Tell me the legends of long ago
When the kings and queens would dance in the realm of the Black Rose
Play me the melodies I want to know
So I can teach my children, oh

Pray tell me the story of young Cuchulainn
How his eyes were dark his expression sullen
And how he'd fight and always won
And how they cried when he was fallen

Oh tell me the story of the Queen of this land
And how her sons died at her own hand
And how fools obey commands
Oh tell me the legends of long ago

Where the mountains of Mourne come down to the sea
Will she no come back to me
Will she no come back to me

Oh Shenandoah I hear you calling
Far away you rolling river
Roll down the mountain side
On down on down go lassie go

Oh Tell me the legends of long ago
When the kings and queens would dance in the realms of the Black Rose
Play me the melodies so I might know
So I can tell my children, oh

My Roisin Dubh is my one and only true love
It was a joy that Joyce brought to me
While William Butler waits
And Oscar, he's going Wilde

Ah sure, Brendan where have you Behan?
Looking for a girl with green eyes
My dark Rosaleen is my only colleen
That Georgie knows Best

But Van is the man
Starvation once again
Drinking whiskey in the jar-o
Synge's Playboy of the Western World

As Shaw, Sean I was born and reared there
Where the Mountains of Mourne come down to the sea
Is such a long, long way from Tipperary

Lyrics submitted by deathwish

Roisin Dubh (Black Rose) song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentThis song is full of Irish cultural references.
    Roisin Dubh is Irish for Black Rose which is a nickname for Ireland itself.
    Cuchulainn is a mythical Irish warrior.
    The Shenandoah is a river in Ireland.
    James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Oscar Wilde and Brendan Behan are all Irish authors referenced in clever fashion in this song.
    Dark Rosaleen is an english translation of Roisin Dubh (so its essentially Dark Rose)
    I think, although I'm not much of a soccer guy, that George Best was a soccer player in Northern Ireland.
    Van the Man is Van Morrison, Irish musician.
    Starvation refers to the great famine.
    Whiskey in the Jar is a traditional Irish song and Synge is JM Synge is an Irish playwright. Playboy of the Western World was a Synge play.
    Tipperary is a county in Ireland.

    Pretty clever way of paying homage to Thin Lizzy's homeland.
    Twinb1983on May 30, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentLove the solo, Gary Moore's best.
    bearhunteron March 23, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe way Lizzy perform it is great, sincere.
    Sunnyhillon April 16, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAs previously stated, this song is essentially a celebration of Ireland.

    One must wonder though if the song was written, at least in part, in response to Na Trioblóidí, or The Troubles, during which Thin Lizzy existed.
    zt76831on July 21, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is awsome. It brings back so many memories of Ireland
    barneydon December 11, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is sooo beautiful......
    It's mourning for a lost life (ancient irish traditions by the tudors (if u wanna b all historical) / a love who made his life like a fairy tale (the "legends"/ king + queen dancing= him n her)
    but it's still an ace song....
    badlilfairyon February 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthin lizzy are the greatest, and this is one of their greatest.
    sleepsyon March 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentExcellent explanation, just wanted to add that 'It's a long way to Tipperary' is a traditional Irish song. Great song, great riff, great solo.
    PeterLon September 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgood explanation Twinb1983, but as well as Van refering to Van the man it may have the double meaning of Van Diemen's Land aka Tasmania were so many irish convicts were exciled
    Bennyrion September 17, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI know this song is chock full of Irish cultural and literary references. I always wondered though about the line "Looking for a girl with green eyes." Is that a specific reference to something? If so what?
    MydniteSonon April 09, 2014   Link

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