The name of the D string above the sisters is mentioned by Bunting in an important
footnote in p21 of his introduction to The Ancient Music of Ireland 1840:
Called by the old harpers "The String of Melody," was tuned next to the sisters, being a
fifth above them.
MS37 item 17 contains the entry 'Téd na feola. The Flesh tendon or string' which is not
appropriate to an instrument strung with wire.
The word 'feith' is documented in Irish as meaning 'binne' (melodic sweetness) and 'focul'
(word) and this would be a perfect epithet for the first string on the Gaelic harp to be
tuned after the unison sisters, as it must create the first consonant interval and must be
sweet to the ear. However, this word possesses no L sound: an unattested compound
such as 'feitheall' (sweet melody) would have to be imagined.
MacBain's dictionary gives the feminine word 'fèile' as 'charm, incantation' and marks it as
obsolete. This may have a connection to the old Irish word 'felmas/felbas' (charm,
enchantment) and possibly 'elbas' which is of uncertain meaning. MacBain notes 'fèile',
with Zimmer, as deriving from the Early Irish éle (prayer, charm, incantation). This may be
related to an old Irish word 'éle/éile' (prayer/charm/incantation) and possibly related to the
old Irish word 'edel/eidel' (prayer). Both words are of unknown gender. It has also been
suggested that 'éle' derives from Christ's call to God on the cross, 'Eli, Eli', written
'hÉle/hÉli' in old Irish, which is a sound reminiscent of the Gaelic cry of lament, 'pililiú'.
Stokes matches 'fèile' with the Welsh 'wylo' (wail, weep) just as Irish 'amor' (music) equals
Welsh 'afar' (grief). The Old Norse word 'væla' (to lament), cognate with the English word
'wail', descends from Old Norse 'væ' (woe). The Old Irish equivalents of 'væ' are
'fé/fae/ué/hé/é' (woe). 'Fé' here also means 'lamentation'.