Cuan Bhéil Inse
Go Cuan Bhéil Inse casadh mé Cois Góilín aoibhinn Dairbhre
Mar a seoltar flít na farraige thar sáile i gcéin.
I Portmagee do stadas seal, Faoi thuairim intinn maitheasa
D'fhonn bheith sealad eatarthu Mar mháistir léinn.
Is gearr gur chuala an eachtra ag cách mo léan!
Gur i mBord Eoghain Fhinn do chailleathas An t-árthach tréan.
Do phreab mo chroí le hatuirse I dtaobh loinge an taoisigh chalma
Go mo b´fhearr an tír í 'sheasamh seal do ráib an tséin."
Mo chiach mo chumha is m’atuirse, is mé im iarsma dubh ag ainnse
Is mé go síoraí ag déanamh marana ar mo chás bocht féin.
Mo chuid éadaigh chumhdaigh scaipaithe, do bhí déanta, cumtha, ceapatha
Is do thriall thar thriúchaibh Banban, mar bhláth fém dhéin.
Imithe san san bhfarraige ar bharr an scéil, is a thuilleadh acu san lasair,
Is mé go támhach trém néal.
Ba thrua le cách ar maidin mé go buartha casmhar ceasnaithe,
Is an fuacht do chráigh, im bhallaibh mé, gan snáth ón spéir.
Rough English Translation -
By the beautiful inlet of Dairbhre, where the fleets of the sea sail abroad.
With good intention I stopped In Portmagee a while, to be amongst them for a time as a school master. Alas soon the event was heard of by all!
That Eoghan Finn's was lost, the mighty vessel.
My heart gasped with misery. It was better for the country had it waited a while than to run the gale.
My gloom my agony and weariness, a survivor in pain and darkness, and I think of nothing else.
All my clothes torn and tattered- that were made sewn and fashioned.
Traveling through Erin like a strong flame set alight,
All gone down in ocean at the beginning of the story and whatever’s left is up in flames
And me here standing stark and silent
I was a pity to the worlds eyes this morning, overwrought difficult afflicted.
The cold goes down to my stomach I haven’t a stitch of clothing under the sky.
The information below is from various net and other sources, including mudcat, wikipedia and the Irish Fiddle Book....
Cuan bheil Inse (or Valentia) is a very interesting place in many ways. For example - it's the birthplace of the druid Mogh Roith, Servant of the Wheel, who beheaded John the Baptist; the source of the roof-slates on the British Houses of Parliament; and an American connection is that the privateer John Paul Jones often took shelter in Valentia Harbour or nearby Portmagee (named after a redoubtable 18th century female smuggler, incidentally) when his cruises brought him far into the Atlantic. The first transatlantic cable went from there to Newfoundland also.
Tomás Rua Ó Súilleabháin (1785-1848) wrote the song he was a schoolteacher and poet, and was transporting his books from Derrynane [on the south of the Iveragh peninsula] to Portmagee [opposite Valentia island on the north of the peninsula]. He placed his huge and valuable library of books - both printed and in manuscript form, all leather bound - and his clothes on a boat which was traveling from Derrynane Bay to Valentia Harbour. He himself travelled by road. Unfortunately the boat overturned near Carraig Eibhlín Ní Rathaille just outside Derrynane Bay (where Daniel o Conell was living) and his priceless library was lost. Cuan bhéil Inse 'Amhrán na Leabhar' or the song of the books was his poetic response and is probably his best known song which is also very popular with pipers as a slow air.
Incidentally, the accident happened near the start of the journey, about 15 miles in a straight line south of Valentia Harbour and more than twice that distance in sea miles, with some great big lumps of mountains in between. So although "Valentia" occurs in the opening line of the song, the island itself has little to do with the story.