Celtic Lyrics
by on 06.06.2015

The lyrics to any given traditional Celtic melody could vary on any given day.  In early American music, you see the same thing.  Melodies were “recycled” over and over to different lyrics.  After the late 19th century and copyrighting, you don’t see this as much anymore.

To find lyrics to Eres’ original songs, go to her Artist Channel on Ever Entertainment.

celtic ancient floral scroll

To find traditional Celtic lyrics, the best sources are in early volumes by collectors who sought to capture songs in their authentic form:

  • Marjorie Kennedy-Fraser, Songs of the Hebrides, Volumes 1909, 1917, 1921, 1928.
  • Majorie, the daughter of a famous Scottish singer, David Kennedy, and her daughter, Patuffa, trudged through fields and villages with an early cylindrical recording machine, capturing the songs folks warbled live.
  • Maria Jane Williams, The Ancient National Airs of Gwent and Morgannwg, 1844.

Maria Jane was an accomplished Welsh musician, and collected Welsh songs in their “wild and original state.”

  • Sabine Baring-Gould, Songs and Ballads of the West (1889–91), A Garland of Country Songs, 1895, English Folk Songs for Schools, 1907, In 2011 the complete collection of folk song manuscripts (including two notebooks not included in the microfiches edition) were digitized and published online by the Devon Tradition Project in association with the English Folk Dance and Song Society as part of the ‘Take Six’ project undertaken by the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.

Sabine was an English Anglican priest, hagiographer, antiquarian, novelist and eclectic scholar. His bibliography consists of more than 1240 publications.  He composed “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

  • Castro Sampedro y Folgar, Cancionero Musical de Galicia.

Castro was a Galician folklorist and researcher of Galician archeology.  He collected over 450 Galician songs.

  • Martin Codax, Cantigas de Amigo (Friend’s Ballads)

Codax was a Galician medieval joglar (non-noble composer and performer—as opposed to a trobador)

  • Francis Child, Child Ballads, five volumes between 1882-1898

Child was an American scholar, educator, and folklorist who set out to become an authority on the Scottish and English parallels of Germany’s Grimm fairy tales.

  • Olive Dame Campbell & Cecil Sharp, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, 1917

The movie Songcatcher was loosely based on American folklorist, Campbell.

Cecil Sharp was an English folklorist, and the founding father of the folklore revival in England in theceltic horse early 20th century.  Sharp also took the opportunity to do field work on English folk songs that had survived in the more remote regions of southern Appalachia pursuing a line of research pioneered by Campbell. Traveling through the mountains of Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee, Sharp and his assistant Maud Karpeles recorded a treasure trove of folk songs, many using the pentatonic scale and many in versions quite different from those Sharp had collected in rural England.

  • Francis O’Neill, was an Irish-born American police officer and collector of Irish traditional music.
  • O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (1903), containing 1,850 pieces of music
  • The Dance Music of Ireland (1907), sometimes called, “O’Neill’s 1001,” because of the number of tunes included
  • 400 tunes arranged for piano and violin (1915)
  • Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody (1922), 365 pieces
  • Irish Folk Music: A Fascinating Hobby (1910). Appendix A contains O’Farrells Treatise and Instructions on the Irish Pipes, published 1797-1800; appendix B is Hints to Amateur Pipers by Patrick J. Touhy.
  • Irish Minstrels and Musicians (1913), biographies of musicians, including those from whom he collected tunes in Chicago.

In 2008, Northwestern University Press issued Captain O’Neill’s Sketchy Recollections of an Eventful Life in Chicago, a non-musical memoir edited by Ellen Skerrett and Mary Lesch (a descendant of O’Neill), with a foreword by Nicholas Carolan of the Irish Traditional Music Archive. Carolan himself wrote a musical biography of O’Neill, A Harvest Saved: Francis O’Neill and Irish Music in Chicago, which was published in Ireland by Ossian in 1997.


Czulinski, Winnie, Drone On!  The High History of Celtic Music, Sound and Vision, 2004

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marjory_Kennedy-Fraser captured 3-11-14

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Jane_Williams captured 3-11-14

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabine_Baring-Gould captured 3-11-14

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabine_Baring-Gould captured 3-11-14

http://gl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casto_Sampedro_Folgar captured 3-11-14

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mart%C3%ADn_Codax captured 3-11-14

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_James_Child captured 3-11-14

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_Dame_Campbell captured 3-11-14

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecil_Sharp captured 3-11-14

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_O’Neill captured 3-11-14

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