Brighidín Ban Mo Stoir (My fair young bride) is by local poet Edward Walsh (1805-1850), sung by the late Scottish singer Andy M. Steward which appeared in his album Fire in the Store (1985). The song is a tribute to his wife Brigid Ó Súilleabháin.
Edward Walsh spent about thirty years of his life around Millstreet. His education was received in that most primitive of Irish primary schools, the ‘hedge school’. When little more than a boy he showed great intellectual gifts, and in 1830 was private tutor in County Cork. Additionally tutored children of an Irish member of parliament. He was for a time in the 1830’s teacher of a school at Millstreet.
He went to reside in Dublin in 1843, and was befriended by Charles Gavan Duffy, who got him appointed sub-editor of the Monitor. His Irish Jacobite Poetry (1844) and his Irish Popular Songs (1847) gave unmistakable evidence of a genuine poet. Yet he was forced to fight against poverty, and, in 1848, he accepted the post of schoolmaster to the junior convicts of Spike Island.
There he visited John Mitchel, on his way to penal servitude, who vividly describes in his Jail Journal his meeting with Walsh. He was fired for his meeting, and not long afterwards, he secured the schoolmastership of Cork work-house, but died within twelve months. A fine monument, with an epitaph in Irish and English, was erected to his memory in the Father Mathew Cemetery at Cork. Among his lyrics Mo Chragibhin Cno, Brighidin ban mo stor, and O’Donovan’s Daughter are in most Irish anthologies, while his translations from the Irish are both faithful and musical.
BRIGHIDÍN BAN MO STOIR.
I am a wandering minstrel man,
And Love my only theme,
I’ve stray’d beside the pleasant Bann,
And eke the Shannon’s stream ;
I’ve piped and played to wife and maid
By Barrow, Suir, and Nore,
But never met a maiden yet
Like Brighidin ban mo stoir
My girl hath ringlets rich and rare,
By Nature’s fingers wove –
Loch-Carra’s swan is not so fair
As is her breast of love;
And when she moves, in Sunday sheen,
Beyond our cottage door,
I’d scorn the high-born Saxon queen
For Brighidin ban mo stoir.
It is not that thy smile is sweet,
And soft thy voice of song –
It is not that thou fliest to meet
My comings lone and long!
But that doth rest beneath thy breast
A heart of purest core,
Whose pulse is known to me alone,
My Brighidin ban mo stoir.
The following note is attached in Sparling Irish Minstrelsy :
Brighidín ban mo stoir is, in English , fair young bride, or Bridget, my treasure. The proper sound of this phrase is not easily found by the mere English-speaking Irish. God forgive them their neglect of a tongue, compared with whose sweetness the mincing sibilations of the English are as the chirpings of a cock-sparrow on the house-roof to the soft cooing of the gentle cushat by the souithern Blackwater! The following is the best help I can afford them in this case: – “Bree-dheen-bawn-mu-sthore”. The proper name Brighit, or Bride, signifies a fiery dart, and was the name of the goddess in the pagan days of Ireland.” Author’s Note
The sheet notes for the song are on pages 86 and 87 of “The Minstrelsy of Ireland” by Alfred Moffat (1897)
The air of the song: This is one of the melodies attributed to Carolan. In the work entitled A Favourite Collection of the so much admired Old Irish Tunes. The Original and Genuine Compositions of Carolan, the celebrated Irish Bard, Dublin, 1780, it is entitled “Honble. Thos. Burk ”
; Burk Thumoth calls it simply “Thomas Burk ” in his Twelve English and Twelve Irish Airs, e. 1745.