Mo Dhian Ghrá Dílis

My Own Dearest Love

Véarsa 1 Verse 1
Is a dhalta[1] is a mhaoinigh tar taoibh liom oíche éigin O my sweetheart and my treasure, come lie by my side some night
Is nuair a luífidh ár muintir beam ag caint lena chéile. And while our parents are asleep we will be talking to each other.
Do lámh dheas faoi mo cheannsa ‘s mé ag deimhniú gach scéal duit, Your right hand [will be] beneath my head and I [will be] proving to you the truth of my words,
Is gurb é do dhian ghrá [a] mheill[2] mé is bhain radharc aingil Dé díom. And it was your fond love that ruined me and deprived me of the sight of God’s angels.
Véarsa 2 Verse 2
Dá mbeadh fhios ag mo dheartháir mo dhíomá is mo bhuaireamh If my brother knew of my misfortune and anguish.
Dá mbeadh fhios dair Pára[  ][3], bheadh gearán ró-mhór air. If he knew, by Heaven, he would have much cause for complaint.
Mo dhianghrá dom thréigean is céile dá lua léi, My own love abandoning me and a match being planned for her,
A ghrianán ban Éireann! ‘Sé mo léan gan sinn in uaigneas.


O most beloved of all the women in Ireland, it is my sorrow that we are not together in some lonely place.


While we have only two verses of this beautiful song, it is clear that it belongs to that type of song called amhrán grá an fhir, the love song of a man. Such songs represent a large proportion of the songs in the 1857 Song MS. This is understandable as Goodman was, himself, a singer and collected songs which he would enjoy singing. Amhráin grá an fhir are also probably the commonest type of song found in the Irish song tradition.

The reference to the speaker being ‘deprived of the sight of God’s angels’ is a remnant of the Amour Courtois influence on Irish song. As well as depicting love as an illness which the lover cannot escape, it is also common to say that he has lost or will lose his hope of salvation as his obsession with his beloved distracts him from his prayers or makes him inattentive at Mass. We find examples of this trope in songs such as Máirín de Barra.

Although likely to have originally been a longer song, I feel that the two verses Goodman managed to preserve make a cohesive whole. Again, he recognised ‘pieces of gold’ and saved them.

I have not found this song in any other printed or manuscript source.

[1] ‘dalta’ in contemporary use means ‘pupil;’ in earlier times it usually meant ‘a nursling.’ It was also used as a term of endearment and I have translated it here as ‘sweetheart.’

[2] I have preserved Goodman’s spelling rather than using the contemporary ‘mhill.’

[3] The MS is unclear at this point. ‘Párathas’= Heaven, Paradise seems to fit.