Category Archives: Irish Music

The Lost Path by Thomas Osborne Davis

“Miss Hutton was deeply affected by Davis’ death coming only a month after they had become engaged Writing to a friend she stated: “In the midst of all my sorrow, the thought flashes through me, what pride, what glory, to have been the chosen one of such a heart! Oh, if I were to live through an eternity of grief I would not give up the short month of happiness that little time of communion with all that was most pure, most holy on earth……. I try to think of all that he has been spared; no woman’s love would have saved him from bitter disappointment; no care of mine could have prevented his glorious spirit being bruised, crushed by the unworthiness of those he had to deal with ……. No ideal I could form could be brighter, purer than he was….. One little short month it was and yet a whole existance of my love, which, I pray will purify and raise my whole soul till it be wothy to join that bright one gone before”

Annie Hutton died on 7th June 1853 in her 28th year and is buried in St. George’s cemetery in Drumcondra.

Thomas Davis wrote of Annie:
“Her eyes are darker than Dunloe,
Her soul is whiter than the snow,
Her tresses like arbutus flow,
Her step like frightened deer:
The still thy waves, capricious lake!
And ceaseless, soft winds round her wake
Yet never bring a cloud to break
The smile of Fannie dear!

Old Mangerton! thy angel’s plume –
Dear Innisfallen! brighter bloom
And Muckross! whisper through the gloom
Quaint legends to her ear!
Till strong as ash tree in its pride,
And gay as sunbeam on the tide,
We welcome back to Liffey’s side
Our brightest Fannie dear.”

Judging by what Annie said of Thomas and his poem of her – he found that love.

Also, when he died his funeral was a public one. Everyone who was anyone in the country attended and everyone who anyone may have considered no one also attended.

The Nation in the report on his funeral wrote: “Irish soil holds no more precious dust than his. The brave life he led, and the noble work he did, are not lost – shall never be lost to the Island that he loved so dearly. Souls like his never die, but make a part of the history and the heart of their country for ever”

Poems mourning his death were written by Samuel Ferguson, John Fisher Murray, Dalton Williams, J.D. Frazer, Denis Florence McCarthy, Francis Davis, Martin MacDermot, Maurice O’Connell, Bartholomew Dowling, W. P. Mulchinock, ‘Eva’ and others – all the major poets of that time in other words.

Gavan Duffy described Samuel Fergusons’ poem as “the most celtic in structure and spirit of all the elegies laid on the tomb of Davis”

Final verse of Samuel Fergusons’ poem to Davis:

Oh, brave young men, my love, my pride, my promise,
‘Tis on you my hopes are set.
In manliness, in kindliness, in virtue,
To make Erin a Nation yet;
Self-respecting, self-relying, self-advancing,
In union or in severance, free and strong;
And if God grant this, then under God to Thomas Davis
Let the greater praise belong!

So – it seems that Davis also achieved ‘soldier’s fame’ and more than that.

His path was not lost – ‘The Lost Path’ – it’s “the love of my heart ” – “Ar grá mo chroí”

Thomas was on the right path and got his hearts desires – only he didn’t live long enough to enjoy them.

Blog: Irish Dancing, ACE UCC 2015

Irish Dancing  : Genealogy Summer School 2015

University College Cork (UCC)

There’s not an awful lot that one can say about an evening of Irish dancing.

I can say though that from my point of view it was a wonderful evening, it got the people doing the course together so to speak. It relaxed everyone. The group were very good and knew well how to talk to the people they were playing for.

I think we’ll all agree that not everyone got up and danced and *definitely* I really and truly know that even though I walk my dogs at least two miles every day that I am NOT fit. One dance on the floor and that was it, I wanted to sit and do nothing. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to do ‘nothing’ when Irish music is playing. I didn’t dance on the floor very much but I made great use of the free floor!

I have to mention Aiden Feerick who was part of the organisation of the evening, he’s the man in blue in the photos and he danced the night away. You can see himself and Anne the here.

John Nangle (our other Gravestone person) joined the group and sang a few songs and we’ve been teasing him about that since then. We’re organising another session for next year and we’ve told him that he has to sing again!

Rosaleen Underwood also gave us a song or two. I’ve also got a photograph of Janice here, Janice was photographing everything and so will appear in none of her own shots.

I dare not forget her! Sitting down is Lorna Moloney the lady who organises the ACE Irish Genealogy Summer School down in UCC and then in the first photo here we have Nicholas with Lorna.  Nicholas was everywhere because he had the first aid box and minded us all and he was wonderful.

The Exile of Erin by Thomas Campbell

THOMAS CAMPBELL (1777-1844).

There came to the beach a poor Exile of Erin,
The dew on his thin robe was heavy and chill ;
For his country he sighed, when at twilight repairing
To wander alone by the wind beaten hill ;
But the day-star attracted his eyes’ sad devotion,
For it rose o’er his own native isle of the ocean,
Where once in the fire of his youthful emotion,
He sang the bold anthem of Erin go bragh.

Sad is my fate, said the heart-broken stranger;
The wild deer and wolf to a covert can flee
But I have no refuge from famine and danger,
A home and a country remain not to me.
Never again in the green sunny bowers,
Where my forefathers liv’d shall I spend the sweet hours,
Or cover my harp with the wild-woven flowers,
And strike to the numbers of Erin go bragh.

Erin, my country, tho’ sad and forsaken,
In dreams I revisit thy sea-beaten shore,
But, alas! in a far foreign land I awaken,
And sigh for the friends who can meet me no more.
Oh cruel fate! wilt thou never replace me
In a mansion of peace-where no perils can chase me?
Never again shall my brothers embrace me?
They died to defend me, or lived to deplore!

Where is my cabin door, fast by the wild wood?
Sisters and sire, did you weep for its fall?
Where is the mother that looked on my childhood?
Where is the bosom-friend, dearer than all?
Oh! my sad heart! long abandoned by pleasure,
Why did it dote on a fast-fading treasure.
Tears, like the raindrops, may fall without measure,
But rapture and beauty they cannot recall.

Yet, all its sad recollections suppressing,
One dying wish my lone bosom can draw;
Erin, an exile bequeaths thee his blessing!
Land of my forefathers-Erin go bragh!
Buried and cold, when my heart stills her motion,
Green be thy nelds-aweetest isle or the ocean,
And thy harp-striking bards sing aloud with devotion.
Erin, ma vourneen! Erin go bragh!
Ireland, my darling! Ireland for ever!

What is Love?

WHAT IS LOVE? [From the Early Irish.]

A love all-commanding, all-withstanding
Through a year is my love;
A grief darkly hiding, starkly biding
Without let or remove ,
Of strength a sharp straining, past sustaining
Wheresoever I rove,
A force still extending without ending
Before and around and above.

Of Heaven ’tis the brightest amazement,
The blackest abasement of Hell,
A struggle for breath with a spectre,
In nectar a choking to death;
‘Tis a race with Heaven’s lightning and thunder,
Then Champion Feats under Moyle’s water
‘Tis pursuing the cuckoo, the wooing
Of Echo, the Rock’s airy daughter.

Till my red lips turn ashen,
My light limbs grow leaden,
My heart loses motion,
In Death my eyes deaden,
So is my love and my passion,
So is my ceaseless devotion
To her to whom I gave them,
To her who will not have them.

Paddy at the Theatre

From the county of Monaghan lately I came,
I’m a tinker by trade, Laeey Dooly’s my name;
My cousin Tim Murphy, I met yesterday,
Says he, Mr. Dooly’ll come out to play?
Derry down down down, Derry down.

Is it the play that you mean? Are you sure that you’re right?
Tey’re treating the town to Pizzaro tonight:
But the treat as he called it, and the one that I mean,
Bad luck to his treat, it cost me all my tin.
Derry down down down, Derry down.

Well, the green curtain drew up, and a lady I spied,
When a man came to kiss her, she scornfully cried:
Get out you big blackguard, I’ll bother your jig!
When in comes Pizzaro, with a grunt like a pig.
Derry down down down, Derry down.

In the days of ould Goury, a long time ago,
The Spaniards claimed war ‘gainst Peru, you know;
They damned its cash, its jewels and keys,
Whena boy they called Rowler says: No, if you please.
Derry down down down, Derry down.

Then Rowler came in, like a day-star appeared,
He made a long speech and the sojers all cheered;
Says he, Beat well the Spaniards, and do the neat thing,
And then boys, stand up for your country and king.
Derry down down down, Derry down.

Then Mr. Murphy Alonzo somehow went to jail,
He got out by a back door without giving bail!
While Rowler was jumping o’er bridges and greens,
He was shot by some blackguard behind the big screens.
Derry down down down, Derry down.

Then Rowler came forward, and with him a child,
Looking all for the world like a man that was wild:
Here’s your gossoon, dear Cora, it’s my own blood that’s spilt
In defence of your child, blood an’ ounds, I’m kilt!
Derry down down down, Derry down.

The Alonzo and Pizzaro had a terrible fight,
Pizzaro got killed, that seemed perfectly right;
For the audience came down with a shower of applause,
They were all enlisted in the Peruvian’s cause.
Derry down down down, Derry down.

Then Alonzo came forward and handsomely bowed,
Saying : Ladies and gentlemen, meaning the crowd,
By your kind permission, to-morrow, then,
We’ll murder Pizzaro over again.
Derry down down down, Derry down.

Lamentation of Hugh Reynolds

My name it is Hugh Reynolds, I come from honest parents,
Near Cavan I was born, as plainly you may see;
By loving of a maid, one Catherine MacCabe,
My life has been betrayed; she’s a dear maid to me.

The country were bewailing my doleful situation,
But still I’d expectation this maid would set me free;
But, O! she was ungrateful, her parents proved deceitful,
And though I loved her faithful, she’s a dear maid to me.

Young men and tender maidens, throughout this Irish nation,
Who hear my lamentation, I hope you’ll pray for me;
The truth I will unfold, that my precious blood she sold,
In the grave I must lie cold; she’s a dear maid to me.

For now’ my glass it is run, and the hour it is come,
And I must die for love and the height of loyalty:
I thought it was no harm to embrace her in my arms,
Or take her from her parents; but she’s a dear maid to me.

Adieu, my loving father, and you, my tender mother,
Farewell, my dearest brother, who has suffered sore for me;
With irons I’m surrounded, in grief I lie confounded,
By perjury unbounded! she’s a dear maid to me.

Now, I can say no more; to the gallows I must go,
There to take the last farewell of my friends and counterie;
May the angels, shining bright, receive my soul this night,
And convey me into heaven to the blessed Trinity.

Here’s a Health to Sweet Erin by D. Ryan

Here’s a health to sweet Erin!
When roaming afar,
She shines in her beauty,
My soul’s guiding star,
Oh, ’tis long since the green hills
Of Cavan I saw;
Erin! Savourneen,
Slan leat go bragh

Here’s a health to sweet Erin!
When roaming afar,
She shines in her beauty,
My soul’s guiding star.

Here’s a health to old friendships,
And tiems full of joy,
To the home and the hearth,
Of my heart when a boy.
‘Mid the wreck of my hopes,
Nature still keeps her law;
Matair, Savourneen,
Slan leat go bragh!


Oh the land of the Shamrock
And harp has a spell
For this lone heart of mine,
That no language can tell!
Oh, ’tis long since the green hills
Of Cavan I saw;
Erin! Savourneen,
Slan leat go bragh


Darling Old Stick

My name is bold Morgan McCarthy from Trim,
My relations all died except one brother Jim;
He is gone a-sojering out to Cow Bull,
I dare say he’s laid low with a kick in the skull.
But let him be dead or be living
A prayer for his corpse I’ll be giving,
To send him soon home or to heaven,
For he left me his darlin’ stick.

If that stick had a tongue it could tell you some tales,
How it battered the countenances of the O’Neil’s;
It made bits of skull fly about in the air,
And it’s been the promoter of fun at each fair.
For I swear by the toenail of Moses
It has often broke bridges of noses
Of the faction that dared to oppose us –
It’s the darlin’ kippeen of a stick.

The last time I used it ‘twas on Patrick’s Day,
Larry Fagan and I got into a shilley;
We went on a spree to the fair of Athboy,
Where I danced, and when done, I kissed Kate McEvoy.
Then her sweetheart went out for his cousin,
And by Jabers! He brought in a dozen;
A doldhrum they would have knocked us in
It I hadn’t the taste of a stick.

War was the word when the factions came in,
And, to pummel us well, they peeled off their skin;
Like a Hercules there I stood for the attack,
And the first that came up I sent on his back.
Then I shoved out the eye of Pat Clancy,
(for he once humbugged sister Nancy);
in the meantime poor Kate took a fancy
to myself and a bit of a tick.

I smathered her sweetheart until he was black,
She then tipped me the wink – we were off in a crack;
We went to a house t’other end of the town,
And we cheered up our spirits by letting some down.
When I got her snug into a corner
And the whiskey beginning to warm her;
She told me her sweetheart was an informer,
Oh, ‘twas then I said prayers for my stick.

We got whiskificated to such a degree,
For support my poor Kate had to lean against me;
I promised to see her safe to her abode,
By the tarnal, we fell clean in the mud on the road.
We were roused by the magistrate’s order
Before we could get a toe further –
Surrounded by peelers for murther,
Was myself and my innocent stick.

When the trial came on, Kate swore to the fact
That before |I set to I was decently whacked;
And the Judge had a little more feeling than sense –
He said what I done was in my defence.
But one chap swore again me, named Carey,
(Though that night he was in Tipperary);
He’d swear a coal porter was a canary
To transport myself and my stick.

When I was acquitted I leaped from the dock,
And the gay fellows all round me did flock;
I’d a pain in my shoulder, I shook hands so often,
For the boys all imagined I’d see my own coffin.
I went and bought a gold ring, sir,
And Kate to the priest I did bring, sir;
So next night you come, I will sing, sir,
The adventure of my and my stick

Pat of Mullingar

They may talk of Flying Childers, and the speed of Harkaway,
Till the fancy it bewilders, as you list to what they say;
But for real bone and beauty, though to travel far and near,
The fastest mare you’ll find belongs to Pat of Mullingar.

She can trot along, jog along, drag a jaunting car,
No day’s so long, when you set along with Pat of Mullingar.

She was bred in Connemara, and brought up in Castlemaine,
She won cups at the Curragh, the finest baste on all the plain;
All the countries and conveyances she has been buckled to,
She lost an eye at Limerick and an ear at Waterloo

She can trot along, jog along, drag a jaunting car,
No day’s so long, when you set along with Pat of Mullingar.

If a friend you wish to find, sir, I’ll go wherever you want,
I’ll drive you out of your mind, sir, or a little way beyont;
Like an arrow through the air if you’ll step upon the car,
You’ll ride behind the little mare of Pat of Mullingar.

She can trot along, jog along, drag a jaunting car,
No day’s so long, when you set along with Pat of Mullingar.

To Dallymount or Kingstown, if the place you wish to see,
I’ll drive you to the Strawberry beds, it’s all the same to me:
To Donnybrook, whose ancient air is famed for love or war,
Or, if you have time to spare, we’ll go to Mullingar

She can trot along, jog along, drag a jaunting car,
No day’s so long, when you set along with Pat of Mullingar.

When on the road we’re going, the other Carmen try
(without the darlin’ knowing) to pass her on the sly;
Her one ear points up to the sky, she tucks her haunches in,
Then shows the lads how she can fly as I sit still and grin.

She can trot along, jog along, drag a jaunting car,
No day’s so long, when you set along with Pat of Mullingar.

Then should yez want a car, sirs, I hope you’ll not forget
Poor Pat of Mullingar, sirs, and his darlin’ little pet;
She’s as gentle as the dove, sirs, her speed you can’t deny,
And there’s no blind side about her, tho’ she hasn’t got an eye.

She can trot along, jog along, drag a jaunting car,
No day’s so long, when you set along with Pat of Mullingar.

Irish Music: An Introduction

Irish ballads and poetry can tell so much as you read them – just as all ballads can do. They are not just songs, words to music, you find the emotions, history and culture of a people in ballads, surname and placename spelling variations – sometimes very important to those who seek a place and can’t find the spelling they have anywhere.

The experts speak of how our ballads should be divided up into those that represent the old music – ballads with words in Irish – original, traditional – usually played to instruments for which it is difficult to re-arrange the music to modern instruments. They speak of the type of ballad that the Young Irelander’s wrote as being beyond the ordinary people, they speak of ballads written by others as also being ‘above’ the ordinary people and that some of these written by gentry fail to truly understand the way of the people.

Besides the various categories listed or indexed below, and based on what is said by the experts – Irish ballads can be further broken down – but this is not done so on this web site. There are the traditional ballads – perhaps only bardic in origin, but usually written in Irish, words that defy translation in some ways. Irish is a language that defies literal translation – I am neither an expert in the Irish language, or in Irish ballads – but I do know that the meanings I read into some ballads written in Irish is not the same as that given by the people who translate the Irish. This, perhaps, is because they are trying to come up with a translation that fits in with the music.

So, we have the very old and traditional ballads, we have ballads that may have originated in this group, but have been adapted down through the ages and may be county specific or may have been changed differently in each county. Then, we have the ballads that were written since those times, some written in Irish, some written in English – some in Ireland and some outside Ireland.

Many of the English (language) ballads have been written overseas – by Irish who left Ireland and who longed for Ireland and hoped to return some day. We also have ballads written by those who had never been to Ireland, whose ancestors came ‘from Ireland’, and yet, for whom the ways of the land, their understanding of Ireland, this longing for Ireland were all something that had ben handed down to them. One generation, two generations – how many generations – who knows.

It is possible to identify some of the ballads reproduced on these pages as being written by those who were no longer living in Ireland. It is possible to identify some of the traditional ballads that are sung in Ireland, but it is not possible to identify those ballads written by people who had never been to Ireland.

That is not to say that these are not Irish ballads – but they are a different form of Irish ballad. Ones that are not recorded by those who collect traditional tunes in Ireland, perhaps never to be recorded as ‘traditional’ Irish in Irish archives. There is much work going on in Ireland to save and record our traditional ballads/songs as sung by the Sean Nós singer, as played by the traditional musician. Is there any similar work being carried out any where else in the world to record the music of tradtional Irish musicians – those who do not live in Ireland, who have not been born in Ireland, who claim Irish descent and who play music handed down to them from their ancestors, or their community?

The ballads are grouped on these pages, attempts have been made to link in any ballad that mentions a place in Ireland to that county, to link those that speak of love on one page, and then those that speak of love of country on another. Yet, how does one really break down those two, so many ballads speak of both. The same for emigration – emigration, whether to leave, or just leaving, left, love of country left behind, here again, these fit into two groupings – emigration and love.

An attempt has been made to link in surnames and the places, to link places and counties – keeping all spellings as found in any ballad – retaining variations.