Sunday, July 30, 2023

Sinead O'Connor - Oro Se do Bheatha Bhaile, an Irish Rebel Song

Thanks to my long time friend Dermot McEvoy for sharing with me and many more of the old Lion's Head crew this clip of Sinead O'Connor singing Óró Sé do Beatha ‘Bhaile. Dermot noted that the song was written by Padraig Pearse. one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. In a post in 2012 I gave a link to Sinead singing "The Foggy Dew," a song about the 1916 Rising, In the post, I told how Pearse, and thirteen other of the leaders of the Rising, were executed by firing squad in the courtyard of Kilmainham Gaol.

Looking for an English trnslation of Óró Sé do Beatha ‘Bhaile, I found there are two versions. of which Pearse's is the second. Pearse's version, written just before the Easter Rising, imagines an Irish army, led by the "pirate queen" Grace O'Malley (also known as "Grainne," 1530-1603), coming to free Ireland from British rule. The earlier Jacobite version evidently expresses a desire for "young Charles," grandson of the deposed Stuart (and Catholic) King James II, to come to Ireland "[w]ith French and Spanish volunteers" to overthrow British rule. Unfortunately for the Irish nationalists, Bonnie Prince Charlie's 1745-46 campaign ended in Scotland with his army's defeat at Culloden.

In my email to Dermot thanking him for the link to Sinead's version of Óró Sé do Beatha ‘Bhaile, I called it "poweful" and noted that it brought to my mind the concluding line of William Butler Yeats' "Easter, 1916": "A terrible beauty is born."

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