Woman of Three Cows, The
DESCRIPTION: The singer is poor. He tells the "Woman of Three Cows" that she is too proud and scornful of those less wealthy than herself. He recounts the Irish heroes who have met misfortune or death. She cannot measure up to them.
AUTHOR: English version by James Clarence Mangan (1803-1849)
EARLIEST DATE: 1845 (Duffy)
KEYWORDS: pride vanity nonballad animal poverty
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (8 citations):
OLochlainn-More 64, "The Woman of Three Cows" (1 text, 1 tune)
O'Conor, p. 120, "The Woman of Three Cows" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Charles Gavan Duffy, editor, The Ballad Poetry of Ireland (1845), pp. 56-59, "The Woman of Three Cows"
Edward Hayes, The Ballads of Ireland (Boston, 1859), Vol II, pp. 277-278, "The Woman of Three Cows"
Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), pp. 163-164, "The Woman of Three Cows" (1 text)
H. Halliday Sparling, Irish Minstrelsy (London, 1888), pp. 460-462, 504, "The Woman of Three Cows"
Donagh MacDonagh and Lennox Robinson, _The Oxford Book of Irish Verse_ (Oxford, 1958, 1979), pp. 51-53, "The Woman of Three Cows" (1 text)
Thomas Kinsella, _The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse_ (Oxford, 1989), pp. 273-275, "The Woman of Three Cows" (1 text)
NOTES: OLochlainn-More: "In this translation [James Clarence] Mangan [1803-1849] has bettered the original anonymous Gaelic verses 'Go reidh, a bhean na dtri mbo.'"
Duffy and Sparling quote Mangan: "This ballad, which is of a homely cast, was intended as a rebuke to the saucy pride of a woman in humble life, who assumed airs of consequence from being the possessor of three cows. Its author's name is unknown, but its age can be determined, from the language, as belonging in the early part of the seventeenth century. That it was formerly very popular in Munster, may be concluded from the fact that the phrase, Easy, oh, woman of the three cows! has become a saying in that province, on any occasion upon which it is desirable to lower the pretensions of a boastful or consequential person." - BS
The Gaelic original is said to be in Middle Irish, so it is fairly old. It will be seen that the translation is quite popular -- one of the most popular translated poems I've seen. - RBW
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