Inghean Mac Diarmada - Miss MacDermott
Princess Royal

MacDermott Family Crest
MacDermott Family Crest

'The Princess Royal'is one of the most celebrated of Carolan's compositions, largely because of its association with the words of the song 'The Aretusa', to which it was set by Shield toward the end of the eighteenth century. The song of the 'The Aretusa'originally appreared in a small opera or musical entertainment called 'The Lock and Key', which was acted in 1796. The Princess Royal was composed for the eldest daughter in Carolan's time of The MacDermott of Coolavin. It is perhaps worth mentioning that there is an English folk song, of fairly wide distribution in England which is entitled 'The Princess Royal' but has no connection with Carolan's melody.

Song Notations

Notations are courtesy of Carolan, the Life and Times of an Irish Harper by Dónal O'Sullivan v 1 p Celtic Music Edition 1983.

Shield was responsible for the musical side, and the libretto was by Prince Hoare. The popularity of this particular number was helped by the anti-French feeling of the time. It chronicles an engagement between the 'Aretusa' and the frigate 'La Belle Poule'in the English Channel, 7th June, 1778:

On deck five hundred men did dance,
The stoutest they could find in France
We with two hundred men did advance
On board of the Arethusa.
Our captain hailed the Frenchmen, 'Ho!'

The Frenchmen they cried out, 'Hello!'
'Bear down, d'ye see, to our Admiral's lee.'
'No, no', says the Frenchman, 'that can't be.'--
'Then I must lug you along with me,'
Says the saucy Arethusa.

Courtesy of Vivian and Jack Hennessey, IrishPage.com, 2005.
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