The Story behind the song "Mo Ghile Mear", by Sean Clarach MacDonaill (1691-1754)
A Jacobite song originally composed by Seán Clárach Mac Dónaill (1691-1754), in which Eire laments her love, Bonnie Prince Charlie Stuart, then in exile. It has been called “one of the most powerful lamentations of the 17th century,” and while it is usually rendered by a male voice in a martial fashion, it is in fact a woman's lament for her love, a war hero, who was killed in battle. The verses have been reworked in the folk process and there is a modern chorus to the song. As "Air Bharr na G-Cnoc 's an Ime G-Céin” it appears in Edward Walsh’s Irish Popular Songs (Dublin, 1847).
In the folklore of Glencolumbkille there is a story that Bonnie Prince Charlie was secreted in Malinmore while ‘on the run’ after the defeat of his Highland Army at Culloden and that he later embarked in a French frigate from Poll-an-Uisce, near Glenlough.
The facts of history are otherwise (the Prince and his retinue sailed from Loch-nan-Uamy in the West of Scotland on 20th September 1746 and laying course to the West of Ireland arrived at Roscoff nine days later) but, nevertheless, the story must have some foundation and, in any event, highlights the Irish support for the Jacobite Cause. This remains The facts of history are otherwise (the Prince and his retinue in music and song, such as “Mo Ghile Mear” and, in Glencolumbkille, in a unique version of “The Bonnie Moor Hen”.
Across the expanse of Donegal Bay from Malinbeg, three frigates of the French Navy, flying British colours and commanded by Admiral Savary, arrived off Killala in August 1798. General Humbert and over one thousand troops disembarked at Kilcummin, joined the Irish Revolutionaries, established the Republic of Connaught and added a short but colourful page to Ireland’s military history.
Mo Ghile Mear
Seal da rabhas im' mhaighdean shéimh,
'S anois im' bhaintreach chaite thréith,
Mo chéile ag treabhadh na dtonn go tréan
De bharr na gcnoc is i n-imigcéin.
'Sé mo laoch, mo Ghile Mear,
'Sé mo Chaesar, Ghile Mear,
Suan ná séan ní bhfuaireas féin
Ó chuaigh i gcéin mo Ghile Mear.
For a while I was a gentle maiden
And now a spent worn-out widow
My spouse ploughing the waves strongly
Over the hills and far away.
He is my hero, my dashing darling
He is my Caesar, dashing darling.
I've had no rest from forebodings
Since he went far away my darling.