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's Mairg 's an Tir

Sad the Land

Lyrics & Music: Scottish traditional (North Uist), from _Beyond the Farthest Hebrides_
Translation: adapted by Maureen O'Brien from the copy-permitted version in _Beyond the Farthest Hebrides_ (an excellent book!). The MIDI is sequenced by me, so it doesn't sound too great. Sorry.

This song, it's said, was heard one night by men who'd been sealing on Heisgeir, as they ate their supper of seal. It is a woman's lament; but the woman is a seal or selkie (were-seal).

Sealmeat was an important part of people's diet on the Hebrides, but some families refused to eat it, because they believed they had kin in the seal clans.

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Ho i ho i hi o ho i
Ho i hi o ho i i
Ho i ho i hi o ho i
Cha robh mim aonar an raoir.

S mairg s an tir so, s mairg s an tir,
G ithe dhaoine n riochd a bhidh;
Nach fhaic sibh ceannard an t-sluaigh
Goil air teine gu cruaidh cruinn.

S mise nighean Aoidh mhic Eoghain,
Gum beolach mi mu na sgeirean;
Gur mairg a dheanadh mo bhualadh,
Bean uasal mi o thir eile.

Thig an smeorach, thig an druid,
Thig gach eun a dh ionnsaigh nid,
Thig am bradan thar achuain;
Gu la Luain cha ghluaisear mis.

Ho i ho i hi o ho i
Ho i hi o ho i i
Ho i ho i hi o ho i
I was not alone last night.

Sad the land is, sad the land,
Eating people for its food.
See how the chief of all our men
Boils on a hot round fire.

I am Hugh mac Ewens daughter,
And I know the skerries well.
And woe to him who would strike me,
A lady from a far country.

Comes the mavis, comes the thrush,
Come each bird that seeks its nest,
Comes the salmon over the sea,
Till the day comes, I will not move.

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