Eilean N’Aran reel

Eilean N'Aran has been added to 5 tunebooks.

Download ABC

One setting

X: 1
T: Eilean N'Aran
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
E2 EE G4| F2 GF D4| E2 EE e2 e2| d2 ed B4| d2 ed B A3|
G A3 B A3| F4 ED E2| B2 A2 F2 E2| D4 E4 | E6 ||

Eighteen comments

Eilean n Aran or Eilean na Rann?

This is a song my Grandmother sang. but it is a song so, the dots don’t really allow you to record how I really play it; or she sang it; the meter seems to change with each verse. but this is the best I could do.
I would really like to know if anyone has come across this tune elsewhere? If I have the title right?

Do you have the words?

Eileen Aroon?

Just looking a title alone, might it be Eileen Aroon? There’s a song called this and associated festival in Bunclody, Co.Wexford. Can’t think of melody just off top of my head. Might be on Youtube or somewhere.

Posted .

Eilean n Aran

In reply to the two posts.. Its not the Eileen Aroon tunes in the Fiddlers tune book way my Grand mother’s family origionally came from Skye. so I think its most likely a Scottish tune.

The Words they were written out in English as

The Refrain
Eilean N’Aran Eilean N’Aran island whose hills are as dear as my own,
Over your heather I’ll never more roam, and I’m sad that I’m going to leave you
Verse. 1
The white surf breaks on your rocky shore,
The bracken bends low as the wind whistles o’er ,
The Sun it has gone and I feel autumn chill
And I’m sad that I’m going to leave you
Verse 2.
I have lived on your pastures the whole summer long
I have climbed on the cliffs where the fulmer belongs
i have listened at night to the curlews sweet song,
And i’m sad tht I’m going to leave you.

Record it

Ah well, it was worth a guess. Maybe you should record it the way you hear it, put it up on the web and post a link here. That way, people can learn it more reliably.

Posted .

Well, it’s likely fulmars were seen occasionally in summer in Ireland earlier, but they apparently only started nesting there around 1911. They were winter visitors up until then (one record as early as . Their main breeding ground in the 17th -19th century was St Kilda, but they reached Foula, in Shetland in 1878.

There were sightings in Inishmore in the Aran Islands in 1928 and 1935. As for Arran in Scotland, I’m not sure. I’ll try and find out, though they were recorded in the Firth of Clyde in the 1930s. It kind of helps to date the song, but there is also poetic licence!

"One recorded [Ireland - Kerry] in 1889" Text disappeared.

Got it!

[For a short spell in 1950, Sir Christopher Andrews and scientists from Harvard University selected Island Roan as a field laboratory for research work in their effort to find a cure for the common cold. Accompanied by a number of volunteer students, they made the island their home for three months, with no outside contact.

Their only communication was by radio telephone to the store at Skerray. All messages to and from the island were transmitted by Miss Mackay, the Post Office, Skerray. Stores and equipment arrived at Skerray Pier by lorry. Old George Anderson, the ferryman, had the task of ferrying all personnel and stores to the island. The charm of the island cast its spell over the students, and one of them composed the following song, which is both a salute and a farewell to Eilean nan Ron.

Eilean nan Ron, oh, Eilean nan Ron,
Island whose hills are as dear as my own,
Over your heather I’ll never more roam,
I feel sad that now I must leave you.

I’ve roamed o’er your pastures a whole summer long.
I’ve stood on your cliffs where the fulmar belong,
I’ve listened at night to the curlew’s sweet song;
How sad that now I must leave you.

The surf it is white round your wild rocky shore;
The wind whistles o’er and the bracken bends lower;
The breezes grow stronger, the surf it flies high;
It is sad that now I must leave you.

I’ll cross the Kyle Rannoch to Skerray,
and there I’ll stand on the jetty and look back again;
Oh, then, fairest isle, you’ll be gone from my ken,
And I know that I’ll never more see you.]


Sadly, too many Fulmars into pots… 🙁

Including young gulls…

Hold on a minute!

But does that sit well with the OP, Weejie! AlexBoydell says his? grandmother had the song and his lyrics whilst similar, differ a bit here & there, bearing that out. Of course, it’s possible his grandmother learnt it from that source you quote in the 1950’s.

But looking at his/her profile, they must be in their 70’s now, which might well have Granny well before that time. It wouldn’t be the first time people come up with a song but based it closely on some older pre existing ballad.

As to title, is ‘Eilean’ Scots Gaelic for Island like Óileain in Irish? In which case, you’d think it’s likely ‘The Isle of Seals’ - Ron being a seal.

Posted .

If those were the words his granny sang, they don’t tie in with the distribution of fulmars before the 1930s ore thereabouts anyway, unless it was in the north. The words differ mostly in their order.

So, the student might have based it on an older song, but I’ll lay odds the song always related to Eilean nan Ròn (which indeed does mean the island of seals).

"Sadly, too many Fulmars into pots"

Too many petrel heads about, Ceol.

I suppose we’ll have to wait till alexboydell comes back and see if s/he remembers when their Granny sang it..

Posted .

Thank you for all your interest in my little tune.
I have known the air all my life it seems..As my Grandmother crooned it as a lullaby when I was a child..The words she sang seemed just nonsense, but I have always assumed some at least were Gaelic words.
In 1950 I was in N.W. Scotland. Well remembered as it was my first Winter Winter trek in Scotland, magical;I attended an informal music evening when I played this tune (at that time I did not have any words.)a gentleman asked me about it and I played it a couple of times for him. Then some weeks later the English words arrived by post. I have always assumed they were the English translation of the Gaelic words of the song. It seems likely that the gentleman had heard the words from the source mentioned by Weejie.
. Thus I would feel that the tune is old particularly as my Great-grandmother who sang the tune to my Grandmother, came from N.W Scotland. The English words passed on to me by someone hearing them from another source. I must admit that I cannot be sure that I have the words exactly as they were given me its 60 years ago, I last heard the tune from my Grandmother 70 years ago!
Please remember the ABC gives only the skeleton of the tune please use the framework to create your own interpretations. I am sorry I do not know how to record the tune for You Tube, being nearly 80yrs old now and technically incompetent!!
I have just remembered the man who sent me the words was called “George” not much use I know.

Thanks Alex, appreciated…

Thanks Alex and it’s always much more interesting when people have a long association with a song or tune. You can’t be all that technically incompetent if you can look this up and write the notes in ABC etc.!!

If you have any members of a younger generation, ask them to record you and save it as an .mp3 file - many mobile phones can do this now. They can then post this to a website and put link here - it doesn’t need to be video on YouTube 🙂

Posted .