There are two settings of this tune in the old sources. In Daniel Dow’s book, A Collection of Ancient Scots Music, published in 1776, it is titled Cumh Peathar Ruari - Rorie Dall’s sister’s Lament. Scholars argue like mad over which Rory Dall it belongs to, and many opt for the later, Rory Dall Morrison, born 1656.
Unfortunately for this theory, the tune also appears in the Straloch lute manuscript of 1627-9, where it is titled simply “A Port” (i.e. a tune). This is 27 years before Rory Dall Morrison was born, but well within the lifetime of the earlier, Irish Rory Dall.
I am following the earlier, Straloch, setting, and I am interpreting this as a very personal lament by the composer on the death of his own sister.
© Simon Chadwick 2012 - earlygaelicharp.info/laments