The Maid of Cúil Mór – Maighdean an Chúil Mór – a beautiful and haunting, traditional, Irish song (origin unknown)

In airde

So this song is of the Maid of Cúil Mór. Culmore in Northern Ireland, is a small village near DerryNorthern Ireland. Is as Cúil Mór in aice leis Doire í, an mhaighdean. It is at the mouth of the River Foyle). It is Irish traditional with origin unknown and many variations. This variation is sung by Cara Dillon. Oh first, what’s it about ? So its about a fair maiden who sails from Cúil Mór to America. Meanwhile, a boy who is besotted with love for her from first sight, laments her leaving Ireland and sails to America to find her but never does. Or is it a lament for the plight of the Irish people in having to emigrate away from their home land to find a better life, or is it about a boat instead ?

Verse 1

Leavin’ sweet lovely Derry.

For fair London town.

There is no finer harbour.

All around can be found.

Where the youngsters each evenin’.

Go down to the shore.

And the joy bells are ringin’.

For the maid of Cúil Mór.

Verse 2

The first time I saw her.

She pass-ed me by.

And the next time I saw her.

She bade me good-bye.

But the last time I saw her.

It grieved my heart sore.

For she sailed down Lough Foyle and…

…away from Cúil Mór.

Verse 3

If I had the power.

The storms for to rise.

I would make the wind blow out.

I’d darken the skies.

I would make the wind blow high.

And the salt seas to roar.

To the day that my darlin’.

Sailed away from Cúil Mór.

Verse 4

To the back parts of America.

My love I’d go and see.

For its there I know no-one.

And no-one knows me.

But if I don’t find her.

I’ll return home no more.

Like a pilgrim I’ll wander.

For the maid of Cúil Mór.

Verse 5 (added by author)

Now the maid lies a-waitin’.

As the light starts to fade.

For she’s bound home to Erin.

To the land our Lord made.

But the next time I see her.

I will grieve never more.

For she’ll e’er be my true love.

She’s the Maid of Cúil Mór.

From the Redcastle sessions

Here’s another version by the Bothy Band which is also awesome. These are the only two versions I have found so far which do credit to this beautiful song. I also have the lyrics for this which I posted on site as people were looking for the lyrics in very old threads probably before Google and Youtube came along making searches easy.

1. From sweet Londonderry, to the fair London Town
There is no other nicer harbour, anywhere to be found
Where the children each evenin’, is a-playin’ around the shore
And the joybells are ringin’, for the maid of Cúil Mór.

2. The first time that I met her, she passed me by
The next time that I met her, she bade me goodbye
But the last time that I met her, she grieved my heart sore.
For she sailed down Lough Foyle, and away from Cúil Mór.

3. If I had the power, the storm to rise
I would blow the wind higher, for to darken the skies
I would blow the wind higher, to make the salt seas to roar
On the day that my love sailed, away from Cúil Mór.

4. To the north of America, my love I’ll search for
For there I know no one, nor no one knows me
But should I not find her, I’ll return home no more
But like a pilgrim I will wander, for the maid of Cúil Mór.

5. [2 repeats]

Ok so I’m interested in this comment below the Youtube video which has me intrigued. Is it really about a ship or a real girl ?

It’s a song about a ship, the Maid of Coolmore,  sailing off to America, and it opens with what was, essentially, an announcement of the ship’s sailing. The ship is equated, poetically, to the girl in the song who is sailing away.