Goldenbridge: Lass of Aughrim

If you’ll be the lass of Aughrim
As I’ll take you to be
Tell me that first token
That passed between you and me
Oh don’t you remember
That night on yon lean hill
When we both met together
I am sorry now to tell
Oh the rain falls on my yellow locks
And the dew soaks my skin;
My babe lies cold in my arms;
Lord Gregory, let me in
Oh the rain falls on my heavy locks
And the dew soaks my skin;
My babe lies cold in my arms;
But none will let me in

This is absolutely an exquisite song. I first heard  it when I was a teenager in Goldenbridge in St. Bridget’s rosary-bead factory. It was played on an old record player that was placed in an alcove. I still adore old 98 vinyl records. I now realise, Sr. C. who was over the bead-making had an exquisite taste in Irish music. At the time, though, it sounded dreary to children, as the song was about consumption, and not really appropriate for young ears. I’ve since learned that the song is connected to James Joyce. In fact the gent is playing the restored version of his guitar. He does a marvellous job. I also enjoyed the backdrop of the song being played against an old sash window of a Georgian house overlooking onto St. Stephen’s Green.

“The Lass of Aughrim,” an Irish version of “The Lass of Roch Royal,” figures prominently in the story “The Dead” by James Joyce.

“The Dead” contains another reference to a song that is relevant to the plot of the story. “The Lass of Aughrim,” which Gretta hears the tenor D’Arcy hoarsely singing, reminds her of Michael Furey, who “used to sing that song” (231). Columbia’s Julianne Macarus notes, “D’Arcy’s hoarseness is another emblem of mortality,” a theme present in the story (Columbia, “Aughrim” Lyrics). The image featured in the refrain, that of the “lass” standing in the rain outside “Lord Gregory’s” window, is strikingly similar to the image of Michael Furey, standing outside Gretta’s window in the rain (233). Specifically, the line that Joyce cites, “O, the rain falls on my heavy locks, and the dew it wets my skin,” further describes the two scenes.

Read more analysis at Song Lyrics


Restored guitar of James Joyce

Lass of Aughrim by Susan McKeown


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