Cumha Bharúin Loch Mór
According to Edward Bunting, Thomas Purcell, Baron of Loughmoe (or Loughmore) in Co.
Tipperary, made his last will on 26th March 1597, John Scott composed his lament in 1599, and he
died on 3rd August 1607. It wouldn't be the only time a chief asked to hear his lament before he
'Cumha Caoine an Albanaigh' could be translated very literally as the 'dirge of the lament for the
Scot'. However, this form of the Irish title does not appear next to Bunting's earliest notations of the
piece, where only the word 'cumhach' is written in English phonetics. I have not found the term
'cumha chaoine' (dirge-lament) elsewhere. The word 'caoine' (cry, lament) may have been added to
the title by Bunting because of a preoccupation with the concept, and if so, the piece would then
merely have been called Cumha an Albanaigh, ie lament for the Scot.
Regardless, this Gaelic title is evidently a poor attempt at translating the English title of Scott's
Lamentation as grammar here dictates that the name which should appear after the word 'cumha'
should be that of the deceased, not the harper. The true Gaelic title and grammar appears in
Bunting MS29 f111v as 'Cooee Vareen Lagh Moor' (lament for the baron of Loughmore).
The actual Irish for Loughmoe is Luach Mha (price-field) rather than Loch Mór (big loch). It seems
that the 'Lagh Moor' of Donnchadh Õ hAmhsaigh (Denis O' Hampsey) is a mistake on his part. The
correct title of the piece should therefore perhaps be 'Cumha Bharúin Luach Mhaí' or somesuch.
Bunting also says that John's brother, Harry, composed Cumha an Deibhinnsi (the Lamentation of
Youths), for O' Hussey, Baron of Galtrim, who died in 1603. Cumha an Deibhinnsi could well be
Cumha na Damh-inse and translatable as the 'dirge of Devenish'.
It is usual in Gaelic culture to compose a lament for the person who has died. Cumha na Daimh-
inse, on the other hand, seems to be concerned with the subjects of an ancient legend. This raises
the question of whether the piece really is the one composed for O' Hussey.
It is also very different in style to John's lament. The cumha attributed specifically to Harry is very
instrumental in style whereas the 'cumha caoine' is like the cry of the voice. Perhaps the
instrumental one might be a later composition by a composer other than one of the Scotts.
The word 'caoine' itself may have been a linguistic borrowing by Gaelic monks of the Hebrew kinah,
קינה, which means 'lament'. Some of the melodies used in the synagogue for chanting the book of
Lamentations, especially in their European forms, bear comparison to some of those used for the
Two versions of Scott's Lamentation are examined here. The first is an edition created by myself
from Bunting's earliest notations of the piece in MS29, pp58 (aborted), 158 & 159 of the Bunting
collection held in Queen's University, Belfast. He obtained the piece from Donnchadh ó hAmhsaigh
(Denis O' Hampsey) either at the Belfast Harp Festival in 1792 or at Hampsey's home in Magilligan,
County Derry in 1792/3. The second version comes from the Introduction to Bunting's The Ancient
Music of Ireland printed in 1840.
Cumha Bharúin Loch Mór