Nighean Donn A Chuiailein Riomhaich jig

Also known as Brown Haired Girl With Lovely Tresses, The Dark Haired Maid’s Highland Fling, Nighean Donn A’ Chuailein Riomhaich.

There are 2 recordings of a tune by this name.

Nighean Donn A Chuiailein Riomhaich has been added to 24 tunebooks.

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Four settings

X: 1
T: Nighean Donn A Chuiailein Riomhaich
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Cmaj
|: C3 C2 E | G2 A c2 G | A2 E G2 E | D2 E A2 G |
C3 C2 E | G2 A c2 G | A2 E G2 E | D C2 C3 :|
|: c3 c2 e | d c2 c2 G | E2 F G2 G | _B2 A A G2 |
G2 c e2 c | d2 e c2 G | A2 E G2 E | D C2 C3 :|
X: 2
T: Nighean Donn A Chuiailein Riomhaich
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|: D3 D2 F | A2 B d2 A | B2 F A2 F | E2 F B2 A2 |
D3 D2 F | A2 B d2 A | B2 F A2 F | E D2 D3 :|
|: d3 d2 f | e d2 d2 AG | F2 G A2 AG | =c2 B B A2 |
A2 d f2 d | e2 f d2 A | B2 F A2 F | E D2 D3 :|
X: 3
T: Nighean Donn A Chuiailein Riomhaich
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|: G3 G2 B | d2 e g2 d | e2 B d2 B | A2 B e d2 |
G3 G2 B | d2 e g2 d | e2 B d2 B | A G2 G3 :|
|: g3 g2 b | a g2 g2 d | B2 c d2 d | =f2 e e d2 |
d2 g b2 g | a2 b g2 d | e2 B d2 B | A G2 G3 :|
X: 4
T: Nighean Donn A Chuiailein Riomhaich
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|: e<d |G2 G>B d>eg>d | e>Bd>B A>Be<d |\
(3GGG G>B d>eg>d | e<gd>B A2 :|
|: (3Bcd |g2 g>b a<gg>d | (3Bcd g>d =f>ee<d |\
[1 (3ggg g>b a<gg>d | (3efg d>B A2 :|
[2 d>g (3bag a>bg<d | e>B (3dcB A2 |]

Fourteen comments

Nighean Donn A’ Chuailein Riomhaich

This is the air to a gaelic song and is played as an instrumental by Gabe McVarish of Daimh on the CD Moidart to Mabou.

I have also transposed it to D to fit a low whistle:
X:2
T:Nighean donn a chuiailein riomhaich
M:6/8
L:1/8
K:D
R: Air
D: Daimh. Mabou to Moidart. CD
N: Air of gaelic song
Z: Edgar Bolton. Transposed from C to D
|: D3 D2 F | A2 B d2 A | B2 F A2 F | E2 F B2 A2 |
D3 D2 F | A2 B d2 A | B2 F A2 F | E D2 D3 :|
|: d3 d2 f | e d2 d2 AG | F2 G A2 AG | =c2 B B A2 |
A2 d f2 d | e2 f d2 A | B2 F A2 F | E D2 D3 :|

I believe Nighean Donn means something like Brown-haired Maid or Girl.

It means "The Dark Haired Girl with the Curly Locks" - or so I believe.

Edgar - isn’t it in D on the CD anyway? It is certainly either D or G.

Words of the song

Amongst others, it is sung on the album Gun Tamh by Clair
I have ‘borrowed’ a translation of the gaelic lyrics from the following website
http://www.geocities.com/celticlyricscorner/cliar/guntamh.htm

Nighean Donn A’ Chuailein Rìomhaich

Nighean donn a’ chuailein rìomhaich
B’ àlainn, uasal, buaidh do shinnsir
Nighean donn a’ chuailein rìomhaich
Ghràdhaich mi do leannanachd

‘S ann a’ fuireach thall ‘s na cluaintean
Tha nigh’n bhàn a rinn mo bhuaireadh
Mach o ùr fhuil ghlan gun truailleadh
Sìol nam buadh ‘s na lannaireachd

An àm don bharrach a bhith brùchdadh
Bhiodh na smeòraichean a’ dùsgadh
Air bhàrr gheugan a’ seinn ciùil
‘S a’ togail cliù mo leannain-sa

Thug mi cion ‘s chan fhaod mi àicheadh
Do nigh’n duinn a’ chuailein àlainn
‘S mòr gum b’ fheàrr bhith suidhe làmh rith’
Na fìon Spàinnd’ is caineal ann

Translation (from same website)
The first section is the chorus, sung after each verse

Brown-haired girl of the beautiful tresses
Lovely, noble, triumph of your ancestry
Brown-haired girl of the beautiful tresses
I enjoy your courtship

Living yonder in the pastures
Is the fair girl who has tempted me
Descended from flesh, fine, undefiled blood
From talented, radiant stock

When the top branches are bursting forth
The thrushes would be wakening
On the ends of the branches, singing their songs
About my love’s renown

I gave my love and I cannot deny it
To the brown-haired girl of the lovely curls
I would rather sit beside her
Than have Spanish wine with cinnamon

I’ll check the CD for the key again Alistair

I only recently discovered my first electronic tuner was 40% out - this added to delightful impact of sunshine on mandolin strings has got me into some weird keys sometimes. Think I got this one from a book orginally though. I’ve chucked the tuner out now and bought another one - does anybody else have these problems? There are lots of tunes though which appear different verisons in ‘adjacent’ keys e.g Calliope House played in D rather than E, and I’m sure Gabe McVarish was playing the Banks of Lough Gowna in a different key to the one in my session tune books - or was that just my tuner again? 🙂

Yes you’re right, Daimh play it in G, Alistair!

Just checked the CD again and Gabe McVarish plays this in G not C (same fingering - next strings along for fiddle/mandolin)

Here’s an updated ABC

X:1
T:Nighean donn a chuiailein riomhaich
R: Air
D: Daimh. Mabou to Moidart. Track 5
N: Air of gaelic song
N: Played by Gabe MacVarish
Z: Edgar Bolton
M:6/8
L:1/8
K:G
|: G3 G2 B | d2 e g2 d | e2 B d2 B | A2 B e d2 |
G3 G2 B | d2 e g2 d | e2 B d2 B | A G2 G3 :|
|: g3 g2 b | a g2 g2 d | B2 c d2 d | =f2 e e d2 |
d2 g b2 g | a2 b g2 d | e2 B d2 B | A G2 G3 :|

Loads of other good tunes on this CD - must get some more of them transcribed and posted

This is also sung as a milling frolic song to accompany ‘fulling’ the fabric by a circle of folk beating, kneading and moving the damp cloth round the table in rhythmic accompaniment to the song… ~ with a chorus everyone joins in with…

Chorus - - -

Nighean donn a’ chuailein rìomhaich
B’ àlainn, uasal, buaidh do shinnsir
Nighean donn a’ chuailein rìomhaich
Ghràdhaich mi do leannanachd

“Nighean Donn A’ Chuailein Rìomhaich” ~ highland fling

R: highland fling / strathspey
K: G Major
|: e*d |
G2 G>B d>eg>d | e>Bd>B A>Be*d |
(3GGG G>B d>eg>d | e*gd>B A2 :|
|: (3Bcd |
g2 g>b a*gg>d | (3Bcd g>d =f>ee*d |
(ggg g>b a*gg>d | (3efg d>B A2 :|
d>g (3bag a>bg*d | e>B (3dcB A2 ||

I just happened to see this highland fling sitting there in this old favourite of a melody, so here it is prized out possibly less carefully than usual, a pearl in the rough in one key only, but there’s nothing stopping it in C, A or D for starters…

’*’ ~ again, because the ‘less than’ symbol poses problems I’ve used an asterisk in it’s place to show places for possible ‘snaps’ in this melody…

Love this song

Hi, everyone. This is my first post. Just arrived from Scotland and found out that this song is in at least 3 of the 7 albums I bought there (I’m yet to listen to 2 of them). One is Gun Tamh by Cliar. The other is Moidart to Mabou by Dàimh (instrumental). And the other is Skyedance by Alasdair Fraser and Paul Machlis (instrumental). I’m glad because I chose those albums by chance, I had no information whasoever about them, just wanted samples of various styles of Scottish/Celtic music. I just love the Cliar version, I’m trying to learn it by heart and to play. There’s no better way to imporve my Gaelic. I’m really happy that I found this site and the chords for the song!

Posted by .

Nighean Donn

Hi Friends,
I have a question about anonymous composer’s tunes and multiple sets of lyrics
I heard this tune Nighean Donn
and I loved it years ago. It was early internet
times and I could not find any lyrics or composer.
So, I made up my own words in English and
I wondered if I ever performed it if
folks would frown on me using my own poem?
Feedback please!
H.G.

Posted by .

It’s a time-honored tradition…

to set new words to old tunes—and vice-versa! However, I might suggest learning the traditional lyrics as well.

Posted by .

Re: Nighean Donn A Chuiailein Riomhaich

The spelling should be “Nighean Donn a’ Chuailein Rìomhaich”.

“Chuiailein” is just gobbledegook.