Two English versions follow. We're not sure which one Chris was most familiar with.
Oh dark is the evening and silent the hour
Oh who is that minstrel by yon shady tower
Whose harp is so tenderly touching with skill
Oh who could it be but young Ned of the Hill
And he sings, "Lady love, will you come with me now
Come and live merrily under the bough
I'll pillow your head where the light fairies tread
If you will but wed with young ned of the Hill"
Young Ned of the Hill has no castle or hall
No bowmen or spearmen to come at his call
But one little archer of exquisite skill
Has loosed a bright shaft for young Ned of the Hill
It is hard to escape to this young lady's bower
For high is the castle and guarded the tower
But where there's a will there's always a way
And young Eileen is gone with young ned of the Hill
EDMUND OF THE HILL (Ned of the Hill)
"Oh who is without
That with passionate shout
Keeps beating my bolted door?"
"I am Ned of the Hill
Forspent wet and chill
>From long trudging marsh and moor"
"My love, fond and true
What else could I do
But shield you from wind and from weather?
When the shots fall like hail
They us both shall assail
And mayhap we shall die together."
"Through forest and through snow
Tired and hunted I go
In fear both from friend and from neighbor
My horses run wild
My acres untilled
And they all of them lost to my labor
But it grieves me far more
Than the loss of my store
That there's none who would shield me from danger
So my fate it must be
To fare eastward o'er sea
And languish amid the stranger"
Eamonn a' Chnuic
"Ce-h-é sin amuigh
Go bhfuil faor ar a ghuth
A' reaba mo dhorais dúnta?"
"Mise Eamonn a' Chnuic
Tá báidhte fuar fluich
O shior-shúil sléibhte is gleannta"
"A lao ghil's a chuid
Cad do dhéannfainnse duit
Mara gcuirfinn ort béinn dom ghúna?
'S go mbeidh púdar dubh
Is go mbeimis araon muchta"
"Is fada mise amuigh
Faoi sneachta is faoi shioc
Is gan dánacht agam ar éinne
Mo bhranar gan cur
Mo sheisreach gar sgur
Is gan iad agam ar aon chor
Nil cairde agam
(Is danaid liom san)
Do ghlacfadh mé moch na déanach
Is go gcaithear mé dul
Thar farraige soir
O's ann na fúil mo ghaolta"
Edmund Ryan of the Hill was an Irish earl displaced by Cromwell after the Battle of the Boyne who stayed in Ireland to fight the British. Here he sheltered with his old girlfriend. Later a neighbor killed him while giving him "shelter" for the reward money, only to find that the reward had just been withdrawn after Edmund had done an Englishman a service.
The original Ned was Eamonn O Riain (Edmund or Edward Ryan) from County Tipperary (1670-1724). He became an outlaw after shooting a tax collector dead during a quarrel over the confiscation of a poor woman's cow. He was murdered for "blood money", £200. He was a poet and wrote these lines:
I am long outside in snow and
frost, never daring to approach my home, my horse team still tied, my
fallow field unsown, I no longer have them all, nor friends alas to
harbour me, I have no kindred and must go over the sea.
Printed in Donal O'Sullivan's Songs of the Irish. Other version recorded by Jean Redpath. Also sung by Bridget Fitzgerald
Langan slow airs | Move Your Fingers
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