Thank You for Hearing Me: The Definitive Sinéad O'Connor Discography

“Roísín Dubh”

by Iarla Ó Lionáird

Traditional, arranged by Iarla Ó Lionáird

1 version


I Could Read the Sky soundtrack album


(Source: Irish Page: Róisín Dubh)

A Róisín ná bíodh brón or fár éirigh dhuit--
Little Rose, be not sad for all that hath behapped thee:
Tá na bráithre ag dul ar sáile is iad ag triall ar muir,
The friars are coming across the sea, they march o the main.
Tiocfaigh do phardún óa bPápa is ón Róimh anoir
From the Pope shall come thy pardon, and from Rome, from the East-
Is ní spáráilfear fíon Spáinneach ar mo Róisín Dubh.
And stint not Spanish wine to my Little Dark Rose.
Is fada an réim a lig mé lé ó inné do dtí inniu,
Long the journey that I made with her from yesterday till today,
Trasna sléibhte go ndeachas léi is mo sheólta ar muir;
Over mountains did I go with her, under the sails upon the sea,
An Éirne scoithe sí léim í cé gur mór a sruth;
The Erne I passed by leaping, though wide the flood,
is mar cheóil téad ar gach taobh di a bhíonn mo Róisín Dubh.
And there was string music on each side of me and my Little Dark Rose!
Mhearaigh túfain a bhradóg, is nár ba fearrde dhuit,
Thou hast slain me, O my bride, and may it serve thee no whit,
'S go bhfuil m'anam istigh i ngean ort is ní inné ná inniu.
For the soul within me loveth thee, not since yesterday nor today,
D'fhátúfain anbhann mé ngnés i gcruth;
Thou has left me weak and broken in mien and in shape,
ná feall orm is mé gnean ort, a Róisín Dubh.
Betray me not who love thee, my Little Dark Rose!
Shiúfainn féin an drúcht leat is fásaigh goirt
I would walk the dew with thee and the meadowy wastes,
Mar shúil go bhfaighinn rún nó páirt ded thoil;
In hope of getting love from thee, or part of my will,
A chraoibhín chumhra, gheallais damhsa go raibh grá gat dom,
Fragrant branch, thou didst promise me that thou hadst for me love-
Is gurb ílúfainth na Mumhan íí Róisín Dubh.
And sure the flower of all Munster is Little Dark Rose!
Dá mbeadh seisreach agam threabhfainn in aghaidh na gcnoc
Had I a yoke of horses I would plough against the hills,
Is dhéanfainn soiscéal i lár an Aifrinn do mo Róisín Dubh;
In middle-Mass I'd make a gospel of my Little Dark Rose,
bhéarainn póg chailín bhéarfadh a hóighe dhom
I'd give a kiss to the young girl that would give her mouth to me,
is dhéanfainn cleas an leasa le mo Róisín Dubh.
And behind the liss would lie embracing my Little Dark Rose!
Beidh an Éirne 'na tuilte tréana is réabfar cnoic,
The Erne shall rise in rude torrents, hills shall be rent,
Beidh an fharraige 'na tonnta dearga is an spéir 'na fuil,
The sea shall roll in red waves, and blood be poured out,
Beidh gach gleann sléibhe ar fud éireann is móinte ar crith,
Every mountain glen in Ireland, and the bogs shall quake
Lá éigin sula n-éagfaidh mo Róisín Dubh.
Some day ere shall perish my Little Dark Rose!


Written in the 16th century, this is one of the best-known aisling songs. "Aisling" is the Irish word for "vision" or "dream," and refers to a poetic genre in which Ireland is metaphorically represented as a woman. The genre originated in the 17th and 18th centuries, when Ireland was under English control and songs about Ireland were forbidden by the English authorities.

(Source: Wikipedia)

It's certainly no coincidence that Sinéad named her daughter, born on March 10th, 1996, Brigidine Róisín Waters.


(In English, "River Erne.") A river in northwest Ireland flowing southeast to northwest and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean at Ballyshannon. (Courtesy of

(Source: Wikipedia)


The southwest province of Ireland, comprising Counties Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, and Waterford. Its largest city is Cork.

(Source: Wikipedia)


I cannot find an appropriate definition of this word in either Irish or English. It seems to means a hill or tree. Pearse's English translation may simply be a transliteration of the Irish "leasa," with the added benefit that it rhymes with "kiss" in the same position in the previous line.


(Source: Iarla Ó Lionáird)

...the book [I Can Read the Sky] was written a few years ago by an Irish American called Tim O'Grady, from Chicago. During the last 20 years, he'd been hanging out with Martin Hayes, the fiddle player on the album, and Dennis Cahill, his buddy who plays guitar. Before they made the movie, I knew the photographer, Steve Pyke, who made the book with Tim -- he shot my first album. So they started doing these spectacular presentations and invited me along. They did one at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London, and that's where I first met Sinéad O'Connor. And that's how she got on the Afro-Celt album. The last song on the album ["The Singing Bird"] is a live recording from that event.

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