Geaftaí Baile Bhuí waltz

Also known as Gaftai Baile Bui, Geaftai Baile Bui, Geaftai Bhaile Bhuí, Geaftai Bhaile Bui.

There are 12 recordings of this tune.

Geaftaí Baile Bhuí has been added to 61 tunebooks.

Download ABC

One setting

X: 1
T: Geaftaí Baile Bhuí
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
GA|B2A B2D|G3G2G|G2gg2d|g4dc|B2DG2A|B2BA2G|E4 ((3FGA)|
B2A B2D|G3G2G|G2gg2d|g4dc|B2DG2A|B2BA2G|G4zd|
d2Bd2e/f/|g3g2e|e2dg2e|d4dc|B2DG2A|B2BA2G|E4 ((3FGA)|

Twenty-one comments

Gaftai Baile Bui

Hello, does anyone know the meaning of “Gaftai Baile Bui”? It’s a lovely air I heard on a chieftains CD recently and just wanted to know what it meant.

Thanks in advance,


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Re: Gaftai Baile Bui

Something Yellow? 🙂

Re: Gaftai Baile Bui

It means “Gates of the Yellow Town”

Re: Gaftai Baile Bui

Thanks, violynnsey. Out of curiosity, what does “the Yellow Town” refer to?

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Re: Gaftai Baile Bui

I believe the town of Ballyboy, Clogheen, Co. Tipperary

It is the “Town of the Yellow Ford,” though sometimes called “The Yellow Town.”

However I’m not 100% sure, because another source claims that this is a northern air. I’ll have to ask a more reliable authority on the matter, and get back to you. I’m curious myself! Perhaps someone else on thesession will be able to put this in context for us…

Re: Gaftai Baile Bui

Geaftaí Baile Bhuí is a Donegal song which translates as The Gates of Ballybay. A friend of mine ,who works for the Irish Government translating all our Law into Irish, explained that the Donegal Irish for Gates is Geaftaí not Geataí as in the rest of Ireland. I was playing this tune in Vilnius in Lithuania a couple of years back when my hosts, a donegal couple, started singing the song. They said this was a local song for them.

Geaftaí Baile Bhuí ( The Gates of Ballybay )

This Donegal song is also played as a slow air.

Misleading time signature etc.

Time signature states a Waltz but tune written as a jig!? Even the midi plays it as such. The ABC notation can be checked quite simply before the tune is submitted. This is not the first time for this anomaly to occur and I am surprised not to find comment about this in the past. This air is also on a recording by Na Fili ‘Farewell to Connaught’ 1971. Time signature should be 4/4. A beautiful song air which we play very frequently at ceilidhs for listening to in between dance sets.

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Change of Key

Like Jonathan, I got this one of a Chieftans CD some years ago. It’s a great slow air and also sounds great in “D” - that is played once in “D” and then repeated in “G” as written here.

It is also on Marcas o Muchu’s cd “O Bheal go Beal” (1997). Beautiful!


Hello, does anyone know the words of this tune?

Posted by .

Geaftaí Bhaile Buí

Ag geaftaí Bhaile Buí a rinne mise an gníomh
a bhí amaideach baoth-déanta.
Éalú le mnaoi seal tamaill ins an oíche
ar neamhchead a raibh faoi na spéarthaí.
bhí mé lag gan bhrí, gan mhisneach in mo chroí
is í agam ar mhín-shléibhe;
Bhí an codladh á mo chloí agus b’éigin domsa luí
agus d’imigh sí ina fíormhaighdean.

’Gabhail a luí don ghréin faoin am seo aréir
nach agamsa bhí an scéal buartha.
ba é a shamhailt domsa an té a shínfí ins an chré
Ó, is a Mhuire nach mé an trua.
Is é ’déarfadh mo chairde, an méid acu a bhí i láthair:
“Altaigh leis na mná, a bhuachaill.”
Is an méid a ngoilfeadh orthu mo chás, goilfead siad a sá
fá mo chroí a bheith in mo lár ina ghual dubh.

Dá mbeinnse thall sa Spáinn i mo luí ar leaba an bháis
agus cluinimse do dháil in Éirinn,
go n-éireoinn i lár na hÉirne.
Focal ar bith mná ní chreidfidh mé go bráth
Mura bhfaidhidh mise scíofa i mBéarla é.
Gur chaith mé naoi lá ag cleasaíocht leis an bhás
ag dúil go bhfaidhinn spás ar éigin.

Is agamsa atá an mháistreás is measa i gcríocha Fáil
cé gur soineanta clár a héadain.
Chuirfeadh sí mo chás i bhfad agus i ngearr
agus b’fhurasta ár gcás a réiteach.
An madadh rua bheith sách, an chaora dhubh ar fáil
is ní chluinfí mé go bráth ag éileamh.
Agus m’fhocal duit, s Sheáin, go bhuil ealaíon ins na mná
agus codail féin go sámh ina n-éamais.

From the web…..


Thank you very much!

Do you know the meaning?
How can I translate it into English?

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The meaning is discussed above. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus.
Yellow town - yellow ford - Athboy - Ballyboy - Ballaghboy - Ballaghbuoy - Athboy
Take your choice!
There is reference to “na hÉirne” in the song, which would suggest a northern location - but the acceptance that this is a Donegal song should be a clincher.

The best way to literally translate the song would be to ask an Irish speaker from Donegal (I can only get so far).
However, a summary of the song as translated by Paddy Tunney (Geaftai Bhaile Atha Bui [The Gates of Ballaghbuoy]) is :

Singer leads Mary astray but falls asleep, leaving her a virgin. His heart “is coal-black … And for nine days I’ve wrestled with very death itself.” Advice: “women are all guile; … sleep the more soundly without them”
The song is on a similar theme to the Child ballad “The Broomfield Hill”.
It has been suggested that “The Yellow Town” is symbolic of “sexual enlightenment” (or more explicit) - and it is like “The Broomfield Hill” in the Child ballad. The singer was at the gates of “the yellow town” but fell asleep.

Anyway, have fun working it out.

To Weejie, thank you again.

I had no idea of that tune having such a suggestion.
I’ll try to work it out.
But, sad to say, I have no Irish friends,
’cause I live in Japan.

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“So, Baile Bhuí is Ballyvoy in Antrim…..”

Brave assertion.

Re: Geaftaí Baile Bhuí

Been learning this tune in our Monday class recently. Have been listening to Gavin Whelan “Catch the Air” (great album BTW) and the Chieftains Celebration album versions. What a seductively simple yet haunting slow air. The Gavin Whelan and Sean Potts (YouTube video) versions are played on C-whistle (key of F?) and, for some reason, the drop really adds to the tune.

Re: Geaftaí Baile Bhuí

The Rannafast tradition has it that this is Athboy, Meath.