Donall Og (Young Donald)
DESCRIPTION: Gaelic or English: Singer tells her lover Donal to take her with him, that he'll be well taken care of. She reproaches him for breaking his promise; he says she has ignored him. She says that he is always in her mind, and has taken her past and her future
EARLIEST DATE: 1947 (Hoagland)
LONG DESCRIPTION: Gaelic or English: Singer tells her lover, Donall Og (young Donald) to take her with him on his travels, that he'll be well taken care of (and sleep with the Greek king's daughter). She reproaches him for breaking his promise; he replies that she has rejected and ignored him. She says that he is always in her mind, even in the church where she should be thinking of Christ's passion. She says he has taken her past and her future, and perhaps will even take away God himself
KEYWORDS: hardheartedness love request rejection farewell parting travel abandonment lover foreignlanguage
FOUND IN: Ireland Britain(Scotland)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Kennedy-FolksongsOfBritainAndIreland 31, "Donall Og [Young Donald]" (1 text in Irish Gaelic + translation, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), pp. 238-240, "Donall Oge: Grief of a Girl's Heart" (1 text, translated by Lady Gregory)
Donagh MacDonagh and Lennox Robinson, _The Oxford Book of Irish Verse_ (Oxford, 1958, 1979), pp. 106-108, "Donal Oge: Grief of a Girl's Heart" (1 text, translated by Lady Gregory)
NOTES [397 words]: A personal note: Kennedy-FolksongsOfBritainAndIreland calls this "one of the most intense love songs in the Irish language." Or in English; I can testify that if you are carrying a serious torch for someone, this song can bring you to tears every time. - PJS
It's pretty strong even if you *aren't* carrying a torch. The English version is reported by Norman Buchan (notes to the recording "The Fisher Family") to have been translated by Frank O'Connor. (The translation by Lady Gregory quoted by Hoagland and MacDonogh/Robinson is very different, and hardly even poetry; I doubt anyone will ever sing it.)
The text sung by Joyce Fisher omits the references to promise-breaking, making the song a lost love song rather than a betrayal song. The Fishers reportedly had it from Bob Clancey.
The reference to the "Greek King's daughter" caused a discussion without much resolution on the Ballad-L mailing list. No conclusion was reached about the symbolism involved, but John Moulden gave what I think can be regarded as the last word (I've fiddled with the orthography to match Ballad Index conventions):
"Donal Óg was originally in Irish Gaelic and couched within the poetic conventions of that language. Songs in Irish are seldom narrative, rather are they a consideration, mostly in emotional terms, of an event or circumstance. The text being discussed here is a translation -- the original regarding the Greek King's daughter is 'Is inion ri Gréige mar chéile leapa agat' but their is no doubt about Greek rather than great or about his having the Greek King's daughter for his bed companion.
"Having cleared that up, consider the circumstance: a young woman about to be abandoned, addressing a young man in the most passionate terms, indicating the depths of her despair and the extent to which her life will be ruined if he leaves. It dwells also on his broken promises, including that of a fleet of boats. The most striking images however are those of a woman who says, in the utmost self-abasement, 'Take me with you, I'll look after you, you can sleep with other women' like the Greek King's daughter, and who ends by saying that he had robbed her of all direction (You've taken east and west) and (God himself), her faith."
Seosamh O Duibhginn devoted a monograph to the variant texts of this song; according to Kennedy, it contains nearly every version ever collected. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.1
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2021 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.