5 Irish Gaelic Songs for Tin Whistle

5 easy Irish tin whistle songs for beginners, with sheet music, whistle tabs & audio (sheet music pdf download link at the bottom of the page). I play each tune with and without ornamentation, on a D tin whistle – I use a Tony Dixon trad whistle on these recordings. The songs in this article can be found in the book Tin Whistle for Beginners Volume 1.
These 5 songs are all in the Irish language – I’ve used the word “Gaelic” here to differentiate from Irish folk songs in English, but in general the Irish language is simply referred to as “Irish” – or “Gaeilge”, in Irish.

1: An Cailín Rua – The Red-Haired Girl
An old love song from the poet to the beautiful red-haired girl who takes all he has and leaves him for another. He takes her from Derry to Athlone, plying her with drink all the way. He says he prefers her “to any cow or heifer”; this fails to impress her and she runs off with a shop-boy. Such are the ways of love.

Chuaigh sí siar agus bróga breac’ uirthi,
Ribíní glasuaithne teannta ar a gruaig,
D’éalaigh sí uaimse le buachaill an tsiopa,
Is a Rí nár dheas í, mo chailín rua.

She went west wearing striped shoes,
Her hair tied up with the greenest ribbons,
She left me for a shop-boy,
God, wasn’t she lovely, my red-haired girl.

2: Óró mo Bháidín – Oh, My Little Boat
A song written by Padraig Pearse, an ode to his little boat or currach

Óró mo bháidín
Ag snámh ar a’gcuan
Óró mo bháidín
Faighimis na máidí
Agus téimis chun siuil
Óró mo bháidín
Óró mo churaichín ó
Óró mo bháidín

Oh my little boat
As she glides in the bay
Oh my little boat
Let’s get the sticks
And we’ll row on
Oh my little boat
Oh my little curragh
Oh my little boat

3: Cailín na Gruaige Doinne – The Brown-Haired Girl
Another love song, about a poor wanderer who falls for a lovely brown haired girl. her mother is having none of it, though, and now he’s “defeated, weak and senseless”.

Ar bhantaibh an tSróil sea d’fhagas mo stór,
‘S a maithrín ag gleo gan dabht léi.
‘D taobh grá ‘ thabhairt dom shórt sa d’fhánaí gan treoir,
Gan cairne buí óir i gcabhair dom.

On the plains of Sroil I left my love
And her mother, no doubt, was arguing with her
About the love she gave my kind, an aimless wanderer,
With no stack of gold to succour me.

4: Ar Éirinn ní neosfainn cé hí – For Ireland I’d Not Tell Her Name
An eighteenth-century love song; the poet is in love with a girl but won’t tell her name as presumably her friends and family would disapprove.

Le haonghean dá méin is dá cló,
Dá briathra is dá beol tanaí binn,
Do léimeas faoi dhéin dul ’na comhair
’S ar Éirinn ní neosfainn cé hí.

With her lovely bearing and shape,
Her sweet words and thin lips,
I hastened to be in her presence
But for all of Ireland I’d not tell her name.

5: Buachaill ón Éirne – Boy from the Erne
This is a tongue in cheek song in which the young cowherd claims immense riches, the opposite of his station in life.

Buachaill ón Éirne mé
‘s bhréagfainn féin cailín deas óg.
Ní iarrfainn bó spré léithe
tá mé féin saibhir go leor.
‘S liom Corcaigh ‘a mhéid é,
dhá thaobh a’ ghleanna ‘s Tír Eoghain.
‘S mura n-athraí mé béasaí
‘s mé n’ t-oidhr’ ar Chontae Mhaigh Eo.

I’m a boy from the Erne
and I could charm a nice young girl.
I would not ask for her wealth
as I am rich enough myself.
I own Cork, as big as it is,
two sides of the glen, and Tyrone.
And not to repeat myself,
I’m the heir of County Mayo.

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400 classic Irish session tunes

1: An Cailín Rua – The Red-Haired Girl

An Cailin Rua - tin whistle sheet music and tabs

2: Óró mo Bháidín – Oh, My Little Boat

oro mo bhaidin with fingering for tin whistle

3: Cailín na Gruaige Doinne – The Brown-Haired Girl

04 Ar Éirinn ní neosfainn cé hí – For Ireland I’d Not Tell Her Name

ar eireann ni neosfainn ce hi tin whistle music

5: Buachaill ón Éirne – Boy from the Erne

buachaill on eirne sheet music

Sheet Music Download

5 Irish Gaelic Songs for Tin Whistle – sheet music and whistle tabs in pdf format

More Tin Whistle Tunes with Sheet Music

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5 Irish Christmas Songs for Tin Whistle

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5 Easy Irish Tunes for Tin Whistle

Translation and text sources

Mudcat forum

Songs in Irish

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