Bánchnoic Éireann Ó

Words & Music: Fitzgerald / MacConmara, mid 18th Century
Harmonies: Skarra Brae, Lizzie O’Brien, Tom Bridges

The painful longing of an exile is the subject of this moving piece in Irish Gaelic. It seems to have been written by a certain Major Fitzgerald serving in the French army during the late 1740s.  It was revised and expanded by Donnchadh MacConmara (1715 – 1810), an Irish poet who spent many years in Newfoundland where he could well lament the lost beauty of the ‘fair hills of Erin’. He returned home towards the end of his long life. (MacConmara was very possibly a relative of the poet Francis Macnamara who wrote Moreton Bay.)

Lyrics

Beir beannacht ó m’ chroi go tír na h-Éireann,
Bánchnoic Éireann Ó.
Chun a maireann de shíolra Ír agus Éibhir
Ar bhánchnoic Éireann Ó.
An áit úd inarbh aoibhinn binnghuth éan,
Mar shámhchruit chaoin ag caoineadh Gael.
Is é mo chás a bheith míle míle i gcéin
Ó bhánchnoic Éireann Ó.

Bíonn barra bog slím ar chaoinchnoic Éireann.
Bánchnoic Éireann Ó.
‘S is fearra na na tír seo díoga gach sléibhe ann,
Bánchnoic Éireann Ó.
Is ard a coillte ‘s is direach réidh,
‘S an blath mar aoil ar mhaoilinn ghéag.
Tá grá i mo chroí ‘s i m’ intinn féin
Do bhánchnoic Éireann Ó.

Ní fheicim a gcóraid ag gabháil sa taobh seo
Ar bhánchnoic Éireann Ó
Is ní fheicim a mbólacht á dtreorú chun féir ann
Ar bhánchnoic Éireann Ó
Ach bárca dá seoladh le forneart gaoth
Agus farraigí móra go deo lena dtaobh
Go bhfágathar fós mé i m’chóige féin
Ar bhánchnoic Éireann Ó

Translation

Bear a blessing from my heart to the land of Erin, oh the fair hills of Erin!
To those of the seed of Ir and Eibhir who still live on the fair hills of Erin.
In that place is the delightful sweet-voiced bird, like a pleasant and gentle harp lamenting a Gael. It is my fate to be a thousand miles away from the fair hills of Erin.

Soft and smooth are the summits of Erin’s gentle hills, oh the fair hills of Erin, and better than this land is every mountain slope there in the fair hills of Erin!
Her forests are high, they are level and straight, and the blossoms like whitewash on the rounded canopies. Oh, there is such love in my heart and mind for the fair hills of Erin!

I don’t see their herds going along this way on the fair hills of Erin. And I don’t see their cattle being guided to graze there, but ships being driven by violent winds with high seas forever at their sides. May I be left in my own province yet on the fair hills of Erin.

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