Oir a’ chuain / Air Sgeir an Ròin

Edge of the ocean / On Seal Skerry

Music: Emily Doolittle. Words: Rody Gorman
SA, flute, cello
performance time approx 4m 00s
Range S: c' – f'' / A: c' – f''
Complexity: ***

See a perusal copy of the music.
Hear a synthesized rendering
This piece is the last in the set Dàn nan ròn
The first piece is Dàn nan ròn
Air Sgeir an Ròin is sold only in the set Dàn nan ròn set, and is not available for sale as an individual piece.
The last song in the suite Dàn nan ròn is a beautiful soliloquy by someone out walking near the ocean and remembering his boyhood and youth. The sopranos sing the Gaelic text, in beautifully rising and falling melodic lines, while the rhythmic refrains of timeless Gaelic vocables are in two parts - sometimes singing the same words together, sometimes diverging. This song includes flute and cello obbligato, the cello playing an increasingly elaborate drone role, the flute echoing and playfully embellishing the melody.

Full audio pronunciation guide by Gaelic singer Wilma Kennedy included.


Bha mi ’n-dè leam fhìn sa mhonadh
Fo cheò ’s fo mhulad mo ghonadh

Shiubhail mi leam gu bonn a rubha
Far an robh na taighean dubha

Fo chleith mar an sgarta falaich
Mun deach na gaisgich nam balaich

’S gun agam ann ach an làrach
Anns an deach an to gail is àrach

Hill inn ò hò
Huill eo ro bha hò
Hill ir inn ì a hò a ò ro
Huill eo ro bha ho

Rinn mi suidhe leam air mo thòin
Air tulach faisg air Sgeir an Ròin

Nam aonar an oir a’ chuain
Gun soitheach nam ghaoith, fo smuain

Chunnaic mi lorg nan caorach
Na gillean thall san tràigh-mhaorach

Chunniac mi de bhàrr na creige
Eilean Chanaigh ’s Eilean Eige

Hill inn ò hò etc.

’S nas fhaide deas bhuam buileach
Thall air fàire ‘n t-Eilean Muileach

Leig mi m’anail mu phollmònach
A’ stealleadh, a’ sgur, dubh, brònach

Chrom mi ’s bhean mi ris an talamh,
Am bàrr fuar agus falamh

Mar uair ann às mo lèine
Taobh riut fhèin a’ gabhail na grèine

Hill inn ò hò etc.

Nach bu bhòidheach, nach bu bhuidhe
Smaoinich mi rium fhìn am shuidhe

’S dh’ èirich osna chiùin air sèideadh
Bhon an deas, m’anam ’s m’eideadh

Is bhuam thall air snàmh, dà eala
Nach b’iad na làithean geala!

Bha mi ’ndè leam fhìn sa mhonadh
Fo cheò ’s fo mhu lad mo ghonadh

Hill inn ò hò etc.

lyrics and translation © Rody Gorman 2011 and used with permission

Edge of the ocean / On Seal Skerry*

I was on the hill on my own yesterday
Foggy and sorry, hell mend it

I walked to the bottom of the headland
Where the black houses were

Hidden like in a hidey hole in a rock
Where our heroes used to go as boys

And there was the very place
Where I was reared and brought up

Hill inn ò hò
Huill eo ro bha hò
Hill ir inn ì a hò a ò ro
Huill eo ro bha hò

I sat down on my thòin [backside]
On a hillock near to Seal Skerry

On my own by the edge of the ocean
Without wind of a ship, thinking

I saw the sheep tracks
And the boys over by at the whelks

I saw from the cairn
The Isles of Canna and Eigg

Hill inn ò hò etc.

And much further to my south
Over on the horizon the Isle of Mull

I took a breather by a peatbog
Pishing, stopping, black, sad

I bent down and touched the ground,
The surface cold and empty

As I stripped to the waist once
Beside yourself sunbathing

Hill inn ò hò etc.

Wasn’t that beautiful
I thought to myself as I sat

And a sea breeze started blowing
From the south, my precious

And over there swimming, two swans –
Weren’t they the bright sunny days!

I was on the hill on my own yesterday
Foggy and sorry, hell mend it

Hill inn ò hò etc.

* skerry ~ small rocky island

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