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Muirsheen Durkin


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Hi to all,

here's a question related to Irish song though not directly to concertina; you see I sing as well as play concertina though not the two together; in fact I'm one of the best singers on Clifton St, Conway, AR. (South end). So: 'Goodbye Muirsheen Durkin, sure I'm sick and tired of working' But what/where pray is 'Muirsheen Durkin'?

thanks....Alan.

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It is rumoured that he was a travelling shoe-shine boy,who worked outside the Durkin Daenuts shop in Aberdeen.He carried his wares,it is said,in an old Edeophone case.This is supposed to have inspired Cliff ,when he sung Travelling Light,after obtaining a good shine administered by the obliging Moresheen. :ph34r: Hope this helps

Edited by zimbotut
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...what/where pray is 'Muirsheen Durkin'?

I always assumed it was someone's name, and until now it hadn't occurred to me that it might be either a place name or something meaningful in Irish Gaelic. But now you've stimulated my curiosity, and I decided to look it up in my old Irish-English dictionary. (I don't know Irish; I just have an old dictionary.) I've seen it spelled a number of different ways, so I tried various possibilities that would approximate the sound. The results are interesting.

 

No durcin (there's no K in Irish, but the C is always hard), but duircín means "young pig". Promising. Even more interesting is that the dictionary entry for duircín pointed me to the one for uircín, which means the same thing ("young pig"), but I think would be pronounced approximately "workin". A bilingual pun? I wonder.

 

The first word is trickier. No muirsín, but muirse (pronounced "muirshe" or "murshe"?) means "seashore", and ín is often a diminutive or affectionate ending (like turning Jim into Jimmy). So muirsín as "little seashore" or "dear seashore"? Maybe, but "dear seashore piglet" seems unlikely. I'll look for other possibilities.

 

One spelling I've seen is "Murshin". There's no mursín or murs or murse in the dictionary. The closest seem to be mursaire, which can mean "tyrant", and mursaireacht, which can mean "service", as in hired labor. Could either be both shortened and made diminutive? Could "Murshin Durkin" mean either "piggish petty tyrant" or "service to pigs"? Either would be amusing, but I rather doubt it.

 

What if the vowel wan't quite right? Well, mars just means "Mars", while the closest that begins with mai is máirseail, meaning "march" or "martial". So I think A is a dead end.

 

What's left is O. I find no words starting with mors, and only one long one beginning with moirs, moirseisear, meaning "seven people". However, mór, sometimes inflected as móir, is translated various ways, most indicating either large size or personal greatness. But Mór can also mean "Mary" or a related name. Could mórsín or móirsín be a diminutive of mór? I don't know.

 

After all of which, I'm pretty well stumped. Maybe it is just a name, possibly the name of a farmer for whom the singer had worked as a hired hand. Maybe it's just nonsense. But maybe it is Irish Gaelic. Do any C.net members know enough Irish to say for sure?

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Well, Jim,

 

I think you should write a song about the little piglet at the dear seashore. Or the piglet at the little seashore. Perhaps in Danish.

 

Helen

 

Who has never written a song. For which countless people are grateful.

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In my Irish Rovers cd set, the song is "Goodbye Mrs. Durkin".

What I've heard most commonly, from many sources and in various spellings, is "Murshin Durkin", which leads me to believe that that's the original. Versions with things like "Mrs. Durkin" and "Molly Durkin" seem to be isolated occurrences, and I suspect they're attempts to turn it into something that makes more sense either to the singers or to their audiences. I think it's something like an Appalachian mountain version of The Mermaid, where "the landlubbers lie down below" has been transformed into "the landlord lies down below", presumably because the mountain folk didn't know the word "landlubber".

Edited by JimLucas
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  • 3 months later...

"Durkin

Origin: Irish

 

Spelling variations include: Durkin, Durkan, Dorcan, McDurkin, McDorcan, McDurkan, Gurkin, McGurkin, O'Durkin, O'Durcan and many more.

 

First found in north Connacht where they were anciently seated as Chiefs of their race."

 

 

"The names Durkin, Durcan and Dorcan in Ireland are all derived from the

native Gaelic O'Duarcain and MacDuarcain Septs that were located in

Connaught Province in the West of the country and especially in County

Sligo. Gurkin is another variant sometimes used as an anglicized form

of these Sept names."

 

I found this info on some family history sites. Also the dictionary of Irish surnames

says that Durkin and its many variants means "a gloomy person". :(

 

Still can't find a meaning for Muirsheen though.

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Hi to all,

              here's a question related to Irish song though not directly to concertina; you see I sing as well as play concertina though not the two together; in fact I'm one of the best singers on Clifton St, Conway, AR. (South end). So: 'Goodbye Muirsheen Durkin, sure I'm sick and tired of working' But what/where pray is 'Muirsheen Durkin'?

                                 thanks....Alan.

 

Alan

No one seems to have interpreted what Muirsheen means. Well its the Gaelic for Maurice ie Muiris pronounced Muirish and Muirsheen or Muirishin is the diminutive.

Edited by shay fogary
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  • 1 month later...

The old Irish form is Mac Dhuarcáin which comes from the Irish word "duarcáin" meaning "pessimist." The simplified modern Irish language form is now seen as Ó Durcáin and to a lesser extent Ó Duarcáin. Someone posted that her mother's maiden name was Ó Duarcáin in the old Irish version. I believe that's incorrect. If it was her maiden name, it would appear as Ní Duarcáin shortened from Iníon Uí Duarcáin.

 

As for the song, I've always heard it as "Goodbye Mrs. Durkin."

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Durkin is an Irish surname, it was my mothers maiden name the old Irish version was `O Duarcain.

Hmm. My dictionary says "duar" means "labor". And I'm told that "O" is like the Scottish "Mac", meaning "son of" (from "óg", meaning "young"?). A clue, or another wild goose chase? :unsure:

 

 

In Irish, 'mac' means son (the 'of' is just a matter of translating the genitive case)and the 'o' is for grandson for whatever reason... at least that's what I've been told. Hope that helps!

 

edited to correct myself: 'ui' would mean grandson in an irish name... 'o' is of course the anglicization...

Edited by gretchen
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The old Irish form is Mac Dhuarcáin which comes from the Irish word "duarcáin" meaning "pessimist."

Confirmed in my Irish dictionary. I like that. "Goodbye, Maurice the Pessimist." ;) The singer could even be referring to himself, saying he's going to become an optimistic "new man", though from the rest of the chorus it sounds more like he's referring to a dour landlord.

 

As for the song, I've always heard it as "Goodbye Mrs. Durkin."

Is it possible that your sources all learned it from one modern "original" source? I'm inclined to believe that "Muirshin" (or somethnig similar-sounding) was the original, simply because it's easy to imagine someone substituting "Mrs." or "Mary" or whatever, so that it "makes sense", while the reverse seems fantastically unlikely.

 

Someone posted that her mother's maiden name was Ó Duarcáin in the old Irish version. I believe that's incorrect. If it was her maiden name, it would appear as Ní Duarcáin shortened from Iníon Uí Duarcáin.

My dictionary indicates that while "ní" and "ó" generally refer to female and male descendents, respectively, "ó" was sometimes used for the female. It's certainly correct in contemporary usage, where such names have become family names, rather than designating an actual father-child relationship. There's a similar thing with surnames like Robertson (English) and Thuvesson (Swedish) being shared by men and women... as opposed to Iceland, where Björn Jónsson's sister would still be Gunna Jónsdóttir (I hope I got those spellings correct), not Gunna Jónsson.

 

In Irish, 'mac' means son (the 'of' is just a matter of translating the genitive case) and the 'o' is for grandson for whatever reason... at least that's what I've been told.

More dictionary work: "Mac-", "ó", and "ní" all have multiple meanings. While "mac-" and "ó" respectively mean "son" and "grandson", the "mac-" prefix also means "derived from", while "ó" can mean "close cousin" or "descendant", but is also listed as an early comparative form of "og", i.e., it means/meant "younger". A bit like the use of "Junior" in English? "Ní" also means "not" or "is not", so could "Ní Duarcáin" as a maiden name, be interpreted as "not Durkin" (i.e., not any longer)? In any case, that seems not to be the historical origin of the construction.

 

Now how do we relate this to concertinas? Hmm. Chidley ó Wheatstone macDemian? :D

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