Roisin Dubh

Róisín Dubh (song)

Róisín Dubh, meaning "Black Rose", written in the 16th century, is one of Ireland's most famous political songs. It is based on an older love-lyric in which referred to the poet's beloved rather than, as here, being a metaphor for Ireland. The intimate tone of the original carries over into the political song. It is often attributed to Antoine Ó Raifteiri, but almost certainly predates him . Originally translated from the Irish language by James Clarence Mangan, this translation is credited to Pádraig Pearse.

The song is named after Róisín Dubh, probably one of the daughters of Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone, Earl of Tyrone in the late 16th Century. The song is reputed to have originated in the camps of Red Hugh O'Donnell.

Black Rose

Little Rose, be not sad for all that hath behapped thee:

The friars are coming across the sea, they march on the main.

From the Pope shall come thy pardon, and from Rome, from the East-

And stint not Spanish wine to my Little Dark Rose.

Long the journey that I made with her from yesterday till today,

Over mountains did I go with her, under the sails upon the sea,

The Erne I passed by leaping, though wide the flood,

And there was string music on each side of me and my Little Dark Rose!

Thou hast slain me, O my bride, and may it serve thee no whit,

For the soul within me loveth thee, not since yesterday nor today,

Thou has left me weak and broken in mien and in shape,

Betray me not who love thee, my Little Dark Rose!

I would walk the dew with thee and the meadowy wastes,

In hope of getting love from thee, or part of my will,

Frangrant branch, thou didst promise me that thou hadst for me love-

And sure the flower of all Munster is Little Dark Rose!

Had I a yoke of horses I would plough against the hills,

In middle-Mass I'd make a gospel of my Little Dark Rose,

I'd give a kiss to the young girl that would give her mouth to me,

And behind the liss would lie embracing my Little Dark Rose!

The Erne shall rise in rude torrents, hills shall be rent,

The sea shall roll in red waves, and blood be poured out,

Every mountain glen in Ireland, and the bogs shall quake

Some day ere shall perish my Little Dark Rose!


This song is traditionally sung in the Irish language, with few if any recordings of the English existing. This song belongs to the 'aisling' or 'vision' songs of the 17th century. The reason behind the transposing of Ireland as a maiden was not merely poetic, but also avoided the English persecution of the time on songs about Ireland. It is also for this reason that political songs of this era are mostly sung in Irish, which the English authorities (for the most part) did not understand.

A Róisín ná bíodh brón ort fé'r éirigh dhuit:

Tá na bráithre 'teacht thar sáile 's iad ag triall ar muir,

Tiocfaidh do phárdún ón bPápa is ón Róimh anoir

'S ní spárálfar fíon Spáinneach ar mo Róisín Dubh.

Is fada an réim a léig mé léi ó inné 'dtí inniu,

Trasna sléibhte go ndeachas léi, fé sheolta ar muir;

An éirne is chaith mé 'léim í, cé gur mór é an sruth;

'S bhí ceol téad ar gach taobh díom is mo Róisín Dubh.

Mhairbh tú mé, a bhrídeach, is nárbh fhearrde dhuit,

Is go bhfuil m'anam istigh i ngean ort 's ní inné ná inniu;

D'fhág tú lag anbhfann mé i ngné is i gcruth-

Ná feall orm is mé i gnean ort, a Róisín Dubh.

Shiúbhalfainn féin an drúcht leat is fásaigh ghuirt,

Mar shúil go bhfaighinn rún uait nó páirt dem thoil.

A chraoibhín chumhra, gheallais domhsa go raibh grá agat dom

-'S gurab í fíor-scoth na Mumhan í, mo Róisín Dubh.

Beidh an Éirne 'na tuiltibh tréana is réabfar cnoic,

Beidh an fharraige 'na tonntaibh dearga is doirtfear fuil,

Beidh gach gleann sléibhe ar fud éireann is móinte ar crith,

Lá éigin sul a néagfaidh mo Róisín Dubh. [2]


Musicians who have covered the song include


[2] Ó hAodha, Séamus. Óir-Chiste Filíochta. (Comhlucht Oidechais na hÉireann, Teóranta: Baile Átha Cliath, 1922).

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