Banks of the Roe, The
DESCRIPTION: "Too long have I travelled the land of the stranger...." The singer wishes to return to "the land of O'Cahan," whom he recalls with pride. But those free men are long dead; he is left, and in exile, but "How I long to return to the banks of the Roe"
EARLIEST DATE: 1924 (Sam Henry collection)
KEYWORDS: emigration exile homesickness
1385 - Death of "Cooey-na-Gal" O'Cahan
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (1 citation):
SHenry H24b, pp. 217-218, "The Banks of the Roe" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. "Scarborough Settler's Lament" (theme) and references there
cf. "The Benady Glen" (for Cooey-na-Gal)
cf. "Gelvin Burn" (for Cooey-na-Gal)
cf. "The River Roe (II)" (for Cooey-na-Gal)
cf. "Slieve Gallen Brae" (for Cooey-na-Gal)
NOTES: The monastery of Dungiven (in Ulster) is believed to have been established in the eleventh century, well before the English invaded Ireland. Many leaders of the O'Cahans were buried in what became Dungiven Priory.
The most famous of these O'Cahans was "Cooey-na-Gal" ("Terror of the Stranger"). Legend has it that "Cooey-na-Gal" was buried in a fine tomb in Dungiven, covered by an excellent carving of a warrior with a sword, surrounded by small figures of kilted soldiers. The work is regarded as one of the finest tomb sculptures in Ireland.
Unfortunately, the tomb is almost certainly not that of Cooey-na-Gal O'Cahan, because it is firmly dated to the fifteenth century. The best bet is that the man buried there is Aibhne O'Cahan, murdered in 1492.
Cooey-na-Gal has managed to get his name into a number of songs, mostly in the Henry collection and mostly obscure; see the cross-references. But there is also "The Benady Glen," recorded by Déanta. That song is listed as by Manus O'Kane, and another Cooey song ("Slieve Gallen Brae") is listed as by James O'Kane. Coincidence? - RBW
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