Isn’t it macaronic

The Irish family of one of the hostel owners was visiting at the same time I was, which meant lots of drinking beer on the patio while listening to the Pogues. The owner’s father sang a traditional Irish folk song called “Siúil A Rúin” and told me a little about the origin and it being a good example of a macaronic song.

Macaronic music refers to songs with bilingual lyrics. This was a popular form in Ireland, especially during the 19th century when much of Ireland was becoming linguistically anglicized. The shift from Gaelic to English and back again captures the sadness of a homeland stranded between two eras and coping with the tragedy of the Famine.

Siúil A Rúin

It’s about a young woman missing her lover who has gone off to the army. Here, I think, are the lyics (though it may not be exactly as sung in my poor-quality recording):

I wish I was on yonder hill
‘Tis there I’d sit and cry my fill
And every tear would turn a mill
Is go dté tú mo mhuirnín slán

Siúil, siúil, siúil a rúin
Siúil go socair agus siúil go ciúin
Siúil go doras agus éalaigh liom
Is go dté tú mo mhúirnín slán

I’ll sell my rock, I’ll sell my reel
I’ll sell my only spinning wheel
To buy my love a sword of steel
Is go dté tú mo mhúirnín slán

I’ll dye my petticoats, I’ll dye them red
And round the world I’ll beg my bread
Until my parents shall wish me dead
Is go dté tú mo mhúirnín slán

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
I wish I had my heart again
And vainly think I’d not complain
Is go dté tú mo mhúirnín slán

But now my love has gone to France
to try his fortune to advance
If he e’er comes back ’tis but a chance
Is go dté tú mo mhúirnín slán


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