1. The Mermaid

From the album The Twilight Realm

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(An Mhaighdean Mhara)
This song is from Donegal; one of the few mermaid songs that have come down to us. The mermaid’s daughter (Maire) speaks highly of her mother (who she sorely misses), and the mother answers, expressing her weariness and the fact that she is lonely for her children.

This song is somewhat unusual in that it takes place after the mermaid has returned to the sea. In many of the mermaid and selkie stories, the leaving of the land also marks the end of the narrative. In contrast to the complexity of the emotion the mermaid feels, being torn between love for her shore bound children and the magnetic pull of the sea, I love the deceptive simplicity of the melody.


(An Mhaighdean Mhara)

Is cosúil gur mheath tú nó gur thréig tú an greann,
Tá an sneachta go freasach fá bhéal na mbeann,
Do chúl buí dait ‘s do bhéilín sámh
Siúd chugaibh Mary Chionnaith ‘s í ‘ndiaidh an Éirne’ shnámh

A mháithrín dhílis, dúirt Máire Bhán,
Fá bhruach an chladaigh ‘s fá bhéal na trá
Maighdean mhara mo mhaithrín ard,
Siúd chugaibh Mary Chionnaith ‘s í ‘ ndiaidh an Éirne’ shnámh

Tá mise tuirseach and beidh go lá
Mo Mháire bhruinneal ‘s mo Phádraig bán
Ar Bharr na dtonna ‘s fá bheal na trá
Siúd chugaibh Mary Chionnaith ‘s í ‘ ndiaidh an Éirne’ shnámh