MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Bithibh Aotrom 's Togaibh Fonn
(Be Merry and Raise a Tune)
an unidentified male CB 1 Tape 5 Track 5
Unknown Audio:
Homeland Song Village Verse

Gaelic

Bithibh eutrom 's togaibh fonn
Critheil sùnndach gun bhi trom
Òl deoch slàinte na bheil thall
Ann an tìr nan gleann 's nam beannan

'S raoir a fhuair mi sgeul bha bìnn
'S dh'fhuirich gleus air teud mo chìnn
Bidh mi nis a'dol ga seinn
Bhon' tha mi 's a choill am falach

'S raoir a fhuair mi sgeul air àigh
Dhùisg e m'ìnntinn suas gu dàn
Bhi 'gam iarraidh dhionnsaidh bhàil
Aig na Gàidheil thùs an Earraich

'S òlaibh air na Gàidheil threun
Rachadh aigeanach air ghleus
'S a bha fuasgailteach gu feum
Sealgairean na fèidh 's nam beanntan

'S ann aca fhèin bha'n t-èideadh grinn
Breacan guaileadh 's fèileadh cuim
Osan geàrr mun chalpa chrionn
'S boineid ghorm os cionn na mala

'S bho nach ruig sinn orr' an dràsd
Lion a chuach so suas gu stàic
Cuir mun cuairt i nuas gun dàil
Ann an ònair àrd nam fearaibh

'S òlaibh air na Gàidheil threun
Rachadh aigeanach air ghleus
'S a bha fuasgailteach gu feum
Sealgairean air fèidh nam beanntan

Sòraidh bhuam do'n t-sluagh a nùnn
Anns an tìr 's an robh mi'n tùs
'S tric a dh'fheuch iad bàt' fo siùil
'S iad a'stiùireadh i gu cala

. nan allta deur
Chleachd iad anns na bàtail riamh
Aig na gaisgich nach taidh fiamh
's nach biodh dìomhanach mun tarruing

English

Be merry and raise a song
Light-hearted, happy, not at all gloomy
Drink the health of those far away
In the land of the glens and mountains.

Last night I heard sweet news
That tuned the strings of my mind
And I will now begin to sing
Since I am hidden in the woods

Last night I found happiness
That awakened my mind to verse
To be asked to the dance
That the Gaels hold in the beginning of Spring.

Drink to the hardy Gaels
Who tackled anything with vigour
Who were ready to give a helping hand
Hunters of the deer on the hills

They were the ones with fine raiment
A shoulder plaid and neat kilt
Hose that were shapely on their legs
And a blue bonnet on their forehead

Since we cannot reach them now
Fill this goblet to the brim
Hand it round without delay
In high honour of the kinsmen

Drink to the hardy Gaels
Who tackled anything with vigour
Who were ready to give a helping hand
Hunters of deer on the hills

Farewell to the people over yonder
In the land where I was young
Often have they manned a ship under sail
And brought her safely to harbour

... the fierceness
They were used to in battle
They paid no heed to fear
And were not slow to draw.


Notes

Composed by the bard, John MacLean, this popular song praises the Gaelic community in Antigonish County. The occasion for the composition was MacLean’s invitation to a Spring ball open exclusively to the area’s Gaelic-speaking residents. The song marks a change in John MacLean’s attitude toward his adopted country which stands in stark contrast to A Choille Ghruamaich (a version of which Leach collected from Angus MacIsaac). It continues to be sung at milling frolics today.

This song has been published in several Gaelic song collections: The Glenbard Collection, Beyond the Hebrides and An t-Oranaiche.

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