The origin of the song Eileen
In olden times the present parish of Clonegal consisted of two
parishes called Moyacomb and Barragh. St. Barragh was the saint of
the district and the church was dedicated to him, while the blessed
Well nearby was called Crunavane Well. Clonmullin Castle was also in
this parish and it was in this historic building that the song,
"Eileen Aroon" was first sung.
At the time the castle was the home of Eibhlín (Eileen) Kavanagh
who was the heroine in that song. The story may not be familiar to
many but the facts are that Eileen had formed an attachment for
Carroll More O'Daly who was a brother of a chieftain of Connaught.
This was in the reign of Elizabeth I. The young man was accomplished
at poetry and music and he and Eileen were very much in love,
Eileen's friends and family were opposed to the union and while
Carroll was away on business they persuaded her that he had married
someone else. Having convinced her by trickery of the truth of this,
they got her to agree to marry a man of their choice. Then a
Festival was arranged in the Castle to celebrate the approaching
marriage but her lover, Carroll heard what was afoot and attended
the celebration dressed as a gleeman.
He revealed himself to Eileen through the song and she knew that
his constancy had never wavered. Carroll had composed his song to
express his love and faithfulness while remaining incognito to the
rest of the guests. Eileen later escaped from the castle, fearful of
being forced into a loveless union and in due course wedded Carroll
*Eileen aroon (Eibhlín a Rún) - means Eileen, my
Source: Carloviana 1983. No. 30. p13'