(UK customers: An Carn, Ceathrú Póilí & Waterstones UK)


Booksellers – Please order through Gill or Argosy



Micilín Muc


Full version:

Chuaigh Micilín Muc

ar an aonach lá

ar an aonach lá

ar an aonach lá

Chuaigh Micilín Muc

ar an aonach lá

Haigh! Hó! Micilín Muc!

(Micilín Muc went to the market one day, to the market one day…)


Cheannaigh sé hata le

cur ar a cheann

cur ar a cheann,

cur ar a cheann.

Cheannaigh sé hata le

cur ar a cheann,

Haigh! Hó! Micilín Muc!

(He bought a hat to put on his head, put on his head….)


Tháinig sé abhaile

le port na habhann,

le port na habhann,

le port na habhann,

Tháinig sé abhaile

le port na habhann

Haigh! Hó! Micilín Muc!

(He came home, along the river, along the river…)


Sciorr a chos is

thit sé isteach,

thit sé isteach,

thit sé isteach.

Sciorr a chos is

thit sé isteach.

Haigh! Hó! Micilín Muc!


(His foot skidded(i.e. he slipped) and he fell in, he fell in …)

Beir ar a chluas is

tarraing é amach

tarraing é amach

tarraing é amach

Beir ar a chluas is

tarraing é amach

Haigh! Hó! Micilín Muc!

(Grab him by the ear and pull him out, pull him out…)


Dilín Ó Deamhas


As we mention in the book notes, Dilín Ó Deamhas was a well-known cartoon on RTÉ during the 1980s. More info from here quote below:

Irish-language programme for children with a story about Nóra and her pet fish.


The 1980s children’s programme ‘Dilín Ó Deamhas’ took its name from the traditional Irish song sung in the opening titles. In this extract, Cathal Póirtéir consoles his co-presenter Máire Ní Bhric for not being able to fly like him. She can after all tell stories, like this one about Nóra and the pet fish who want to swim.


Gerald Victory created a composition based on the traditional song. Jan Mitchell created the collage-effect artwork for the cartoon – note the famous butterfly in the original and in ours! The band The Speks produced another version – see for more. They say:


“Dilín ó Deamhas is a traditional Irish nursery rhyme for kids. Our elders sang an English version of this sing-along song to us when we were children. It was called “She Didn’t Dance”. We have combined parts of both the Irish and English versions into one song with a Celtic theme…



Sit on a couch and hold your baby facing you in your lap. Gently bounce her on your knee and sing along to “She didn’t dance at all…” While singing “Throw her uppity up…” lift her up to your face and bring her back to your lap three times. On the third time gently lower her to the floor in time for “she will come down nearby…”


A rough translation of the verse in our book is:

We’ll throw her up and up,


We’ll throw the child up


Throw her up and up and up


And she’ll come down tomorrow.


Seán Ó Loinn


One of two Waterford songs in the book, this translates as:


Seán Ó Loinn lives over there in the valley


He and his family have nice house


He doesn’t care for hard work


But he lives happily


Oró, you are my darling


Stay there Séan love


Oró, you are my darling


Stay there happily


More info here


Thanks to Aodán Ó Ceallaigh for this song.


A Nóra Bheag

This is the second of two Waterford songs in the book, thanks again to Aodán.


Little Nóra, where were you last night

My Mammy said to me

At the back of the house at the water well

Learning dancing steps


And iomba Nóra, Nóra, Nóra

And iomba you are my sweetheart

And ioma Nóra you are my love

I’m so in love with you


iomba (‘umba’ – a non-lexical musical vocable)


Hup hup amach

This is a well-known children’s rhyme with lots of regional variants. This is a version that we half-adapted and sing with our children at home. Nicholas Williams’ wonderful collection of rhymes, Cniogaide Cnagaide, has some of them. The music came to us somewhat naturally!


Rough translation:

Hup hup, go out, oh you clumsy-footed pony

We’ll be in An Daingean (Dingle) this time tomorrow

Mamaí will put your shoe on, Daidi the nail,

And we’ll be in An Daingean this time tomorrow.



This is definitely the most unusual of all of the songs in the book. I first came across the lullaby on – Irish Traditional Music Archive — Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann – William Campbell sings it at the Dublin Oireachtas of 1908 (here: I haven’t heard any other recordings of it but have seen variations of it written in Cniogaide Cnagaide (Williams) among other collections.


Rough translation


Oh who is this lying down


So soundly at the door of my heart


From east or west come the shadow of night


Lithely and quietly


Husheen, Hush-oh, Hush is la-la lo-o-o…



There are two sections to this:

1. Background to Wishing Trees

2. Vocabulary

1. Information about Wishing Trees can be found on the last page of the book. Here is a translation:

Wishing trees or fairy trees can be found in many places in Ireland.

Historically, these were places that were believed to be door-ways to the fairy world.

The trees were considered good places to make wishes for future health and happiness.

Trees that were thought to be fairy trees were usually hawthorn trees, but they could also be oak or ash and they were often located near a holy well.

More recently, some of these trees have been covered with the physical embodiments of people’s wishes. Over time, however, these physical wishes can be harmful to the trees if they are made from material that won’t biodegrade.

The inhabitants of my story bring wishes to tie on this wishing tree. Like wishes, which can be fleeting, the best kind for the trees are those which will disappear over time and become part of the environment.

Some famous wishing trees sites in Ireland include:

The Hill of Tara, County Meath
St. Brigid’s Well, County Kildare
Tarbert Fairy Fort, County Kerry
Ballyvourney, County Cork
Dungiven Priory, County Derry
Fore Abbey, County Westmeath



2. Stór focal (vocabulary)

page 1

ar chnocainín – on a little hill

(cnoc = hill)

léi féin = by herself

page 4

crann = tree

guíonna = wishes

page 5

daoine = people

ábalta = able

(in ann = able)

guíonna a fhágáil = leave wishes

ann = there

page 8

bhí cónaí ar = lived

go leor ainmhithe = lots of animals

mór(a) = large

page 10

beag(a) = small

page 12

áit shábháilte = a safe place / haven

(literally: a safe place was in the tree but in Irish, we can use “in” to define something so: “the tree was a safe place”)

dóibh siúd = for those

a bhíonn ag eitilt = who fly (literally “who do be flying”)

sa lá = in the day (you can also just say “lá”)

page 13

san oíche = at night (you can also just say “oíche“)

page 15

áit shábháilte = a safe place / haven

do chách = for everyone

(you can also say “do gach duine”)

page 17

ach = but

céard faoin = what about the

faoin gcrann féin = about the tree (it)self

(note: we refer to the tree as female in this book despite “crann” being a masculine noun; there is no genderless ‘it’ form in Irish)

nach raibh = didn’t

guí ar bith = any wish/any wishes at all

aici = have/has (for a female)

page 19

nach raibh = didn’t

mianta = desires

ar bith = at all

page 21

go cinnte = for sure/surely

mianta a croí = her heart’s desires

teas na gréine = the heat of the sun

page 23

séideáin ghaoithe = gusts of wind

page 25

ceathanna báistí = showers of rain (i.e. rainshowers!)

page 28

cairde = friends

any questions? ask us at !



Véarsa 1


tá an ghrian ag éirí

tá na héin ag canadh

thar an bhfarraige mhín

go séimh is go binn.

the sun is rising

the birds are singing

over the smooth sea

gently and sweetly












ag dealramh ar charraig

type of edible seaweed – ‘channel wrack’

dulse – edible seaweed found on north atlantic coasts

shining or glistening on a rock

Véarsa 2



na báid is na hiascair

ina suí ar dtús,



amach leo

ón gcé

ag seoladh faoi luas.


tá na heangacha scaoilte

le breacadh lae









á leanúint


go réidh

the boats and fishers

up first (‘ina suí’
means sitting down and to be awake, up and about.

off they go

from the quay (‘cé’)

sailing at speed.


the nets are released

at dawn (at the breaking
of the day)

seagulls (listen to the
different regional pronunciations on




following them





Véarsa 3

mochóirí na maidine




le lag trá

ag breathnú amach


an solas sa bhá


lorg a gcos


sa ghaineamh fliuch


mall agus moch

early risers (from moch = early)




at low tide (lag = weak)


looking out


the light in the bay


footprints / imprints of
their feet

in the wet sand


late and early (note,
mall means early and late (and slow too), often depending on the region!)



Véarsa 4

tá na rónta

á ngoradh féin



faoi theas na gréine


ag glacadh néal codlata

tar éis a mbéile


sleamhnóidh siad


ar ball


ar ais san fharraige


éist leo

ag scréachaíl

go maorga mairgneach!

the seals are

warming themselves (from ‘gor’ – heat, warmth)


under the heat of the sun


taking a nap


after their dinner (meal)


they will slide


after a while; soon; shortly


back into the sea


listen to them


grandly, dignified (maorga), but wailingly too (mairgneach)



Véarsa 5


ag eitilt

anall is anonn

ag faire

ag fanacht

ag fiach

le fonn

a sciatháin fillte siar

a gcoirp ar tinneall

a rian ar an uisce

ag tumadh

go grinneall.



back and forth




with desire

their wings tucked back

bodies set, or tense

their mark


down to the bottom (grinneall – seabed)


Véarsa 6

tá an oíche ag titim

an ghrian

ag dul faoi

na héin is na héisc

ag dul a luí




nach iad atá diamhair


amach leo

san oíche

go beo is go bríomhar

the night is falling

the sun (

setting; going ‘under’

the birds and the fish

going to bed/sleep




aren’t they mysterious or enigmatic

out they go

at night

full of life and energy




Lá ‘le Bríde

tús an earraigh

uain nuabheirthe

ag pocléim


St Brigid’s Day

beginning of spring

newborn lambs



ag borradh


ag múscailt, ag coradh.


wild (pl)

awakening, stirring


áiteanna i gcéin

thar thíortha is aigéin.


ar thóir pailine is neachtair



plúiríní sneachta.



faraway places

over countries and oceans

bumble bees

on the hunt for pollen and nectar





faoi lán seoil


ag cóireáil rósóg


gabhláin ghaoithe

ag faoileitilt gan stró.


full swing


tending to rosebushes



gliding effortlessly


dearglach aniar

ag lapadaíl sa chladach,

ag splaiseáil


red glow from the west

paddling on the shore



ar theacht an fhómhair,

duilleoga órga

ag titim go mómhar.

ag cothú…

…créafóige, ithreach is féir


arrival of autumn

golden leaves

falling gracefully


…clay, soil and grass


na healaí is a n-ál

faoi shuaimhneas, faoi shó

sna haibhneacha

brat éadrom ceo.



ag imeacht leo,

ag déanamh a mbealaigh na tíortha teo.

swans and their broods

calmly, contendedly

in the rivers

light blanket of fog



heading off

making their way

hot countries

is cuma leis na páistí

faoin aimsir fhuar, thais!



iora rua

slán agus sábháilte

ón dochar, ón dua.

the children don’t care

cold wet weather




safe and sound

from hassle, from trouble


um Nollaig

is mó






lán de bhrí

at Christmas







full of life