Happy is the man who
Journeyed far and wide,
Who turns homeward,
Seasoned in the ways of men
To claim his own
And there, in peace abide.
Translation of “Happy the Man” by Joachim du Bellay
Separation from home by occupation or war has been a theme in Celtic music through the ages. Thoughts of homecoming provides the inspiration for the longing lyrics of many a Celtic song, both traditional and modern. Here are five to enjoy.
A CHOMARAIGH AOIBHINN Ó (Traditional)
Composed by Maurus Ó Faoláin (1853-1931), an Irish Cistercian priest, this song is about the writer’s love of his hometown – the valleys and mountains of Sweet Comeragh in County Waterford, Ireland. He has to leave for a while to make a living but becomes homesick and finds his way home again to his beloved Comeragh. The talented Karen Casey performs this traditional homecoming song in Irish Gaelic. The first and final verse in English are shown after the video.
My heartfelt blessings
On your valleys and mountains
And on your cheerful people
So naturally kind
On your shining streams
And your leafy woodlands
Your honeyed slopes
And your gleaming meadows
My heart fills with love
For all of them surely
I was a while away
From your beauty
Slaving so hard
In a foreign land
Base work it was
Just making a living
Far from my home
‘Neath the shade of your mountains
So I came back to you
The flower of the Déise
Oh Let me tell you that I love you
that I think about you all the time
Caledonia you’re calling me
now I’m going home
Caledonia is among the all-time classics of Irish music. Written by Dougie Maclean in 1977, the song became the most popular of all MacLean’s recordings and something of an anthem for Scotland (or Caledonia, the Latin name given by the Romans in times past). The song has been sung by a great number of artists. Here are two performances, one by Maclean himself and the second, by Irish folk singer, Dolores Keane (with online lyrics).
THE BONNIE BANKS OF LOCH LOMOND (Traditional)
O ye’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low
An’ I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
For me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon’
Two prisoners, one was beheaded, the other set free to go home provides the setting of his hauntingly beautiful traditional Scottish song. Performed here by the talented Ella Roberts.
HOME TO DONEGAL
Patsy Cavanagh wrote this song for which he was awarded a special Irish Music Rights Organization award to “mark the long-standing contribution his song has made to Irish music circles.” Home to Donegal has been recorded in America. Australia, Denmark, Norway plus numerous versions in Ireland and Britain. Nathan Carter gives his rendition of Home to Donegal with his characteristic powerful vocals.
RETURN TO IRELAND
A beautiful folksy song with great lyrics, wonderfully sung by Thomas Maguire and Fhiona Ennis.