The Gaelic Tradition: An Innis Àigh

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About this Song

This iconic Cape Breton song is sung by Raylene Rankin of Mabou. The "happy island" is Margaree Island and the composer of the song was Angus Y. MacLellan. Mr. MacLellan, Gaelic scholar and bard, was born at Southwest Margaree in 1878. Most of his poetry was written during the period 1912-1946 when he operated the Margaree Island Lighthouse. His nature poems are considered among the finest in any language. He was patronymically known as Aonghas Iain 'ic Iain 'ic Chaluim. His grandfather came from Morar, Scotland.

This version of An Innis Àigh was recorded in East Margaree for use in the Cape Breton film, Song of Seasons, when Raylene was only 15 years old.

An Innis Àigh. Raylene Rankin. T-1772. Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University.

Lyrics

Seinn an duan seo dhan Innis Àigh,
An innis uaine as gile tràigh;
Bidh sian air uairean a' bagairt cruaidh ris
Ach 's e mo luaidh-sa bhith ann a' tàmh.

Càit' as tràith' an tig samhradh caomh
Càit' as tràith' an tig blàth air craoibh
Càit' as bòidhche an seinn an smeòrach
Air bhàrr nan ògan? 'S an Innis Àigh!

An t-iasg as fiachaile dlùth don tràigh
Is ann m'a chrìochan is miann leis tàmh;
Bidh gillean èasgaidh le dorgh is lìontan
Moch, moch ga iarraidh mun Innis Àigh.

Tiugainn leam-sa chun na tràigh
'S an fheasgar chìuin-ghil aig àm an làin,
'S chì thu 'm bòidhchead 's an liuthad seòrsa
De dh'eòin tha còmhnaidh 's an Innis Àigh.

'S ged thèid mi cuairt chun an taoibh ud thall,
'S mi 'n dùil air uairibh gu fan mi ann,
Tha tàladh uaigneach le teas nach fuaraich
Gam tharraing buan don Innis Àigh.

O 's geàrr an ùine gu 'n teirig là;
Thig an oidhche 's gun iarr mi tàmh.
Mo chadal buan-sa bidh e cho suaimhneach
Ma bhios mo chluasag 's an Innis Àigh.

Translation:

The Happy Island

Sing this song to the Happy Island,
The green isle with the whitest beach;
Storms sometimes attack it severely,
But I love to live there.

Where does gentle summer arrive earlier
Where does blossom appear on trees earlier
Where does the thrush sing more beautifully
On the young branches? In the Happy Island.

The most valuable fish close to shore
Prefers to live near your boundaries;
Active lads with handlines and nets
Fish very early around the Happy Island.

Come with me to the beach
On a calm evening at high tide,
And you will see the beauty and many species
Of birds that live in the Happy Island.

And although I go to visit yonder country-side,
Sometimes thinking that I may stay there,
A mysterious attraction with heat that will not cool
Draws me relentlessly to the Happy Island.

Oh, the time is short till the day ends;
Night will come and I will seek rest;
My eternal slumber will be so tranquil
If my pillow is in the Happy Island.