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Siúil a rún

Working at-a-distance with the LA-based Irish-US composer Jack Van Zandt has been such a gift during the corona virus lockdown. While I shelter-in-place in Cork, Ireland, Jack’s long-lost-home, we worked over the internet to co-design a new adaptation of this traditional Irish song that was taught to me by my Sean-nós teacher Máire Ní Chéileachair who is also singing in this version. We combined old with new, dreams with history and organic acoustic sounds with the digital arts to create an entirely current expression. This outcome is the first of a new collaboration that will involve Irish painters, storytellers, writers, and many other collaborators… Take a listen (we encourage listening with headphones or high quality speakers in order to hear the details) and dream the story that comes to your imagination.

Jack Van Zandt and Jane Rigler: Composers
Máire Ní Chéileachair: Vocal
Jane Rigler: Flutes, electronics and multitrack voices
Jack Van Zandt: Synthesizers, samplers, sound design and computer processing

Painting: “The Battle of Bantry Bay, May 11, 1689” by Adriaen van Diest.

The verses of the traditional song that inspires this work, Siúil a rún, refer to a lover’s enlistment in the Irish Brigade that left Ireland to serve in the French Army after the Williamite-Jacobite War ended with the Treaty of Limerick in 1691. In Ireland these soldiers of fortune were referred to as “Wild Geese” and their departure from Ireland known as the “Flight of the Wild Geese.” The war that decided who became King of England and its possessions between forces loyal to the deposed heir, English Catholic James II, and those loyal to Dutch Protestant William of Orange—who was married to James’s daughter Mary who became queen after the defeat of the Jacobite army—was a primary source of The Troubles in Ireland in the 20th century.


Siúil a rún

I wish I was on yonder hill
‘Tis there Id sit and cry my fill
‘Till every tear would turn a mill
Is go dté tu, mo mhuirnín slán.

Siúil, siúil, siúil a rún
Siúil go socar agus siúil go ciúin
Siúil go doras agus éalaigh liom
Is go dté tu, mo mhuirnín slán.

I’ll sell my rock, I’ll sell my reel
I’ll even sell my spinning wheel
to buy my love a coat of steel
Is go dté tu, mo mhuirnín slán.


I’ll dye my petticoats, I’ll dye them red
and it’s round the world I will beg for bread
until my parents would wish me dead.
Is go dté tu, mo mhuirnín slán.


But now my love has gone to France,
To try his fortune to advance;
If he e’er come back, ’tis but a chance,
Is go dté tu, mo mhuirnín slán.


Translation of Chorus:
Come, come, come, o love,
Quickly come to me, softly move;
Come to the door, and away we’ll flee,
And safe for aye may my darling be!