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The Dawning of the Day

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Wikipedia article

"'The Dawning of the Day'" (, literally "The bright ring of the day") is the name of two old Irish airs.

* "Finne Geal an Lae" (sometimes called "The Golden Star"), an air composed by the harpist Thomas Connellan in the 17th century.

* An Irish-language song with this name ("'Finne Geal an Lae'") was published by Edward Walsh (1805-1850) in 1847 in 'Irish Popular Songs' and later translated into English as "The Dawning of the Day". It has become well known as the melody to which Patrick Kavanagh's On Raglan Road is sung. It is often played as a march and is one of the first tunes that a student of Irish music will learn.

O'Connellan's "Finne Geal an Lae" is often confused with the later pentatonic melody to which the words "The Dawning of the Day" is set. The O'Connellan air is different in a number of respects, although there are melodic resemblances. Words are still sung to variants of it which mostly use only the first half of the air as printed in Bunting and other collections.

The Irish-language lyrics of "Finne Geal an Lae" describe an aisling where the poet encounters a mysterious beautiful woman. In this case, she upbraids him as a frivolous rake and points to the approaching dawn.



Helen of Troy is used in the translation rather than the literal Venus simply for its rhythm.

The final verse is a poetical rather than literal translation, which would be:

:She said to me "go away

:and let me go - you rake!

:there from the south the light is coming

:with the dawning of the day"


:Maidin moch do ghabhas amach,

:Ar bruachaibh Locha Lin;

:An Samhradh 'g teacht a's an chraobh len' ais,

:Is lonrach te n ngrin,

:Ar thaisteal dom tr bhailte poirt

:Is bnta mne ridhe,

:C do gheobhainn lem ais ach an chileann deas,

:Le finne geal an lae.

:N raibh brg n stoca, caidhp n clc;

:Ar mo stirin g n spir,

:Ach an folt fionn rga sos go troigh,

:Ag fs go barr an fhir.

:Bh caln crite aici ina glaic,

:A's ar dhrcht ba dheas a scimh,

:Do rug barra gean ar Bhineas dheas,

:Le finne geal an lae.

:Do shuigh an bhrideog sos lem ais,

:Ar bhinse glas den fhar,

:Ag magadh li bhos d maomh go pras,

:Mar mhnaoi n scarfainn li.

:'S dirt s liomsa, "imigh uaim,

:Is scaoil ar sil m, a ric",

:Sin iad aneas na soilse ag teacht,

:Le finne geal an lae.


:One morning early I went out

:On the shore of Lough Leinn

:The leafy trees of summertime,

:And the warm rays of the sun,

:As I wandered through the townlands,

:And the luscious grassy plains,

:Who should I meet but a beautiful maid,

:At the dawning of the day.

:No cap or cloak this maiden wore

:Her neck and feet were bare

:Down to the grass in ringlets fell

:Her glossy golden hair

:A milking pail was in her hand

:She was lovely, young and gay

:Her beauty excelled even Helen of Troy

:At the dawning of the day.

:On a mossy bank I sat me down

:With the maiden by my side

:With gentle words I courted her

:And asked her to be my bride

:She turned and said, "Please go away,"

:Then went on down the way

:And the morning light was shining bright

:At the dawning of the day.

translation by Na Casaidigh


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