I came home, caught up with some relatives and headed upstairs to rewind a bit. I wanted to play some music, so I turned my laptop on and as I automatically checked my emails I realized I still have some work to do. So with a bit of disdain I began working and I wanted some ambient background. The soundtrack of The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt appeared on my recommended youtube videos.

I can’t comment on the soundtrack properly, because I was only listening to it with half of my ear, but there was one song during which I stopped everything and listened. I felt this cultural charge wash over me like a purifying tsunami, I instantly knew I have to have a closer look into this. The song was called The Fields of Ard Skellig and it evoked these hauntingly beautiful emotions of longing. A female voice sings these wistfully charged lyrics accompanied by simplistic yet commiserating tunes of the lute and… something cello-like :).

So I investigated and found out that the lyrics are derived from a Scottish-Gaelic Song named Fear A’Bhàta, or The Boatman. Sìne NicFhionnlaigh wrote it in the 19th century to a young fisherman named Dòmhnall MacRath during their courtship. The lyrics invoke a woman, who is desperately waiting for her love – the boatman – to appear, crying, heartbroken because of the possibility that he may not turn up at all. She asks the other boatmen about his whereabouts and they tell her off for giving her love to him. But even without the support of her friends her love remains strong, yet more desperate.

Tong, Tunga Landscape

Landscape near Tong, Scotland, from where Síne was from

Now it was not hard for me to imagine a Gaelic woman standing alone on a cliff overlooking the rough sea, chilly wind blowing through her hair, yet she looks longingly to the distance…

The two were supposedly married not long after she wrote the song. Now I’m not really an emotional person, but this gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart, the sort that you get after watching two hours worth of romantic comedy, but the feeling is not so fickle and feeble. It is more… sustainable… Like an echo in the back of your mind.


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