Searc mo Chléibh

These are all love songs of one kind or another which might be heard in the West Kerry gaeltacht of Corca Dhuibhne. Some, such as "An Clár Bog Déil", are not from the region but nevertheless form part of the local repertoire. Others, such as "Amhrán an tSagairt" and "Tá Smúit ar mo Chroí", while not very often heard nowadays, are most likely to have been composed by local singers. Still others, such as "Nach Cloíte an Galar an Grá" and "Réidhchnoc Mná Duibhe", are likely to be local adaptations of songs sung in other parts of the country.

Most of the songs are songs of yearning, loss and unfulfilled passion. The one notable exception is the wonderfully tongue-in-cheek "Amhrán an tSagairt", in which the young priest jauntily abandons family, friends and church for a life with his beloved.

I have tried to convey the flavour of the songs for non-Irish speakers with rough translations of key phrases. While I gratefully acknowledge the singers from whom I have learnt these songs, they are not in any way responsible for the words printed here, which are often a mixture of versions and may be liable to the some distortion due to memory loss over time!

It is with great trepidation that I have added some music to five of these songs. It is not traditional to so so, nor do the songs need it. But neither would it have happened traditionally that one singer would sing ten songs in a row, without an interval of music, dancing or other voices to break the intensity and provide variety! With the exception of the two rythmic songs, which are like dance tunes, the music was added afterwards and in a minimal way.

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(Searc mo Chléibh and Solas na Soilse)