We start off with a mediaeval arrangement of Rug Muire Mac do Dhia (Mary Bore a Son to God), a traditional carol with Gaelic words.

Sir Festus Burke is a celebratory Carolan tune. We've joined it here to the festive Planxty Tom Judge which you may know better as Carolan's Frolic.

The Snow that Melts the Soonest was picked up from a Newcastle street singer in 1821 and brought over by Charles in 1971. We're not sure what happened in between! We found the fine hornpipe The Piper in the Meadow Straying in Johnny Fean's repertoire. We're not sure if whoever wrote it had just heard Deck the Halls or vice versa - but it's a nice Christmassy tune.

Playford's "Dancing Master" of 1651 is the official source for Drive the Cold Winter Away but we first heard it from Jimmy who claims he unearthed it single handed!
Thompson's and Cottage in the Grove are a pair of reels. The concertina is a perfect match for their delicate cadences. Ny Kirree fa Naghtey is a manx carol. The title is translated as The Sheep 'neath the Snow. Manx is quite close to both Donegal Irish and Scots Gallic (in Irish the title would read Na Caoirigh faoi Shneachta) but it was only ever written phonetically, hence the peculiar spelling. The tune is lovely, don't you think?

Crabs in the Skillet just the thing for a Christmas starter, is followed by Denis O'Connor, another Carolan tune (this time in celebration of The O'Connors of Belanagare). This was first played on Christmas day 1723. It's worn well! Jimmy did the arrangement on Do'n oiche ud i mbeithil (that night in Bethlehem) and it gives an unusual feel to this lovely old Gaelic carol. Although we play the Lullaby as an instrumental, it's really a song. The version we have has Victorian words, but there are other versions, other lyrics. The Snow And The Frost Are All Over/Paddy Fahey's. That we're great fans of Irish Ceili bands should be evident from this arrangement.

Charles has been singing When a Man's in Love for so long that we decided to get it all over in one go. This Song has been collected as far away as Donegal, Wexford and even Nova Scotia. How's that for universal appeal?

Tracks (Tracks with Lyrics: Click Links)

1/ Rug Muire Mac do Dhia (Mary Bore a Son to God)
2/ Sir Festus Burke/Carolan's Frolic
3/ The Snow that Melts the Soonest
4/ The Piper in the Meadow Straying
5/ Drive the Cold Winter away
6/ Thompson's/Cottage in the Grove
7/ Ny Kirree fo Naghtey (The Sheep 'neath the Snow)
8/ Crabs in the Skillet
9/ Denis O'Connor
10/ Do'n oiche ud i mbeithil (That Night in Bethlehem)
11/ Lullaby
12/ The Snow and the Frost are All Over / Paddy Fahey's
13/ When a Man's in Love

Charles O'Connor sang and played mandolin, fiddle, concertina and Northumbrian pipes.

Jim Lockhart played a bewildering array of keyboards including harpsichord, celeste, table organ, pipe organ and piano. He also sang and played Uilleann pipes, flute, tin whistle and recorder - octopus city!

John Fean played fiddle, mandolin, banjo and all manner of guitars.

Barry Devlin played bass and grumbled a lot and Eamon Carr hit out at a bodhran and a loose skinned Arabian Bongo. (Derek Taylor was not in the studio).

Remastered at Abbey Road Studios
by Peter Mew & Horslips
from the original tapes.


Recorded in Trend Studios; September 1975
Engineer Fred Meijer.
Thanks Fred!

Management, Horslips Records, 58 Haddingtcuz Road, Dublin 4.

This is a stereo album we've wanted to do for four years.
It can be played on mono

reproducers or on Christmas Day; or both. Happy Christmas.


Rug Muire Mac Do Dhia

Rug Muire mac do Dhia,
Íosa Críost, tríath na mban,
Maireann dá éis ’na hóigh,
An bhean is dóigh do gach dall.

Buime is máthair mhic Dé bhí,
Bean mar í ní fhaca súil;
Bean ler oscail flaitheas Dé,
A mholfas mé os gach dúil.

Ní cosúil í le mnáibh,
Muire mhór, an bhláth nach críon;
Ní cosúil balsam le muirt, 
Le leann goirt ní cosúil fíon.

Translation (from the Irish):

Mary Bore A Son To God

Mary bore a son to God,
Jesus Christ. Queen of her kind, 
She remains a virgin still,
She who is hope of all the blind.

Nurse and mother to God’s Son,
Woman like her never was seen;
A woman for whom God’s heaven opened, 
Her I praise before all beings.

Not like other women she,
Exalted Mary, ageless flower; 
Balsam won’t compare to dregs,
Sour ale to wine you can’t compare.

The Snow It Melts The Soonest 

Oh the snow it melts the soonest when the winds begin to sing
And the corn it ripens fastest when the frosts are setting in 
And when a woman tells me that my face she’ll soon forget
Before we part I’ll wad a croon she’s fain to follow yet

Oh the snow it melts the soonest when the winds begin to sing 
And the swallow skims without a thought as long as it is spring
But when spring goes and winter blows, my lass and you’ll be fain
For all your pride to follow me across the stormy main

Oh the snow it melts the soonest when the winds begin to sing
The bee that flew when summer shone in winter cannot sting
I’ve seen a woman’s anger melt between the night and morn
And it’s surely not a harder thing to tame a woman’s scorn

Oh never say me farewell here, no farewell I’ll receive
For you shall see me to the stile and kiss and take your leave
But I’ll stay here till the woodcock comes and the martlet takes his wing
Since the snow it melts the soonest when the winds begin to sing

Ny Kirree Fo Naghtey

Lorg geurey dy naghtey gus arragh dy reo
Va na shan kirree marroo as eein beggey veo
O girree shiu mo vochllin as gow shiu don chlieau
Ta na kirree fo naghtey cha dowan is vad reeu.

Kirree taims ans y lagan, kirree-goar ar Chleeu Rea
Kirree-keois y Choan-y-Chishte cha jig dy bragh vey.
O girree shiu mo vochllin as gow shiu don chlieau
Ta na kirree fo naghtey cha dowan is vad reeu.

Ta moilt am son an Nollag as jees son y Chaisht
Is ghaa ny tre elley son an traa a yioyms baase.
O girree shiu mo vochllin as gow shiu don chlieau
Ta na kirree fo naghtey cha dowan is vad reeu.

Translation (from the Manx Gaelic):

The Sheep ’Neath The Snow

After a winter of snow and a spring of frost,
The old sheep were dead and the lambs were alive.
O rise up my lad, and go to the hill,
The sheep are ’neath the snow, as deep as ever there was.

I have sheep in the hollow, and rams on Chleeu Rea,
And more on Choan-y-Chishte who will never get free.
O rise up my lad, and go to the hill,
The sheep are ’neath the snow, as deep as ever there was.

I’ve a wether for Christmas, and two for Easter, 
And two or three more for the time I die. 
O rise up my lad, and go to the hill,
The sheep are ’neath the snow, as deep as ever there was.

Don Oíche Úd i mBeithil

Don oíche úd i mBeithil, beidh tagairt faoi ghrian go bráth
Don oíche úd i mBeithil go dtáinig an Briathar slán.
Tá gríos-ghrua ar spéirthibh, ’san talamh ’na chlúdach bán,
Féach Íosagán sa chliabhán, ’s an Mhaighdean in aoibhneas grá. 

Ar leaca loma sléibhe, ’sé ghlacann na h-aoirí scáth;
Ar oscailt geal na spéire, tá teachtaire Dé ar fail.
Céad glóir anois don Athair, i bhFlaitheasaibh thuas go h-ard,
Is feasta fós ar thalamh, do fheara dea-mhéin, síochán.

Translation (from the Irish):

That night in Bethlehem

That night in Bethlehem will be spoken of forever under the sun,
That night in Bethlehem that the Word was made flesh.
The skies are aglow, the ground is covered in white,
See little Jesus in the cradle, and the Virgin in a transport of love. 

On the bare hillside, the shepherds take shelter;
The skies open to a messenger from God. 
A hundred praises now to the Father in heaven above,
And henceforth on Earth, to men of good will, peace. 

When A Man’s In Love

When a man’s in love he feels no cold like me not long ago
Like a hero bold to see his girl he’ll plough through frost and snow. 
The moon she gently shed her light along my dreary way
Until I came to that sweet spot where all my treasure lay. 

I knocked at my love’s window saying “My dear are you within?”
And softly she undid the latch and slyly I slipped in. 
Her hand was soft, her breath was sweet, her tongue did gently glide,
I stole a kiss, it was no miss, and I asked her to be my bride. 

“Take me to your chamber love, oh take me to your bed,
Oh take me to your chamber love to rest my weary head.” 
“To take you to my chamber love my parents they won’t agree,
But sit ye down by yon bright fire and I’ll sit close to thee.” 

“Oh many’s the time I courted you against your father’s will,
You never said that you’d be my bride but now my dear sit still.
Tonight I’m going to cross the sea to far Columbia’s shore,
And you will never, never see your youthful love no more. 

“Many’s the cold and stormy night I came to visit you,
When tossed about by cold winter winds or wet by the morning dew. 
Tonight our courtship’s at an end between my love and me,
So fare you well my favourite girl, a long farewell to thee.”

“Are you going to leave me now, oh pray what can I do?
I’d break through every bond of love to go along with you. 
Perhaps my parents may forget, but surely they’ll forgive
For from this hour I am resolved along with you to live.

“Don’t talk of going away my love, these words do break my heart,
Come let us go and married be before we have to part.” 
Then with a kiss the ring was closed and the wedding it’s come on,
From courtship’s cares they are released, these two are joined in one.