A Chailini an bhfaca sibh Seoirse? – Girls Have You Seen George? - song & variations
This set of Baroque variations on a traditional Irish song is attributed to Cornelius Lyons (c. 1700) by Dennis O’Hampsey, from whom Edward Bunting transcribed it in 1792 for his Ancient Music of Ireland. Mr. Lyons was harper to the Earl of Antrim, and appears quite frequently in the harper Arthur O’Neill’s memoirs. This is one of a handful of intricate Clarsach variations attributed to him, including variations on Eileen a Rùn and Lady of the Desert, all played by Mr. O’Hampsey. Many Old Gaelic harpers sang to their own playing, utilizing ornamented harp versions of a tune accompanying a simpler sung version of the tune. This method appears in Bunting’s field notebooks, possibly partially notated for this song.
A Chaillíní, an bhfaca sibh Seóirse?
A chaillíní, ‘chaillíní, ‘bhfaca sibh Seóirse,
Seanduine liath is é ‘síor-dhol ann óige?
B’aite leis cailín ‘bheith aige ina sheomra,
Píopa tobac agus canna maith beorach.
Girls, have you seen George?
Girls, girls, have you seen George,
A grey old man who is always getting younger?
He loves to have a girl with him in his room,
A pipe of tobacco and a good can of beer.