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HOW TO SAY

How to say “Casadh an tSúgáin”, a famous song in Irish

Let’s learn a traditional Irish song called Casadh an tSúgáin which means “the twisting of the straw rope”. You may have heard of a súgán chair, its seat is made from straw rope. Straw rope has been used to do many things, such as tie things up around the farm and also to secure roofs.

about this song

This song has been recorded by numerous artists over the years including the Bothy Band in the 1970s, Joe Éinniú in the 1980s and more recently, by Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola. Iarla Ó Lionáird’s rendition in the 2015 film Brooklyn has brought the song to the big screen and perhaps that’s how you came to know this song.

Every rendition varies in many ways, both in lyrics and pronunciation, so I will solely focus on Iarla Ó Lionáird’s version for the sake of uniformity and consistency. Note that Ó Lionáird is from the Gaeltacht village of Cúil Aodha in Cork so he sings in the Munster dialect.

Lyrics

The syllables and words in the pronunciation aid which are in bold signify the syllables that I judged are stressed in Iarla Ó Lionáird’s rendition.

1
Do casadh cailín deas orm in uaigneas na dtrá,
Ar lúb na coille is glaise uair bheag roim lá:
‘Sé an fhreagr’ a thug sí liom go ciúin agus go tláth:
Tá an saol ‘na gcoladh, is bogaimis an súisín bán.

/Duh kos-oo coleen dass or-um in weg-eh-ness na draw,
Air loob na kwil-ye iss glish-eh oo-er vyug rem law:
Shay on rag-uh-ra ah hug she lyum guh kyoon a-guss guh t-law:
Taw on say-l ‘na gul-a, iss bug-a-meesh on soo-sheen bawn./

I met a nice girl in the loneliness of the beach,
at the loop of the greenest woods in the small hours before daybreak
That is the answer she gave to me so quietly and gently:
The world is asleep let us move the white coverlet

2
S má bhíonn tú liom bí liom, a stóirín mo chroí,
‘S má bhíonn tú liom bí liom os comhair a’ tí,
Má bhíonn tú liom, ‘s gur liom gach orlach de do chroí,
‘Sé mo mhíle chnoc nach liom Dé Domhnaigh tú mar mhnaoi.


/Smaw veen too lyum bee lyum, ah stoh-reen muh khree
Smaw veen too lyum bee lyum, oss koh-er ah chee
Maw veen too lyum sgur lyum gokh or-lukh je duh khree
Shay muh vee-la khnuk nawkh lyum Day Dow-nig too mor vnee./

And if you’re with me, be with me, oh treasure of my heart,
And if you’re with me, be with me in front of the house (for all the world to see)
And if you’re with me, and if every inch of your heart is mine
It is my thousand misfortunes (hills) that you won’t be my wife on Sunday

3
Ó do bhíosa sheal im’ bhuachaill éadrom mhear ghroí,
‘S do bhíosa sheal agus d’imreoinn cárt’ le mnaoi
Ó do bhíosa sheal agus d’imreoinn cúig léim nó thrí
Chun gur dhein an bhean so leongó liúngó dhom’ chroí.

/Oh duh vee-sa hal eem voo-khel ay-drum var ghree
Sduh vee-sa hal ah-guss dim-e-roh-in kawrt le mu-nee
Oh duh vee-sa hal ah-guss dim-e-roh-in koo-ig laym no hree
Khun gur yen on van suh lown-go loon-go ghum khree/

O I was once a boy, light-hearted and strong
And I was once that and I would play cards with a woman
And I was once that and I would play “five jumps” or three
Until this woman made my heart flutter.

4
‘S má bhíonn tú liom bí liom, a stóirín mo chroí,
‘S má bhíonn tú liom bí liom os comhair a’ tí,
Má bhíonn tú liom, ‘s gur liom gach orlach de do chroí,
‘Sé mo mhíle chnoc nach liom Dé Domhnaigh tú mar mhnaoi.

/Smaw veen too lyum bee lyum, ah stoh-reen muh khree
Smaw veen too lyum bee lyum, oss koh-er ah chee
Maw veen too lyum sgur lyum gokh or-lukh je duh khree
Shay muh vee-la khnuk nawkh lyum Day Dow-nig too mor vnee./

And if you’re with me, be with me, oh treasure of my heart,
And if you’re with me, be with me in front of the house (for all the world to see)
And if you’re with me, and if every inch of your heart is mine
It is my thousand misfortunes (hills) that you won’t be my wife on Sunday

5
‘S a Dhia na bhFeart, cad a chas san dúthaigh so mé?
Fé chlócaíbh dearga i bhfad óm’ cháirdibh Gael?
Ó do chuas isteach mar a raibh shearc agus dianghrá mo chléibh,
Chuir an t-seanbhean amach ag casadh an tsúgáinín mé.

/Sa Yee-a na Vart, kod a khoss san doo-hig suh may
Fay khloh-keev dar-ga ee vod ohm khawr-div Gayl?
Oh duh hoo-ass is-chokh mor a rev hark ah-guss deen-ghraw muh khlay-iv
Khwer on tan-a-van a-mokh egg a koss-a on too-gawn-een may./

And God Almighty, what drove me to this district?
Under red cloaks far from my Gaelic friends.
Oh I went into where my darling and the intense love of my bosom was,
And the old woman put me out twisting the little straw-rope.

6
‘S má bhíonn tú liom bí liom, a stóirín mo chroí,
‘S má bhíonn tú liom bí liom os comhair a’ tí,
Má bhíonn tú liom, ‘s gur liom gach orlach de do chroí,
‘Sé mo mhíle chnoc nach liom Dé Domhnaigh tú mar mhnaoi.
‘Sé mo mhíle chnoc nach liom Dé Domhnaigh tú mar mhnaoi.

/Smaw veen too lyum bee lyum, ah stoh-reen muh khree
Smaw veen too lyum bee lyum, oss koh-er ah chee
Maw veen too lyum sgur lyum gokh or-lukh je duh khree
Shay muh vee-la khnuk nawkh lyum Day Dow-nig too mor vnee
Shay muh vee-la khnuk nawkh lyum Day Dow-nig too mor vnee./

And if you’re with me, be with me, oh treasure of my heart,
And if you’re with me, be with me in front of the house (for all the world to see)
And if you’re with me, and if every inch of your heart is mine
It is my thousand misfortunes that you won’t be my wife on Sunday
It is my thousand misfortunes that you won’t be my wife on Sunday

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2 thoughts on “How to say “Casadh an tSúgáin”, a famous song in Irish”

  1. I enjoyed the video very much. It’s good to get both the translation and the background.
    Afterwards I went to youtube and found the video with Iarla Ó Lionáird performing the song.
    It’s a very beautiful one!

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