Category Archives: Emigration

The Irish Emigrant by the Countess of Gifford

I’m sitting on the stile, Mary,
Where we sat side by side,
On a bright May morning long ago,
When first you were my bride.
The corn was springing fresh and green,
And the lark sang loud and high,
And the red was on your lip Mary,
And the love light in your eye.

The place is little changed, Mary,
The day as bright as then;
The lark’s loud song is in my ear,
And the corn is green again!
But I miss the soft clasp of your hand,
And your breath warm on my cheek,
And I still keep listening for the words
You never more may speak.

‘Tis but a step down yonder lane,
And the little church stands near;
The church where we were wed, Mary,
I see the spire from here.
But the graveyard lies between, Mary,
And my step would break your rest,
For I’ve laid you, darling, down to sleep,
With your baby on your breast.

I’m very lonely now, Mary,
For the poor make no new friends;
But oh! they love the better far,
The few our father sends!
And you were all I had, Mary,
My blessing and my pride;
There’s nothing left to care for now,
Since my poor Mary died.

I’m bidding you a long farewell,
My Mary, kind and true!
But I’ll not forget you, darling,
In the land I’m going to!
They say there’s bread and work for all,
And the sun shines always there;
But I’ll not forget old Ireland,
Were it fifty times as fair.

On the Bromielaw Quay

November’s wind tonight is raw
And whips the Clyde to foam;
I watch here on the Bromielaw
The harvester’s go home.

Oh! Luck is theirs, and blest are they
Who cross the sea of Moyle;
To see again the dawning grey
The waters of the Foyle.

To-morrow night on starlit ways
They’ll go to a loved door,
And sit with kin by hearths ablaze
In Rosses or Gweedore.

No welcome warm, no lighted pane,
Now waits for me in the West;
And sorrow keener than the rain
Lies heavy on my breast.

Yet longings often draw me where
The boats for Ireland start;
They take an unseen passenger –
My homeless Irish heart.

Like wild geese in their homing flight
These toilers homeward draw,
And leave me lonely in the night
Upon the Bromielaw.

Rocky Road to Dublin

In the merry month of June, when first from home I started,
And left the girls alone, sad and broken hearted,
Shook hands with father dear, kissed my darling mother,
Drank a pint of beer, my tears and grief to smother;
Then off to reap the corn, and leave where I was born.
I cut a stout black-thorn to banish ghost or goblin ;
With a pair of brand new brogues, I rattled o’er the bogs –
Sure I frightened all the dogs on the rocky road to Dublin

For it is the rocky road, here’s the road to Dublin ;
Here’s the rocky road, now fire away to Dublin!

The steam coach was at hand, the driver said he’d cheap ones,
But sure the luggage van was too much for my ha’pence,
For England I was bound, it would never do to balk it,
For every step of the road, bedad! says I, I’ll walk it.
I did not sigh or moan until I saw Athlone.
A pain in my shin bone, it set my heart a-bubbling ;
And fearing the big cannon, looking o’er the Shannon,
I very quickly ran on the rocky road to Dublin

For it is the rocky road, here’s the road to Dublin ;
Here’s the rocky road, now fire away to Dublin!

In Mullingar, that night, I rested limbs so weary,
Started by daylight, with spirits light and airy ;
Took a drop of the pure, to keep my spirits from sinking,
That’s always an Irishman’s cure, whenever he’s troubled with thinking.
To see the lassies smile, laughing all the while
At my comical style, my heart set a-bubbling,
They axed if I was hired, the wages I required,
Until I was almost tired of the rocky road to Dublin.

For it is the rocky road, here’s the road to Dublin ;
Here’s the rocky road, now fire away to Dublin!

In Dublin next arrived, I thought it was a pity
To be so soon derived of a view of that fine city;
‘Twas then I took a stroll, all among the quality,
My bundle then was a stole in a neat locality,
Something crossed my mind, thinks I, “I’ll look behind”
No bundle could I find upon my stick a-wobbling.
Inquiring for the rogue, they said my Connaught brogue,
It wasn’t much in vogue on the rocky road to Dublin.

For it is the rocky road, here’s the road to Dublin ;
Here’s the rocky road, now fire away to Dublin!

A coachman raised his hand as if myself was wanting,
I went up to a stand, full of cars for jaunting ;
“Step up my boy!” says he ; “Ah, ah! that I will with pleasure,”
“and to the strawberry beds, I’ll drive you at your leisure.”
“A strawberry bed?” says I, “faith, that would be too high! On one of straw I’ll lie, and the berries won’t be troubling;”
He drove me out as far, upon an outside car,
Faith! Such jolting never wor on the rocky road to Dublin

For it is the rocky road, here’s the road to Dublin ;
Here’s the rocky road, now fire away to Dublin!

I soon got out of that, my spirits never failing,
I landed on the quay, just as the ship was sailing,
The captain at me roared, swore that no room had he,
But when I leaped on board, they a cabin found for Paddy.
Down among the pigs I played such rummy rigs,
Danced some hearty jigs, with water round me bubbling,
But when off Holyhead, I wished that I was dead,
Or safely put in bed, on the rocky road to Dublin.

For it is the rocky road, here’s the road to Dublin ;
Here’s the rocky road, now fire away to Dublin!

The boys in Liverpool, when on the dock I landed,
Called myself a fool, I could no longer stand it ;
My blood began to boil, my temper I was losing,
And poor old Erin’s Isle, they all began abusing.
“Hurrah! My boys,” says I, my shillelagh I let fly,
Some Galway boys were by, they saw I was a hobble in ;
Then with a loud hurrah! They joined me in the fray.
Faugh-a-ballagh! Clear the way for the rocky road to Dublin.

Bonny Irish Boy

His name I love to mention, in Ireland he was born,
I loved him very dearly, but alas! From me he’s gone;
He’s gone to America, he promised to send for me,
But the face of my bonny Irish boy I can no longer see.

It was in Londonderry that city of note and fame,
Where first my bonny Irish lad a-courting came to me.
He told me pleasant stories, and said his bride I’d be,
But the face of my bonny Irish boy I can no longer see.

I engaged my passage for New York, and, on arriving there,
To seek and find my Irish boy, I quickly did prepare;
I searched New York and Providence, and Boston, all in vain,
But the face of my bonny Irish boy was nowhere to be seen.

I went to Philadelphia, and from there to Baltimore,
I searched the state of Maryland, I searched it o’er and o’er.
I prayed that I might find him, wherever he might be.
But the face of my bonny Irish boy I could no longer see.

One night as I lay on my bed, I dreamt I was his bride,
And sitting on the Blue Bell Hill, and he sat by my side.
a-gathering primroses, like the happy days of yore,
I awoke quite broken hearted in the city of Baltimore.

Early next morning a knock came to my door,
I heard his voice, I knew it was the lad I did adore;
I hurried up to let him in, I never felt such joy
As when I fell into the arms of my darling Irish boy.

Farewell to Londonderry, I ne’er shall see you more,
Ah, many a pleasant night we spent around the sweet Lone Moor;
Our pockets were light, our hearts were good, we longed to be free,
And talked about a happy home and the land of liberty.

Teddy O’Neil (O’Neill)

Dreamt last night oh! Bad cess to the dreaming,
Sure I’d die if I thought ‘twould come truly to pass;
I dreamt, while the tears down my pillow were streming,
That Teddy was courting another fair lass.
Oh! Didn’t I wake with a weeping and wailing,
The grief of the thought was too much to conceal;
My mother cried, Norah, child what is your ailing?
But all I could utter was Teddy O’Neal –
My mother cried, Norah, child, what is your ailing?
But all I could utter was Teddy O’Neal.

Went to the cabin he’d danc’d his wild jigs in,
As neat a mud palace as ever was seen;
Considering it served to keep poultry and pigs in,
I’’m sure you’d allow ‘twas most decent and clean;
But now all around it looks cold, sad and dreary.
All sad, and all silent, no piper, no teel;
Not even the sun through the casement shines cheery,
Since I lost the dear darling boy, Teddy O’Neal –
Not even the sun through the casement shines cheery,
Since I lost the dear darling boy, Teddy O’Neal.

Shall I ever forget when the big ship was ready,
And the moment was come for my love to depart;
How I sobbed like a spalpeen, good-bye to you Teddy,
With a tear on my cheek, and a stone in my heart?
He said ‘twas to better his fortune he wander’d,
But what would be gold to the joy I should feel
If he’d only come back to me, honest and loving,
Still poor, yet my own darling Teddy O’Neil –
If he’d only come back to me, honest and loving,
Still poor, yet my own darling Teddy O’Neil.

The Star of Donegal

One evening fair to take the air, alone I chanced to stray,
Down by a lucid, silvery stream that ran along my way,
I spied two lovers talking, seated by an ancient ruined hall,
And the fair one’s name was Mary Orr, the Star of Donegal.

He pressed her hand, and then began, “my darling I must go
Unto the land of stars and stripes where peace and plenty flow,
But I want your faithful promise that you’ll wed none at all,
Until I do return to the Star of Donegal.”

She blushed and sighed and thus replied; “it grieves my heart full sore,
To think that you’re compelled to go and leave your native shore,
Here is my hand, you have my heart, I own the gift is small,
So stay at home and do not roam from matchless Donegal.”

The young man said: “my charming maid, at home I cannot stay,
To the Californian gold-fields I am bound to cross the sea,
To accumulate a fortune and to build a splendid hall,
To elevate to rank and state the Star of Donegal.”

She raised her lily white hand and said: “this castle in its day,
With all its plains and large domains from Lifford to the sea,
Belonged to my ancestors with many a splendid hall,
And if my father had his rights, he’s Lord of Donegal.”

The young man said: “my charming maid, the time is drawing near,
When the Irish will return home after their long career,
Our lovely land, by God’s command, the fairest of them all,
And heaven will see old Erin free, bright Star of Donegal.”

She raised her hand and thus she said: “God grant that I may see
Saint Patrick’s lovely Isle of Saints, great, glorious and free,
If that was so there’s none would go to New York or Montreal,
But cultivate and decorate the lands of Donegal.”

He clasped her in his arms, and, “My darling,” he did say,
“You know I love you dearly although I’m going away.
Let us get wed without fear or dread, that puts an end to all,
And then I’ll have my darling girl, the Star of Donegal.”

She gave consent and off they went to the house of Father Hugh,
Where he joined their hands in wedlock’s bands without any more to-do.
They sailed away from Derry Quay, and bade farewell to all,
And now they are in America, far, far from Donegal.