Amhran do dh’Aonghas ‘Ic ‘Ailein – en

Na h-Eileanan Siar

14 June 2016

Composed by: Dòmhnall Mac a’ Ghobhainn (Donald Smith)
Researched and performed by: Ceitlin LR Nic a’ Ghobhainn (Ceitlin LR Smith)

I first got this song from Kenna Campbell and when I was researching songs from Ness Mary Smith also suggested this one. Donald Smith who wrote the song is one of my ancestors.


Sadly I lament for my brother
Who has gone far away from his people and his kin
To the wild forests where the beasts of the wilderness roam,
Where no one asks after you and no Sabbath is observed.

Sixty-three years, that’s about the age you were,
Some people do not live much longer;
When you left your kinsfolk, what a foolish thing for someone like you
To go felling trees, och, which will wear out the old man.

Your head had gone grey, your locks silvered;
It was a senseless idea to go seeking your fortune
Where you won’t find familiar faces who would happily chat
Or ask how you are, or give you food for free.

How different if you had stayed in the Dells cultivating the level fields,
Where there was bread to eat and peat to warm you,
Instead of leaving the land where your forebears made a living,
Where no bear would steal your sheep amidst the heathery moor.

You were a good shepherd, good at climbing the summits,
And just as handy lifting sheaves in the field at harvest time;
That is why I am sad when I go up to the mill,
And I see the deserted ruins where you used to live.

When you’d come to the village I’d know the swing of your arm,
When you’d speak to me you were strong in your thinking;
That’s why I’m feeling low, which no one else can understand,
When there’s no word from Allan or Donald whether you are alive or dead.

What a tale you will have to tell, if you are still alive
About the church you left with only the clothes on your back
Where you heard words from a mouth that wouldn’t distort the truth,
And today you are amongst wild tribes who learned no Godliness from their forebears.

It is not your handsomeness or your beauty that I lament
But that I shall never see you again on the Sabbath or weekday:
We are as far from each other as the universe is wide,
And nothing has been written or read, och, to bring us any news of each other.

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