“Una Bhan (Fair Una)”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1960 (recording, Maire Aine Ni Dhonnchadha)
Keywords: captivity disease grief hardheartedness courting love rejection corpse death mourning foreignlanguage lament father lover
Found in: Ireland

Description

Irish Gaelic: Una's father locks her up rather than let her marry the singer. Ill, she sends for him; he finds the gates shut. If he doesn't hear from her before he has crossed the river, he won't return. A servant reaches him too late. Una dies of grief

Long description

Irish Gaelic: Una's father imprisons her in her room rather than allow her to marry the singer. Ill, she sends for him, but he finds the gates shut against him. Angry, he turns away, crying that if he doesn't hear from her by the time he has crossed the river, he'll never return. He hesitates midstream; a servant is sent after him, but he has crossed the river before the servant arrives. Una dies of grief; still bitter, he comes to visit her grave for the last time, asking her spirit to visit him (and telling her it's awful for her to be lying there with the rotting corpses). Nothing happens, and he turns away into the darkness

Notes

Maire Aine Ni Dhonnchadha learned the song from an old woman in Rosaveel, the only person from whom it's apparently been collected. - PJS

Recordings