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Updated 05/14/2013


The Dawning of the Day
Thomas Connellin

The Dawning of the Day (Irish: Fáinne Gael an Lae) is an old Irish air composed by the blind harpist Thomas Connellan (c. 1640/1645 – 1698) in the 17th Century. 

Connellan was born about 1640/1645 at Cloonmahon, County Sligo. Both he and his brother, William Connellan became harpers. Thomas is famous for the words and music of Molly MacAlpin, which is better known today as "Carolan's Dream". Turlough O'Carolan, Ireland's pre-eminent composer of the 17th and 18th centuries, loved the song so much that he is stated as saying that he would have traded all his own tunes in order to be the composer of Molly MacAlpin.

Fáine Geal an Lae” literally translates as ‘the bright ring of day’, referring to dawn. It was one of the tunes played in competition by 95 year old Irish harper known variously as Denis O'Hansey, O’Hampsey, Henson or Hampson (Donnchadh a Haimpsuigh) at the last great meeting of the ancient Irish harpers in July, 1792, at the Belfast Harp Festival. O'Hampsey lived to the age of 110. Bunting also states that blind harper William Carr (1777-?), originally from County Armagh, played it at the same competition.

The tune was published by Edward Walsh (1805-1850) in 1847 in Irish Popular Songs and later translated into English as The Dawning of the Day. The melody of this song was used by Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh for his poem, "On Raglan Road".


Maidin moch do ghabhas amach,
Ar bruach Locha Léin;
An Samhradh teacht's an chraobh len'ais,
Is ionrach te ón ngréin,
Ar thaisteal dom trí bhailte
poirt is bánta mine réidhe,
Cé a gheobhainn le máis ach an chúileann deas,
Le fáinne geal an lae.
Ní raibh bróg ná stoca, caidhp ná clóc;
Ar mo stóirin óg ón spier,
Ach folt fionn órga sios go troigh,
Ag fás go barr an théir.
Bhí calán crúite aici ina glaic,
'S ar dhrúcht ba dheas a scéimh,
Do rug barr gean ar Bhéineas deas,
Le fáinne geal an lae.
Do shuigh an bhrideog sios le m'ais,
Ar bhrinse glas den fhéar,
Ag magadh léi bhios dá maiomh go pras,
Mar mhnaoi nach scarfainn léi.
'S é dúirt í liomsa, "imigh uaim,
Is scaoil ar siúl mé a réic",
Sin iad aneas na soilse ag teacht,
Le fáinne geal an lae.
One morning early I went out
On the shore of Lough Leinn
The leafy trees of summertime,
And the warm rays of the sun,
As I wandered through the townlands,
And the luscious grassy plains,
Who should I meet but a beautiful maid,
At the dawning of the day.
No cap or cloak this maiden wore
Her neck and feet were bare
Down to the grass in ringlets fell
Her glossy golden hair
A milking pail was in her hand
She was lovely, young and gay
Her beauty excelled even Helen of Troy
At the dawning of the day.
On a mossy bank I sat me down
With the maiden by my side
With gentle words I courted her
And asked her to be my bride
She turned and said, "Please go away,"
Then went on down the way
And the morning light was shining bright
At the dawning of the day.