minstrel: Siu/il a Ru/in

Lisa and Ken Theriot lnktheriot at compuserve.com
Wed Mar 15 07:57:58 PST 2000

Vivien wrote:

Only Shule Aroon (also spelled Shule Arun, and also known as I Wish I Was 
on Yonder Hill) appears in the first source I checked, which is the one I 
recommend to anyone serious about Irish traditional music:  Sources of 
Irish Traditional Music c. 1600-1855 by Aloys Fleischmann.  This was one of 
the melodies borrowed by Thomas Moore in the 1820s.  William Cole states 
(in Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales):  This fine song of 
lamentation has been traced to the early eighteenth century.  The verses 
refer to a lover's enlistment in the "Wild Geese" of the Irish Brigade 
(1691-1740), who served with the French, hoping somehow through this 
eventually to drive the English out of Ireland.  The lyrics of the chorus 
seem to have come from an entirely different kind of song.

Vivien, is that last sentence from William Cole, or is that your 

Here's my take (based on nothing more scholarly than translating the chorus 
and thinking about it a bit).  The chorus translates to:

Go, go, go my love
Go gently and go quietly
Go to the door and creep out with me
Go, my darling, in safety

It's that third line, "go to the door and creep out with me".  I think that 
the Gaelic is the portion of the song directed to her lover (rather than 
the general moan and complain of the English bits), and I interpret the 
chorus as an exhortation to leave his comrades and go back home with her 
RATHER than taking ship for France.  Clearly, she fails, and the "mantra" 
of repeating the last Gaelic line in each verse (and how did THAT happened 
if the chorus is unrelated to the verses?) is a shift from "come home with 
me and be safe" to "God keep you safe where you are".

What do you think?  Of course all of this is lost in the American versions 
where the Gaelic is turned into nonsense syllables (shool-a-rack-shack, 
shool-a-ba-ba-coo).  Interesting that the song was so popular that it 
survived the loss of the mother tongue.


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