Móirín Uí Chealla

Móirín Uí Chealla

Véarsa 1 Verse 1
Is móra duit a Mhóirín Uí Chealla Hail to you, Móirín Uí Chealla,
Ó sheolais do chapall chun drúcht. Since you released your horse into the dew,
Ó sheolais, ní cóir duit mo mhealladh Since you did, you should not try to entice me
Le claon ná le mailís do shúl. With a deceitful glance or with malice in your eyes.
Curfá: Chorus:
Rí rá, rí rá gach maidin, Rí rá, Rí rá every morning,
Rí rá gach maidin san mbliain. Rí rá every morning of the year,
Rí rá, rí rá gach maidin, Rí rá, rí rá every morning
Is go ngeabhamna le buachaill ón sliabh. And I will go with a boy from the mountain.
Véarsa 2 Verse 2
Is do bhíos-sa lá ar aonach i gCaiseal, I was at the fair of Cashel one day,
Is do bhíos-sa lá ar aonach i dTuaim. And one day I was at the fair of Tuam.
Cé a chífinn ag píobaire ón nGaillimh Who should I see with a piper from Galway
Ach Móirín Uí Chealla, mo shiúr. But my kinswoman, Móirín Uí Chealla.
Véarsa 3 Verse 3
Is móra duit a mháthair mo chéile And hail to you o mother-in-law,
Ná feaca ar an aonach riamh fós. Whom I have never before seen at the fair.
Siúd ort is ólam araon deoch Here’s health to you and let us both have a drink
Is go mbeimid go léir go maith fós. And we will all be fine again.
Véarsa 4 Verse 4
Is fuath liom an gaige gan éifeacht I hate the useless fop
Do rachach ar an aonach gan ghnó, Who goes to the fair, though he has no business there
Is do mhaífeadh ar mháthair a chéile And who declares that he will drink all his mother-in-law has,
Go n-ólfach an léine da tóin! Even the shift covering her backside!


This lively song with its easy, repetitive chorus is great fun to sing. ‘Rí rá’ is a colloquial expression that means reckless merriment, confusion, a carouse and it seems to fit the bill here.

Móirín Uí Chealla and her horse are out and about early in the morning ‘ag siúl na drúchta.’ Walking in the dew in Irish song usually means someone has been out all night – or is of no fixed abode. She has also been seen with a piper from Galway – and travelling pipers, like travelling tailors, had a rather rakish reputation.

Verses 3 and 4 seem to form a dialogue between a man and his mother-in-law. Despite his blandishments, it is clear that she doesn’t think much of him – especially his stated intention to drink her out of all she owns, leaving her not even a shift to wear.

There is no indication in the text as to where the song came from apart from the forms of the verbs which are in west Munster dialect. The places mentioned in the song are Galway, Cashel, Co. Tipperary and Tuam, Co. Galway.

A charter in the year 1228 gave Cashel the right to hold an ‘annual fair … for eight days, namely, on the vigil and feast of the Holy Trinity and the six days following.’ The date of the feast of the Holy Trinity always falls either in May or in June, depending on the date of Easter.

In 1252 a charter was granted by Henry III of England allowing a fair at Tuam on December 28th and the seven days following. Subsequently, charters were granted by James I in 1614 and George III in 1776 which authorised the holding of additional fairs on May 28th, October 20th and December 15th. This number was further increased in 1851 by the establishment by the Town Commissioners of 3 more fairs but it is likely that the song pre-dates the mid-19th century.