Category Archives: Ulster

The Cliffs of Dooneen

You may travel far, far from your own native land,
Far away o’er the mountains, far away o’er the foam,
But of all the fine places that I’ve ever been
Sure there’s none can compare with the cliffs of Dooneen.

Take a view o’er the mountains, fine sights you’ll see there
You’ll see the high rocky mountains o’er the west coast of Clare
Oh the town of Kilkee and Kilrush can be seen
From the high rocky slopes round the cliffs of Dooneen.

It’s a nice place to be on a fine summer’s day
Watching all the wild flowers that ne’er do decay
Oh the hares and lofty pheasants are plain to be seen
Making homes for their young round the cliffs of Dooneen.
Fare thee well to Dooneen, fare thee well for a while

And to all the kind people I’m leaving behind
To the streams and the meadows where late I have been
And the high rocky slopes round the cliffs of Dooneen.

The Enniskillen Dragoons (Version III) by Tommy Makem

Oh, our troop was made ready at the dawning of the day,
From lovely Enniskillen, they were marching us away;
They put us onaboard a ship to cross the raging main,
For to fight the bloody battle in the sunny land of Spain.
Fare thee well Enniskillen, fare thee well for awhile,
And all around the borders of Erin’s green isle;
And when the war is over, we’ll return in full bloom,
And you’ll all welcome home the Enniskillen Dragoons.
Oh, Spain it is a gallant land where wine and ale flow free,
And there’s lots of lovely women there to dandle on your knee;
And often in a tavern there, we’d make the rafters ring,
When every soldier in the house would raise lift glass and sing.

Fare thee well Enniskillen, fare thee well for awhile,
And all around the borders of Erin’s green isle;
And when the war is over, we’ll return in full bloom,
And you’ll all welcome home the Enniskillen Dragoons.

Well we fought for Ireland’s glory there and many a man did fall,
From musket and from bayonet and from thundering cannonball;
And many a foeman we laid low amid the battle throng,
As we prepared for action, you would often hear this song.

Fare thee well Enniskillen, fare thee well for awhile,
And all around the borders of Erin’s green isle;
And when the war is over, we’ll return in full bloom,
And you’ll all welcome home the Enniskillen Dragoons.

Well, now the fighting’s over, and for home we have set sail,
Our flag above this lofty ship is fluttering in the gale;
They’ve given us a pension, boys, of fourpence every day,
And when we reach Enniskillen, never more we’ll have to say.

Fare thee well Enniskillen, fare thee well for awhile,
And all around the borders of Erin’s green isle;
And when the war is over, we’ll return in full bloom,
And you’ll all welcome home the Enniskillen Dragoons.

Fare thee well Enniskillen, fare thee well for awhile,
And all around the borders of Erin’s green isle;
And when the war is over, we’ll return in full bloom,
And you’ll all welcome home the Enniskillen Dragoons.

There are at least three versions of this song, the first listed below(Enniskillen Dragoons 1) is that which has been recorded, the second (Enniskillen Dragoons 2) is most likely the original from which the popular version has come and the third (Enniskillen Dragoons 3), a version written and recorded by Tommy Makem.

Henry Joy McCracken (Version II)

It was on the Belfast mountains I heard a maid complain
And she vexed the sweet June evening with her heart-broken strain,
Saying “Woe is me, life’s anguish is more than I can dree,
Since Henry Joy McCracken died on the gallows tree.

“At Donegore he proudly rode and he wore a suit of green,
And brave though vain at Antrim his sword flashed lightening keen,
And when by spies surrounded his band to Slemish fled,
He came unto the Cavehill for to rest his weary head.

“I watched for him each night long as in our cot he slept,
At daybreak to the heather to McArt’s fort we crept,
When news came from Greencastle of a good ship anchored nigh,
And down by wee fountain we met to say good-bye.
‘He says, “My Love be cheerful for tears and fears are vain,”
He says, “My love be hopeful our land shall rise again,”
He kissed me ever fondly; he kissed me three times o’er,
Saying, “Death shall never part us my love forever more.”

‘That night I climbed the Cavehill and watched till morning blazed,
And when its fires had kindled across the loch I gazed,
I saw an English tender at anchor off Garmoyle,
But alas! No good ship bore him away to France’s soil.

And twice that night a tramping came from the old shore road,
‘Twas Ellis and his yeomen, false Niblock with them strode,
My father home returning the doleful story told,
“Alas,” he says, ” young Harry Joy for fifty pound is sold.”

“And is it true,” I asked her, “Yes it is true,” she said,
“For to this heart that loved him I pressed his gory head,
And every night pale bleeding his ghost comes to my side,
My Harry, my dead Harry, comes to his promised bride.”

Now on the Belfast Mountains this fair maid’s voice is still,
For in a grave they laid her on high Carnmoney Hill,
And the sad waves beneath her chant a requiem for the dead,
The rebel wind shrieks freedom above her weary head.

Vince Hearns

Vince Hearns

This is a second song about Henry Joy that I got from the singing of my friend Tim Lyons when we lived in Co. Clare. Tim subsequently recorded this song, which was written I believe by T.P. Cuming, although some ascribe its composition to P.J.McCall also. The song is the expression of the sentiments of Mary Bodle by whom McCracken fathered a child.

Two available versions.

Henry Joy McCracken (Version I)

Foreword by Vince Hearns:

I got this song from my Belfast friend Davy when we lived in a hostel in Co. Clare in the 1960’s. Henry Joy McCracken was born a Presbyterian in Belfast in 1767. By occupation he managed a cotton mill. He was a founder member of The Belfast City Branch of The United Irishmen and he later was to become a member of the Ulster Directory. He founded the first Sunday school in his native city and was well known for preaching political and religious liberty. In 1795, in the company of Wolfe Tone, Robert Simms, Samuel Nelson and Thomas Russell at the site of MacArt’s Fort on Cave Hill, outside Belfast they swore the oath “Never to desist in our efforts until we have subverted the authority of England over our country and asserted our independence”. Following a year of imprisonment in Dublin’s Kilmainham Jail, Henry Joy planned and led the 1798 rebellion in Co. Antrim. Following the defeat of his army at Antrim Town he retreated to the Slemish mountains and was planning to escape to the USA when he was captured. He was court-martialled and sentenced to death, the sentence was carried out at the Belfast Market House on June 17th 1798. His sister Mary Ann accompanied him from the prison cell to the gallows.

Henry Joy McCracken (Version I)

An Ulster man I’m proud to be from Antrim’s glens I come,
And though I’ve laboured by the sea I have followed fife and drum.
I have heard the martial tramp of men, I’ve seen them fight and die,
Ah lads I well remember when I followed Henry Joy.

I dragged my boat unto the land and I hid my sails away,
I hung my nets upon a tree and I scanned the moonlit bay.
The boys were out, the Redcoats too, I kissed my wife goodbye,
And in the shade of a green wood glade I followed Henry Joy.

Oh lads ’twas Ireland’s cause we fought for side and home we bled.
Though our hearts were true, our numbers were few and five to one lay dead.
There was many a lassie mourned her lad, and mother mourned her boy,
For youth was strong in that battle throng that followed Henry Joy.

In Antrim Town the tyrant stood, he tore our ranks with ball,
But with a cheer and a pike to clear, we swept them o’er the wall
Our pikes and sabres flashed that day, we won, but lost. Oh why?
No matter lads, I fought beside and shielded Henry Joy.

In Belfast town they have built a tree and the Redcoats muster there.
I saw him come as the beat of a drum, rang out on the barrack square.
He kissed his sister and went aloft he bid his last goodbye,
My God he died, and I turned and I cried. they have murdered Henry Joy.

Written by Henry Joy McCracken.

The Sweet Girls of Derry by J. E. Carpenter

Och! The sweet girls of Derry
Are comely and merry,
They have lips like the cherry,
And teeth like the snow;
But ’tis not in nature
To dwell on each feature,
That every sweet creature
In Derry can show!
Och, hone! So pleasant and merry,
They’re quite captivating – the sweet girls of Derry.

What can I compare to
Their soft silken hair, too!
It wouldn’t be fair to
Thus rival the crow!
And Och! ‘neath its creeping,
What fair necks were peeping,
Besides – all in keeping,
A freckle or so.
Och hone! So charming and merry
They bother’d me quite, did the sweet girls of Derry.

To see their eyes glitter
It made my heart twitter,
But their frown – Och! it’s bitter
When clouded their brows!
Then their dear little noses
Seem made to smell posies,
And their breath – shames the rose’s,
‘Tis sweet as the cow’s!
Och hone! So comely and merry
They’re quite captivating – the sweet girls of Derry.

So sweet too each voice is,
Its music so choice is,
My heart still rejoices
To think of the strain.
And to show how they bind me,
I left them behind me,
But soon they shall find me
In Derry again.
Och hone! – so pleasant and merry,
I’d live till I die – for the sweet girls of Derry.

The Star of the County Down

Sheet music:

 

Song lyrics:

Near to Banbridge Town, in the County Down
One morning in July,
Down a bóreen green came a sweet colleen,
And she smiled as she passed me by;
Oh!, she looked so neat from her two white feet
To the sheen of her nut-brown hair,
Sure the coaxing elf, I’d to shake myself
To make sure I was standing there.

Oh, from Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay,
And from Galway to Dublin town,
No maid I’ve seen like the brown colleen
That I met in the County Down.

As she onward sped I shook my head
And I gazed with a feeling quare,
And I said, says I, to a passer-by,
‘Who’s the maid with the nut-brown hair?’
Oh, he smiled at me, and with pride says be,
‘That’s the gem of Ireland’s crown,
She’s young Rosie McCann from the banks of the Bann,
She’s the Star of the County Down.’

Oh, from Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay,
And from Galway to Dublin town,
No maid I’ve seen like the brown colleen
That I met in the County Down.

She’d a soft brown eye and a look so sly,
And a smile like the rose in June,
And you hung on each note from her lily-white throat,
As she lilted an Irish tune.
At the pattern dance you were held in a trance,
As she tripped through a reel or a jig;
And when her eyes she’d roll, she’d coax, upon my soul,
A spud from a hungry pig.

Oh, from Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay,
And from Galway to Dublin town,
No maid I’ve seen like the brown colleen
That I met in the County Down.

I’ve travelled a bit, but never was hit
Since my roving career began;
But fair and square I surrendered there
To the charms of young Rose McCann.
With a heart to let and no tenant yet
Did I meet with in shawl or gown,
But in she went and I asked no rent
From the Star of the County Down.

Oh, from Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay,
And from Galway to Dublin town,
No maid I’ve seen like the brown colleen
That I met in the County Down.

At the cross roads fair I’ll be surely there
And I’ll dress in my Sunday clothes,
And I’ll try sheep’s eyes, and deludhering lies
On the heart of the nut-brown Rose.
No pipe I’ll smoke, no horse I’ll yoke,
Though my plough with rust turns brown,
Till a smiling bride by my own fireside
Sits the Star of the County Down.

The Boys From the County Armagh

There’s one fair county in Ireland
With memories so glorious and grand
Where nature has lavished its bounty
In the orchards of Erin’s green land
I love it’s cathederal city
Once founded by Patrick so true
And it bears in the heart of it’s bosom
The ashes of Brian Boru

Chorus:
It’s my old Irish home
Far across the foam
Although I’ve often left it
In foreign lands to roam
No matter where I wander
Through cities near or far
My heart is at home in old Ireland (WHERE?)
In the county of Armagh

I’ve traveled that part of the County
Through Newtown, Forkhill, Crossmaglen
Around the Gap of Mountnorris
And home by Blackwater again
Where the girls are so gay and so hearty
None fairer you’ll find near or far
But where are the boys that can court them? (WHERE?)
In the county of Armagh

Carrickfergus

I wish I was in Carrickfergus, only for nights in Ballygran
I would swim over the deepest ocean, the deepest ocean for my love to find
But he sea is wide and I cannot swim over and neither have I wings to fly
If I could f ind me a handsome boatman to ferry me over to my love and die

My childhood days bring back sad reflections of happy times I spent so long ago
My boyhood friends and my own relations have all passed on now like melting snow
But I’ll spend my days in endless roaming soft sit the grass my bed is free
Ah to be back in Carrickfergus on that long road down to the sea

And in Kilkenny it is reported there are marble stones as black as ink
With gold and silver I would support her, but I’ll sing no more now till I get a drink
I’m drunk today and I’m seldom sober, a handsome rover from town to town
Ah, but I’m sick now, my days are numbered so come all ye young men and lay me down

Castle of Dromore or October Winds (Version I)

October winds lament around the Castle of Dromore
Yet peace is in its lofty halls, a pháisde bán a stór,
Though autumn leaves may droop and die,
A bud of spring are you –
Sing hushaby, lul, lul, lo, lo, lan,
Sing hushaby, lul, lul, loo.

Bring no ill wind to hinder us, my helpless babe and me –
Dread spirit of Blackwater banks, Clan Eoin’s wild banshee,
And Holy Mary pitying us, in Heaven for grace doth sue
Sing hushaby, lul, lul, lo, lo, lan,
Sing hushaby, lul, lul, loo.

Take time to thrive, my Rose of hope,
In the garden of Dromore
Take heed, young Eagle – till thy wings
Are weathered fit to soar;
A little time and then our land
Is full of things to do
Sing hushaby, lul, lul, lo, lo, lan,
Sing hushaby, lul, lul, loo.

There are a number of Dromore Castles in Ireland. Clan Eoin is associated with County Tyrone and two versions of this song are presented here.

Castle of Dromore or October Winds (Version II)

The October winds lament around the Castle of Dromore
Yet peace is in her lofty halls, my loving treasure store
Though autumn leaves may droop and die, a bud of spring are you
Sing hushabye loo, low loo, low lan
Hushabye loo, low loo

Dread spirits all of black water, Clan Owen’s wild banshee
Bring no ill wind to him nor us, my helpless babe and me
And Holy Mary pitying us to Heaven for grace doth sue

Take time to thrive, my ray of hope, in the garden of Dromore
Take heed, young eaglet, till thy wings are feathered fit to soar
A little rest and then the world is full of work to do
A little rest and then the world is full of work to do

There are a number of Dromore Castles in Ireland. Clan Eoin is associated with County Tyrone and two versions of this song are presented here.