MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Nighean Dubh, Nighean Donn
(Black-haired maiden, Brown-haired maiden)
Dan Morrison CB 1 Tape 9 Track 1
North River Audio:
Milling Song

Gaelic

Nighean donn a bhroilich shoileir
Dheanain coinneamh riut is còmhradh.

Chorus:
Hu ora hu o nighean dubh nighean donn
Hi ri ri o nighean donn bhòidheach
Hu ora hu o nighean dubh nighean donn.

Dheanain coinneamh riut 's a Gheamhradh
'N am nan gamhna bhidh gan cnò.

Dheanain coinneamh riut 's an Fhoghar
'N am an fhadhail bhi 'ga bòrdadh.

Dheanain coinneamh riut 's a Gheamhradh
'N am nan gamhna bhi gan cno.

Chan fhaigh Caimbeulach fo'n ghrèin thu
Chan fhaigh mac na clèir nas mò.

Thus' air bhàrr nan tonn a seòladh.

[Chorus]

Thusa bruidhinn ris a'ghruagaich
'S mis ' air bharr nan stuadh a'seòladh.

Mise bruidhinn ris an nighean
'S tus' air bharr nan tonn a'seòladh.

[Chorus]

'S thusa bruidhinn ris an nighean
A thug gaol a crìdhe dhomhsa.

[Chorus]

English

Brown haired maid of the white breast
I would meet and talk with you.

Hu oro hu o black haired girl brown haired girl
Hi ri ri o bonny brown haired maid
Hu ra hu o black haired maid brown haired maid

I would meet you in the winter
When the steers are being penned.

I would meet you in the autumn
At ebb tide when going on board

I would meet you in the winter
When the steers are being penned.

No Campbell under the sun will win you
Nor will the son of the clergyman.

You are on the waves sailing.

[Chorus]

You are talking to the maiden
While I am on the seas sailing.

I am talking to the maiden
While you are on the waves sailing

[Chorus]

And you are talking to the maiden
Who loves me whole-heartedly

[Chorus]


Notes

This sailing song, now sung at milling frolics, was and is popular in many regions of Cape Breton. It involves a great deal of boastfulness on the part of the composer, who portrays himself as somewhat of a Casanova amongst women.

In this version of the song, Dan Morrison sings many verses without the usual singing of the chorus between each. This style of milling song presentation is common in field recordings and may reflect the singers desire to keep the song from becoming too long winded. Milling songs may take up to fifteen minutes to complete when sung with a group at a milling frolic.

The song has been recorded several times by The North Shore Gaelic Singers, and appears in many collections of Cape Breton Gaelic songs.

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