Saturday, March 17, 2007

Éireann go Brách

Information from the County Mayo site-

The "Kilkelly Ireland Song" now a famous ballad, draws its inspiration from a series of ten surviving letters written on behalf of Byran and Elizabeth Hunt by the local school master to their emigrant son in America. John Hunt emigrated to the States in 1855 and the letters written to him by his parents were re-discovered in an attic in Bethesda Maryland by his American descendants. Some 120 years after they were written, Peter Jones a great, great grandson of John Hunt, composed the ballad based on the contents of the letters.

- - -

Kilkelly, Ireland,
eighteen and sixty,
My dear and loving Son, John,
Your friend, schoolmaster Pat McNamara,
so good as to write these words down.
Your brothers have all gone to find work in England,
the house is so empty inside.
The crop of potatoes is sorely infected,
a third to a half of them bad.
And your sister Bridget and Patrick O'Donell
are going to be married in June.
Your mother says not to work on the railroad,
and be sure to come on home soon.

Kilkelly, Ireland,
eighteen and seventy,
my dear and loving Son, John,
hello to your missus and to your four children,
may they grow healthy and strong.
Michael has got in a wee bit of trouble,
I suppose that he never will learn.
Because of the dampness there's no turf to speak of,
and now we have nothing to burn.
Bridget is happy you named a child for her,
although she's got six of her own.
You say you found work but you don't say what kind,
or when you'll be coming home.

Kilkelly, Ireland,
eighteen and eighty,
Dear Michael and John, my sons,
I'm sorry to give you the very sad news
that your dear old mother has gone.
We buried her down at the church in Kilkelly,
your brothers and Bridget were there.
You don't have to worry, she died very quickly.
Remember her in your prayers.
And it's so good to hear that Michael's returning,
with money he's sure to buy land.
For the crop has been poor, and the people are selling,
at any price that they can.

Kilkelly, Ireland,
eighteen and ninety,
My dear and loving Son, John,
I suppose I must be close on eighty,
it's thirty years since you gone.
Because of all of the money you sent me
I'm still living out on my own.
Michael has built himself a fine house,
and Bridget's daughters are grown.
Thank you for sending your family picture,
they're lovely young women and men.
You say you might even come for a visit,
what joy to see you again!

Kilkelly, Ireland,
eighteen and ninety-two,
My dear brother, John,
I'm sorry I didn't write sooner to tell you
that Father passed on.
He was living with Bridget,
she says he was cheerful
and healthy right down to the end.
Oh, you should have seen him playing with grandchildren
of Pat McNamara, your friend.
And we buried him alongside of Mother,
down at Kilkelly churchyard.
He was a strong and a feisty old man,
considering his life was so hard.
And it's funny the way he kept talking about you,
he called for you at the end.
Oh, why don't you think about coming to visit?
We'd all love to see you again.


Joey Polanski said...

My whole life woud be validated,

If my whole crappy blog were balladated.

Colonel Colonel said...

Another beer,
will bring you cheer,
But if life is still disturbin'-
then don't delay,
heed what I say-
and pour yourself a bourbon.

Mike said...

and it brings a tear to me eye it does.

Colonel Colonel said...

Mike- Moloney, O'Connell & Keane do a version of this that will have everyone bawling.

anaglyph said...

No wonder they drink.

catalyst said...

It is a fine old verse and takes me back to days I spent hanging out with Irish immigrants in a pub back in the late 60's/early 70's, listening to their stories and their songs. And, of course, sharin' a wee bit of the evenin' dew with 'em.

Colonel Colonel said...

Reverend. No kidding. And then we drink to feel solidarity. Or at least, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Catalyst- well, you had to be neighborly, right?