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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Niall of the Nine Hostages - The Musical!!!

Stew, I was perusing my threadbare copy of A History of Irish Culture, Music, and Bacon by Christina O'Aguilera when I unexpectedly came across something I think would be of interest to you - right in the middle of page 527, after a history of the potato barnacle in Kinvara, and just before an extensive passage on the role of the pennywhistle in symphonic music.

Apparently, the gentleman you wrote about a few weeks ago (sorry, it was Tuesday) Niall of the Nine Hostages, was the subject of a well-known anonymously composed mediaeval ballad. Since the ballad itself is public domain, unlike Miss O'Aguilera's fantastic colcannon receipe, I decided our readers might like a look as well:

The Ballad of Niall of the Nine Hostages
Translated from the Celtic by Earl Fando
(public disclaimer - Mr. Fando knows approximately two words of

Oh sit ye down, let me speak of him, a lad who you never could rile
A young man with real stamina, a bloke who's name was Niall
Oh Niall was a mighty rabbit man, a harer brave and pure,
But at the end of the day, put the rabbits away, it's shaggin' time for sure,
three hours sure.

The lasses liked him getting rough, their bonnets Niall would lob,
If not for the forming of the morning dew he'd still be on the job,
still be on the job.

Niall left his mark with the women folk, throughout the Emerald Isle
With Muireann, and Siobhán too, Dearbhaile (who was his wife)
Caitríona, and the rest have all been known by Niall!

Strangely enough, this ancient Celtic ballad can be easily sung to the theme from Gilligan's Isand.


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