O’Rourkes Feast 1580’s

 

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Music  Score : O’Rourke’s Noble Feast 

The poem is based on the Christmas festivities held in the Great Hall of the castle as Dromahaire, County Leitrim, by the Irish chieftain Brian na Murtha O Ruairc, Prince of Breffni 1580’s. These festivities are referred to in the Calendar of State Papers, Ireland, of April 6th, 1589 .

The music for this bacchanalian song (whose title also can be translated as “O’Rourke’s Revel Rout”) was composed by blind harper Turlough O’Carolan[1] with lyrics by his friend Aodh Mac Gabhrain (MacGauran) of Leitrim.

O’Sullivan (1958) finds the earliest printing of the tune in John and William Neale’s Collection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes (Dublin c. 1726, p. 6) with the title “Plea Rarkeh na Rourkough or Ye Irish Weding” ‘improved’ with a bass and chorus by an Italian music master named Sigr. Lorenzo Bocchi, who probably resided in Dublin in Carolan’s time.

The song “The O’Rourkes Feast” is the only known case in which Carolan composed the air for words of another poet. Walker (Historical Memoirs of the Irish Bards, Dublin, 1786) states that the writer of the words to the song was an old friend of Carolan named Hugh MacGauran, “a gentleman of the county of Leitrim, who had a happy poetical talent, and excelled particularly in the ludicrous species of poetry.”

See Dublin Magazine [2], July, 1842, pp. 59-61 for notes.

The poem is based on the Christmas festivities held in the Great Hall of the castle as Dromahaire, County Leitrim, by the Irish chieftain Brian na Murtha O Ruairc, Prince of Breffni, and the ancestor of several of Carolan’s friends, according to O’Sullivan. These festivities are referred to in the Calendar of State Papers, Ireland, of April 6th, 1589:

“How naughtily O’Rourke hath always carried himself…He caused a picture of Her Majesty [Queen Elizabeth I] to be drawn at a horse tail and kept his Christmas according the the Pope’s computation’ (i.e. the Gregorian Calendar).

O’Rourke certainly had no love for the English! O’Sullivan (using Bagwell’s Ireland Under the Tudors, vol. III 216-217 as a source) writes:

O’Rourke gave shelter and arms to many of the Spaniards stranded on the west coast after the wreck of the Armada (1588). He waged practically incessant warfare against the forces of Elizabeth, and in February, 1590-1 he crossed over to Scotland to seek aid from King James VI. But James delivered him to the English-it is said for money-and he was imprisoned in the Tower of London till the following November, when his trial took place in Westminster Hall. O’Rourke, whom Sidney described as the proudest man he had ever dealt with, understood no English and refused to recognize the court.He was indicted on a charge of treason for refusing to surrender the Spaniards, and he was told that the indictment was sufficient if he refused to plead. “If it must be so,” he said, “let it be so”, and he was accordingly condemned and hanged at Tyburn, with all the usual barbarities.

O’Carolan

One of O’Carolan’s earliest friends was Hugh MacGauran, a County Leitrim gentleman, who had a happy poetic talent, and excelled particularly in ludicrous species of poetry. He was the author of the justly celebrated song of Plearca na Ruarcach freely translated as “O’Rourke’s Feast,” which he prevailed on the bard to set to music.

The fame of the song having reached the ears of Dean Swift, he requested of MacGauran a literal translation of it in English. The Dean was so charmed with its beauties that he honored it with an excellent version of his own. MacGauran’s original composition in Irish appears to have been lost, but O’Carolan’s “Planxty O’Rourke” composed about 1721, has been preserved.

PLANXTY O’ROURKE (O’Rourke’s Noble Feast) , also known as “Planxty O’Rourke (2).” Irish, Air (6/8 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). http://redmp3.cc/3310328/ceoltoiri-chualann-plearaca-na-ruarcach.html

Pléaráca na Ruarcach

Pléaráca na Ruarcach I gcuimhne gach uile dhuine
Dá dtiocfaidh, dá dtáinic, ‘s dá maireann go fóill:
Seacht bhfichid muc, mart agus caora
Dhá gcasgairt don ghasraí gach aon ló.

Céad páil uisge bheatha ‘s na meadra dhá líona,
Ag éirghe ar maidin is againn bhí an spóirt.
Briseadh do phíopa-sa, sladadh mo phóca-sa,
Goideadh do bhríste-sa, loisgeadh mo chlóca-sa,

Chaill mé mo bhairéad, m’fhallaing is m’fhiléad,
Ó d’imigh na gairéad ar seacht mbeannacht leó!
Cuir spraic ar a’ gcláirsigh, seinn suas a’ pléaráca,
An bucsa sin, ‘Áine, ‘gus greadóg le n-ól!

Lucht leanamhna na Ruarcach a’ cratha a gcleití,
Tráth chuala siad tormán nó troimpléasg an cheóil;
D’éirigh gach aon aca gan coisreaca ‘n-a leabaidh,
Is a bhean leis ar strachailt in gach aon chórn.

Nár láidir an seasamh don talamh bhí fútha,
Gan réaba le sodar agus glug ins gach bróig!
Saol agus sláinte dhuit, ‘Mh’leachlainn Uí Fhionnagáin!
Dar mo láimh is maith a dhamhsuíos tú, ‘Mhársail Ní Ghriodagáin!

Here’s to you, ‘mháthair, I pledge you, God save you!
Beir ar a’ sgála so, sgag é in do sgóig.
Crath fúinn an tsráideóg, sín tharuinn an bhán-phluid,
Tugthar ar sáith dhúinn de lionn-choirm chóir!

A Árd-Rí na gcarad, cébi ‘tchífeadh an ghasraí
Ar líona a gcraicní nó ar lasa san ól!
Cnáimh righe bacaird ar fad in gach sgín aca,
A’ gearra ‘s a’ cosgairt go mór, mór, mór;

A slisneacha darach ar lasa a’ gabháil fríd a chéile,
A’ buala, a’ greada, a’ losga ‘s a’ dódh.
A bhodaigh, ‘sé m’athair-se chuir Mainistir na Búille suas,
Sligeach is Gaillimh is Caraidh Dhroma Rúisgthe fós.

Iarla Chill’ Dara agus Biadhtach Mhuí n-ealta,
Siad d’oil agus d’altruim mé, fiosraigh so de Mhór.
Tóig suas a’ t’ádhmad agus buail an t-alárm air,
Preab ionsa táirr agus cic ionsa tóin!

“Cé thóig a’ t-alárm so?” ar aon den Eaglais,
Ag éirghe ‘n-a sheasamh ‘s a’ bagairt go mór;
Ní h-é spairgeas uisge coisreactha ghlac sé sa gcíora
Ach bata maith darach, bog-lán dóirn!

Trh shíl sé na caithmhílidh a chasgairt ‘s a chíora,
Do fágadh an sagart ‘n-a mheall chasta fán mbórd.
D’éirigh na bráithre a’ tárrtháil na bruíne,
Is fágadh an t-Athair Gáirdian ar a thárr ‘n-áirde sa ngríosaí.

“Tráth bhínn-se ag an bPápa ar stuidéar na ngrásta,
‘S a’ glaca na ngrádhamh tháll ins a’ Róimh,
‘Sé an Seven Wise Masters bhí agad ar do tháirr,
Is tú a’ rósta na bprátaí láimh leis a’ tSídh Mhór!

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