And for today I also chose a song that Gwilym Bowen Rhys has contributed to, ‘cause why not? It’s a song by the band Plu who surely are well-known to the more regular readers of my blog – the alt-folk sibling trio of Elan, Marged and Gwilym Rhys. – It is a nice little Welsh nursery rhyme or a lullaby, from their album Holl Anifeiliaid y Goedwig (All Animals of the Forest) with a very self-explanatory title as to what it is about. I really like their arrangement of it. I rarely translate Welsh songs for you myself as I still don’t feel as confident in this as I do with Swedish or even Norwegian, but (even though as you’ll find out this song has such extremely sophisticated and difficult lyrics) I was able to translate it for you, and, miraculously, my brain hasn’t even exploded as a result of such ultra-strenuous activity, yay! 

  Red Fox is sleeping
Red Fox is sleeping
Red Fox is sleeping
On the meadow.
Red Fox is dreaming
Red Fox is dreaming
Red fox is dreaming
On the meadow
Who is going to see
Who is going to see
Who is going to see
On the meadow?
A red eye is opening
A red eye is opening
A red eye is opening
On the meadow
Red fox is waking
Red fox is waking
Red fox is waking
On the meadow
Red fox is wandering
Red fox is wandering
Red fox is wandering
On the meadow
Red fox is tired
Red fox is tired
Red fox is tired
On the meadow
Red fox is sleeping
Red fox is sleeping
Red fox is sleeping
On the meadow

Song of the day (3rd June) – Gwilym Bowen Rhys – “Hogyn Gyrru’r Wedd” (The Ploughboy).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   I’d like to share with you all one more song from Gwilym Bowen Rhys’ album Detholiad o hen Faledi I (Selection of Old Ballads I). This song is actually a translation from English, the original traditional English song is called The Farmer’s Boy. It is said to have been written by Charles Whitehead, the brother-in-law of the Reverend Thomas Fownes Smith who was a Baptist minister in Little Leigh in England and the song is allegedly based on Reverend Smith’s life, though it was popular all around England. It’s sung to the tune of the Napoleonic Wars song called Ye Sons of ALbion. The Welsh version was written by the poet Richard Davies Mynyddog. I like this version a lot more than the English one, both in terms of the lyrics, which feel a bit more evocative, and Gwilym’s interpretation. The translation below comes, as is usually the case with Gwilym’s songs on my blog, from Gwilym’s website.  Please keep in mind that, like I said, it’s Gwilym’s English translation of the Welsh translation, rather than the English original. I emphasise that because I’ve had quite a few confused non-Welsh speakers coming here and wondering about Welsh versions of English songs that I’ve shared on here and why the lyrics on my blog aren’t the same that they are familiar with. 🙂 

The sun it sinks over the hill
into the depths like some giant
When a frightful pale boy knocks
on the door of a big farmhouse.
He asks from ‘neath his sack
With his cheeks all grey;
“where can I earn a little poor wage
As a ploughboy?
As a ploughboy?”

“There’s seven of us with my mother
And my father’s in a damp grave
And worse than this, me myself
Is the eldest of all seven,
I’ll do my part, despite my small size
And despite how grey my cheeks are,
If I can only earn a little poor wage
As a ploughboy,
As a ploughboy.”

“If my help is not needed
May I have from you
Some shelter through the wet night
From the cold of the black winter.
After a long night I’ll look for work
So that my cheeks can be restored,
If I can only earn a little poor wage
As a ploughboy
As a ploughboy”

Well the wife of the house lovingly said;
“Take him for goodness sake!”
“ Yes father!” says the daughter
With her tears flowing down.
“It’s a pity that there’s anyone now
Still wandering with grey cheeks”
If he could only earn a little poor wage
As a ploughboy,
As a ploughboy.

The father and mother went before long
To Tan-y-Graig cemetery,
And the house became property of the lad
And the daughter became his wife.
In a pure home he sings a song
With gentle and healthy cheeks,
Remembering the day he came to the house
As a ploughboy
As a Ploughboy.


Gwilymm Bowen Rhys – “Er Fy Ngwaethaf” (Despite Myself).

   Hiya people! 🙂 

   Even though I’ve shared a song by Gwilym just a couple days ago, today I feel like sharing yet another one with you, this time round one with a  more contemporary feel to it lyrically. THis song comes from his album called Arenig, and while I absolutely love this album as a whole, this has to be one of my favourite songs on it, just after “Lloer Dirion Lliw’r Dydd” (Gentle Moon, Colour of the Day) and “Clychau’r Gog” (Bluebells). It was written by young Welsh poet ELis Dafydd, who I’m pretty sure is also from somewhere in the Caernarfon area, and the fact that the village of Brynrefail is mentioned here could indicate that too. The music to this poem was composed by Gwilym. Below is Gwilym’s translation of it. 

   A few names, a few songs,
a few fags that are looking for a flame,
a few shadows in the eyes of an old friend,
a few that I haven’t loved until they have gone.
 
A few sunrays that are hot on the back of my neck,
a few of the old faces in the mirror above the bar.
A few afternoons in empty carparks
with a girl from Brynrefail that’s escaping to Prague
 
A few old lads in the corner by themselves
who drink to health every Monday morning.
Whilst these things are there, I will be a slave
to every swallow between now and Summer

Gwilym Bowen Rhys – “Cerdd Braich y Saint” (Song of Braich Y Saint).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today, let’s listen to a song from Gwilym Bowen Rhys’ first album in his Detholiad o hen Faledi (Selection of Old Ballads) series. This song was written by Robert Williams, also known as Robin Fawr o Fynytho around 1870. It’s written from the perspective of a farm-hand, who has been hired by a farmer from a place called Braich y Saint in Criciedd who initially makes a very good impression on his new employee, but eventually, as he starts working there, he turns out to be a very nasty and difficult boss. The translation below comes from Gwilym’s website. 

 

Old Cadwaladr came on his grey mare
From Cricieth to Pwllheli to hire four farm-hands
He came to me quite pleasantly, on his face, a big smile
And I signed up, thinking I’d get the kindest master in the world.

Early on Friday I started on my way
To serve in Eifionydd, leaving Llŷn behind
To a lovely little place called Braich-Y-Saint,
I was there a few days, It won’t pay to say how long.

The slopes where steep an the scythe was blunt
And old Cadwaladr was a very difficult man indeed,
He’d rise in the morning with his cheeks full of wind
Shouting ‘wake up boys! It’s a quarter past five!’

After the boys had risen and taken the horses to water
And had returned, they’d eat flour and water pottage,
He’d order all to work, running around like a mad man
But that’s how Caswaladr was, a hard man t’wards his servants

I was raised at home, I never proved any suffering
But this year at Braich-Y-Saint I’m living on dry bread,
a herring on the forge, with a very bad taste
But you know what Cadwaladr was like, a hard man t’wards his servants

In dismal Braich-y-Saint there’s a bed like a carriage
Where I tried to sleep with my belly half empty
And the old Sow’s meat was hard and tasteless
But you know what Cadwaladr was like, a hard man t’wadrs his servants

Farewell to pulling swedes, farewell to the pick’n’shovel,
Farewell to the thin mare lying in the dirt,
Farewell to the white headed bull and the grey mare,
Farewell to old Cadwaladr, a hard man t’wards his servants.

Áine Minogue – “Griogal Cridhe” (Beloved Gregor).

   Hi people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you a Scottish Gaelic lament, or lullaby, sung by an Irish singer who lives in the US. I think I have shared three songs by Aine Minogue on my blog so far and surely must have mentioned how she was one of my most favourite Celtic folk singers and harpists when I was a teenager. I still like her a lot, and this has always been one of my favourite songs by her. Generally, this song has a very interesting melody in my opinion, and I like most versions of it that I’ve heard. 

   It was written in the 16th century by a woman called Mór Chaimbeull after the death of her husband,  the chief of the Clan Mac Gregor, Griogair Ruadh Mac Griogair, or Gregor the Red Mac Gregor in English who was executed at Taymouth Castle. 

   Here’s the translation of this song: 

   Many a night both wet and dry
Weather of the seven elements
Gregor would find for me a rocky shelter
Which I would take eagerly.
Obhan, Obhan, Obhan iri
Obhan iri O!
Obhan Obhan Obhan iri,
Great is my sorrow, great.
I climbed into the upper chamber
And lay upon the floor
And I would not find my dearest Gregor
At the table in his place.
Great darling of the World’s people
They spilt your blood yesterday
And they put your head on an oaken stake
Near where your body lay.
Though now I have no apples,
And others have them all,
My own apple, fragrant, handsome –
And the back of his head on the ground.
I would be glad to be with dear Gregor
Guarding cattle in the glen
Instead of with the great Baron of Dalach,
White silk around my head.
While the young wives of the town
Serenely sleep tonight
I will be at the edge of your gravestone
Beating my two hands.

Phyllis Taylor Sparks – “Celtic Farewell”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to introduce you to another harpist, whose music has never yet been featured on my blog before. Phyllis Taylor Sparks is from Nashville, and she plays both pedal as well as Celtic harp, and has also been a harp teacher since a young age. This gentle piece comes from her album called Harp Horizons. 

Órla Fallon – “Mo Ghile Mear” (My Gallant Darling).

   Hiya people! 🙂 

   For today I chose to share with you this Irish folk song, which is quite modern as we know it in its current form, but whose origins actually go back to the 18th century. It was composed in 1972-ish by Dónal Ó Liatháin with lyrics partially based on several Jacobite poems written by Seán “Clárach” MacDomhnaill and set to a tune collected by the composer Seán Ó Riada from a man called Domhnall Ó Buachalla from Cúil Aodha in Cork. One of the original poems on which this song is based (whose title translates to MY Heart is Sore With Sorrow Deep in English) is written in the voice of Éire – the personification and goddess of Ireland – lamenting the failure of the Jacobite rising of 1745 and the exile of Charles Edward Stuart or Bonnie Prince Charlie. The other one (known as Over the Hills and Far Away in English) was written during the Jacobite rising of 1715, with the lamented hero this time being James Francis Edward Stuart.Ó Liatháin decided to pick the least explicitly Jacobite-sounding verses from both poems, and because he composed it a year after Ó Riada’s – the aforementioned collector of the original tune – death, this new song was created as a lament for his death.

   I’ve already shared several songs by Órla Fallon so I guess she doesn’t need a special introduction on here, but for those who don’t know she’s an Irish singer and Celtic harpist who used to be a member of the Irish all-female group Celtic Woman (who also did their version of this song, by the way) and has released several great solo albums since leaving the group. 

The translation i Found has “mo ghile mear” as “my dashing darling”, but it seems to be known more widely as “gallant” rather than “dashing” so that’s why I put “gallant” in the post title. 

   My dashing darling is my hero
He’s my Caesar, a dashing darling,
I’ve got no rest and no pleasure
Since my dashing darling went to a distant land.

I’m incessantly sorrowing each day,
Lamenting sorely and showing signs of tears
As the lively lad has been separated from me
And no news from him is told, my sadness.

My dashing darling is my hero
He’s my Caesar, a dashing darling,
I’ve got no rest and no pleasure
Since my dashing darling went to a distant land.

My dashing darling is my hero
He’s my Caesar, a dashing darling,
I’ve got no rest and no pleasure
Since my dashing darling went to a distant land.

Let a story be sung on tuneful harps
and let lots of quarts be filled on the table
with high spirits faultless and unclouded
to find life and good health for my lion1

My dashing darling is my hero
He’s my Caesar, a dashing darling,
I’ve got no rest and no pleasure
Since my dashing darling went to a distant land.

Clannad – “Eleanor Plunkett”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   I have already shared with you two versions of this Irish tune composed by Turlough O’Carolan, one played by Lynn Saoirse and the other by Celia Briar, and today I thought I’d share another one, this time played by Clannad. You can click the above links to learn a bit more about the song. 

Gwilym Bowen Rhys – “Ben Rhys”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   I was listening to this song this morning and was wondering how come I don’t remember ever posting it on here in the song of the day series. But I checked and I indeed have not shared it before, as weird as it is. I say it’s weird because, well, I have obviously posted a lot of Gwilym Bowen Rhys’ music, both solo and with the bands he’s played and sung with, and this song seems to be one of his more popular/successful ones, also it was the first song from his solo album that I happened to come across when my faza on him was starting out, when I was already familiar with Plu and Y Bandana. It’s also a really good song and a very interesting one because it’s just about as folky as it gets while at the same time having this sort of bluesy and indie feel to it that I think can make it very accessible for those who perhaps aren’t necessarily as muchh into folk as Bibiels are. So this finally had to happen at some point. 

   This song was written by Gwilym together with his mum – Siân Harris – and it tells the story of his great-great-great-grandfather, Ben Rhys, who was a coal miner and died tragically in the Cymmer Colliery explosion in South Wales in 1856, from his point of view. While it was included on Gwilym’s 2016 debut album O Groth y Ddaear (From the Womb of the Earth), enthusiasts of Welsh-language music could have heard it two years earlier already, because he also sang it at the Cân i Gymru (Song for Wales) competition in 2014. It was his second time taking part in it, he also competed with the song Garth Celyn in 2012, which he co-wrote with his mum as well and which is also written from the perspective of a historical figure. The translation comes from Gwilym’s website. 

    My name is Ben Rhys, a man and a collier
And a pure Welshman under my dirty shell,
One of the ants of the pit in the centre of my valley
And I mine in the darkness day in day out
Yes I mine all my days to put bread on the table,
Labouring for hours in this underground furnace
Yes, I work under hardship
And sweat in the darkness
Just to earn mere pennies
Doing my duty as a father and husband

One mid-summer’s dawn I descend into the pit
And the humid walls close in about me
Under weak and fragile beams and my candle’s naked flame
I leave the light of day for the last time
Yes I leave the light of day unconscious of my fate,
The lack of air overwhelming and pressing on my flesh,
Yes, I’m choking from the gasses
Amongst the deafening beating of hammers,
The beating of picks, and my heartbeat quickening in my breast.

My name is Ben Rhys, I was a man and a collier
And a pure Welshman under my dirty shell,
A man, father and brother, one of four in a grave,
And the grave is one of twenty that are open,
Yes the grave is one of twenty that are open in my valley
And the widows are lamenting and the children are weeping, Repressed under the master’s feet ,
Masters who only want to fill their pockets,
And that flee from justice, an injustice to this day.