The Fair Hills of Eire O! – Early 17th century song

This song probably dates back to the early 17th century. It was written by Donagh (The Red) Mac Con-Mara.

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It was sung mournfully, but not too slow to the Uileacan Dubh O! air (just as Danny Boy is sung to The Londonderry Air).

Some people think that “Uileacan Dubh O!” symbollically means Ireland; others think it is an illustration of love.

It is recorded in the Poets and Poetry of Munster – a collection of songs from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Uileacan Dubh O! means a round shaped black-haired head and was used to describe Munster female (and sometimes male) peasants.

The Fair Hills of Eire O! Lyrics

“Would you only come with me to Leitrim county fair,
O, flower of all maidens young!
On sugar and brown ale I’d sweetly feast you there,
O, flower of all maidens young!
I’d shew you barks and ships you never saw before,
So stately and so gay, approaching to the shore,
And never should you sigh or sorrow any more,
O, flower of all maidens young!”
Take a blessing from my heart to the land of my birth,
And the fair Hills of Eire, O!
And to all that yet survive of Eibhear’s tribe on earth,
On the fair Hills of Eire, O!
In that land so delightful the wild thrush’s lay
Seems to pour a lament forth for Eire’s decay
Alas! alas! why pine I a thousand miles away
From the fair Hills of Eire!
The soil is rich and soft – the air is mild and bland,
Of the fair Hills of Eire, O!
Her barest rock is greener to me than this rude land –
O! the fair Hills of Eire O!
Her woods are tall and straight, grove rising over grove;
Trees flourish in her glens below, and on her heights above;
O, in heart and in soul, I shall ever, ever love
The fair Hills of Eire!
A noble tribe, moreover, are the now hapless Gael,
On the fair hills of Eire, O!
A tribe in Battle’s hour unused to shrink or fail
On the fair Hills of Eire O!
For this is my lament in bitterness outpoured,
To see them slain or scattered by the Saxon sword.
Oh, woe of woes, to see a foreign spoiler horde
On the fair Hills of Eire, O!
O’er her smooth grass for ever sweet cream and honey flow
On the fair Hills of Eire, O!
0, I long, I am pining, again to behold
The land that belongs to the brave Gael of old;
Far dearer to my heart than a gift of gems or gold
Are the fair Hills of Eire, O!
The dew-drops lie bright ‘mid the grass and yellow corn
On the fair Hills of Eire, O !
The sweet-scented apples blush, redly in the morn
On the fair Hills of Eire,O!
The water-cress and sorrel fill the vales below;
The streamlets are hushed, till the evening breezes blow;
While the waves of the Suir, noble river! ever flow
Near the fair Hills of Eire, O!
A fruitful clime is Eire’s, through valley, meadow, plain,
And the fair land of Eire, O!
The very ” Bread of Life” is in the yellow grain
On the fair Hills of Eire, O!
Far dearer unto me than the tones music yields,
Is the lowing of her kine and the calves in her fields
And the sunlight that shone long ago on the shields
Of the Gaels, on the fair Hills of Eire, O!

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