Lyrics: Trad.\Maureen S. O'Brien
Music: "Mairghread na Roiste", Irish Trad. found in Joyce.
Insp: Joyce tells the story of Margaret Roche, falsely accused, her brother who tried to save her from the stake and wrote the song, and one verse and its translation into English. (He also scorns Bunting for thinking this was a "Roisin Dubh" tune. But I digress.) I filled in the outline; but I would still like to learn the real song.
A Mairghread, a Mairghread, a Mairghread my sister,
Woman of white hands and bright golden hair!
There were twenty-one souls who attended your wedding,
And not a soul of them who came to your burning.
The man that you married, he beat you. You cried.
He called you a whore, and you gave him the lie;
But you were so angry, that you struck him a blow
And with only your white hand, you laid the man low.
His brother was judge, and he said you must die
And for killing your husband, you'd be burned alive.
So when I had heard this, I rode to Dublin
And I begged the chief magistrate, "Please let me in."
He gave me your pardon, for the judge was too cruel;
And back to you, sister, I rode like a fool.
But when my horse stumbled in at the hall gate,
They said, "You have come just an hour too late."
Bright hair is white ashes, white hands blackened bones
And when you were dying, you'd none of your own.
They can punish the judge, but they can't right your wrong;
And I hope I will join you before very long. (repeat 1st verse)
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