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The Quiet Land of Érin

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 10469 ; trad.]

The Quiet Land of Érin is a translation of an old Gaelic exile song, Árd Tí Cuain, by Joan O’Hara. Her sister Mary O’Hara recorded it in 1956 for her Decca album Songs of Érin. In the same year, it became the theme song for her BBC TV series Starlight. A recording of a BBC Radio Concert session from the early 1970s was included in 1987 on the BBC anthology Through Bushes and Briar. This video shows a live performance from 1983:

Jean Redpach sang The Quiet Land of Erin in 1964 on her Electra album Laddie Lie Near Me. Nat Hentoff commented in the liner notes:

Little is known about this lonesome cry of despair which Jean learned from the singing of the magnificient Irish singer Mary O’Neal. The original was wholly in Irish (Gaelic). The translation given here was mafe by Miss O’Hara’s sister Jean who preferred to leave the refrain in Irish.

Sandy Denny recorded The Quiet Land of Erin live for the BBC Radio 1 programme “My Kind of Folk” on 26 June 1968. This recording was published in 2007 on the 3 CD+DVD set Live at the BBC, and was included in 2010 on CD 13 of the Sandy Denny Box Set, together with a Winter 1968 home demo on CD 12.

Maggie Boyle recorded The Quiet Land of Erin in 1987 for her solo album Reaching Out and sang it in 1992 in the opening song of the movie Patriot Games. Maggie sang it in 1998 with Grace Notes on their Fellside album Red Wine & Promises, where she noted:

The lament of an Irish immigrant in Scotland (circa 1900, I think) who yearns to return home. I’ve been singing this song since I was 15 and recording it became a bit of a habit. Still love it!

The Quiet Land of Erin was also recorded by the Furey Brothers and, as an instrumental, by Alan Stivell.


Maggie Boyle sings The Quiet Land of Erin

Oh ’tis I would be in Árd Tí Cuain
Where the mountains stands away
And ’tis I would let the Sunday go
In a cuckoo’s glen above the bay

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Agus, och och Éire lig is o
Éire lionndubh agus o
Ah, the quiet land of Érin

Oh my heart is weary all alone
And it sends a lonely cry
To the land that sings beyond my dreams
And the lonely Sundays pass me by

I would travel back the twisted years
Through the bitter wasted wind
If the God above would let me lie
In a quiet place above the wind