Baile Locha Riach

The Town of Loughrea

Véarsa 1 Verse 1
B’fhearr liom ná mo chapall is dá n-abrainn a shrian I would prefer, more than my horse and I’d even say its bridle,
Is ná fáltas ná páirce dá leagtar ann an fia, And more than a property or a field in which the deer is killed
Is ná dtáinig de bhádaibh[1] don chaladh seo le bliain Or more than all the boats that came to this harbour in the last year
Ná tráchtann ar mhnáibh[2] deasa Bhaile Locha Riaigh. Not to mention the nice women from the town of Loughrea.
Véarsa 2 Verse 2
B’fhearr liomsa ná an baile seo is ná Baile Locha Riach I would like, even more than this town and more than Loughrea town
Is ná an baile beag dá mbínnse is ná Bail’ Átha Cliath na gCliar[3] And more than the little village in which I used to live and more than Dublin of the clergy,
Gur di siúd féin do bhéarfainn a leath agus a dtrian To give to her even half or a third [of them]
Mar shúil is gur liom tú lá fada agus bliain. In hope that you are mine, for a year and a day.
Véarsa 3 Verse 3
Tá smúit ar mo shúile is ní chodlaím néal My eyes are clouded and I can’t sleep a wink
Ach a’ tnúth leatsa [a] rúinig ó mhaidin inné. Because I’m longing for you, my darling, since yesterday morning.
Do shiúlfainn féin an Mumhan leat is a’ domhan uile go léir I would walk all of Munster with you and the wide world over
Mar shúil is ná tabharfá do leabhar i mbréig. In hope that you would never swear falsely [to me].
Véarsa 4 Verse 4
Chuireas litir síos go Connacht drig[4] mo spéirbhean shuairc I sent a letter to Connacht to my beautiful, joyful girl
Agus drig Wellington[5] cé fada atá sé uaim. Another letter to Wellington, though he is a long way from me.
An t-ionad cuinge úd do dheineamar age Corain[6] Leasa Mhóir That solemn vow we made at the cairn of Lios Mór
Gur b’í an Sionainn glan do choinimh mé bhí lán go buaic. It was the River Shannon which was full to overflowing that kept me [from you].
Véarsa 5 Verse 5
Is dóigh liom a stórach go bhfuileann tú trom I think, my love, that you are heavy-hearted
Is gur ró-olc an snuachar[7] do dheinis do thogha, And that you made a very bad choice of husband,
Stróinse de chrón-bhodach, chortaithe, chrom A swarthy, good-for-nothing, worn out vagrant
Nach eol dó súd reómhair[8] ná iomaire [a] threabhadh. Who has no idea how to till the land or to plough a ridge.


Another example of amhrán an fhir but in this song the lovers are separated by distance rather than by money or disapproving parents. The mention of a husband comes only in the final verse. The reference to Wellington seems to place this song in the early years of the 19th century. Catholics were allowed to join the British army only after the Catholic Relief Act of 1778 but it is believed that Irishmen made up 40% of Wellington’s army during the Peninsular War (1807-1814) and 30% of his troops at Waterloo (1815). In his book A Bloody Day – The Irish at Waterloo (2015) Lieutenant Colonel Dan Harvey estimates that 8,500 of Wellington’s 28,000 men were Irish.

[1] Bádaibh – dative plural of ‘bád.’

[2] Mnáibh – dative plural of ‘mná.’

[3] ‘Cliar’ usually means ‘clergy’ but can also refer to bards

[4] ‘drig’ here and in the next line means ‘go dtí’ = to

[5] Wellington gives us a rough time frame for this song.

[6] ‘Carn,’ a cairn or heap of stones is often anglicised ‘Corrin.’ This placename may well be ‘carn Leasa Mhóir,’ ‘the cairn of Lios Mór.’ It could also be a corruption of ‘corrán,’ lit. a crescent shape but meaning an indented mountain. In Munster, there are places called Lios Mór in counties Kerry, Tipperary and Waterford.

[7] So-nuachar

[8] I have kept the slender ‘reómhair’ as a feature of the dialect and for the sake of the metre rather than using the standard ‘rómhar.’