Monday, June 13, 2005


Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

" The Great Irish Famine " (1845-1851) was the result of a blight which caused successive crops of potatoes to fail. Combined with centuries of English racist policies towards the Irish Catholics & the " Clearances" & evictions which continued during the famine and the callous "laissez faire" attitude of the English only made a serous problem into a catastrophe. England at the time was the richest & most powerful country in the world yet had little sympathy for the staring Irish . The English dug in their heels & did as little as possible to alleviate the situation which led to one and a half million deaths and a similar number of desperate Irish forced to Emigrate to America & Canada. While thousands over the years before the famine were arrested for minor crimes to be sent to the prison colony of Australia for years of hard-labour & many were sentenced for life. Was this Genocide possibly it was, at the least, a passive form of "Ethnic Cleansing ".

Note: At a later date I will discuss the " Highland Clearances " of Scotland.

Anyway here a couple of poems & songs about the event.

Fields of Athenry by Pete St. John

By a lonely prison wall, I heard a young girl calling
"Michael, they have taken you away,
For you stole Travalient's(?) corn,
So the young might see the morn.
Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay."

Low lie the fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly
Our love was on the wing
We had dreams and songs to sing
It's so lonely round the fields of Athenry.

By a lonely prison wall, I heard a young man calling
"Nothing matters, Mary, when you're free
Against the famine and the crown,
I rebelled, they cut me down.
Now you must raise our child with dignity."
By a lonely harbor wall, she watched the last star fall
As the prison ship sailed out against the sky
For she lived to hope and pray for her love in Botany Bay
It's so lonely round the fields of Athenry.

All in the Family Way
by Thomas Moore ( 1779-1852) Irish Poet & Lyricist

(Sung in the character of "Britannia")

["The Public Debt is owed from ourselves to ourselves and resolves itself into a Family Account" - Sir Robert Peel's Letter]

(Tune -- My banks are all furnish'd with bees)

My banks are all furnished with rags,
So thick, even Freddy can't thin 'em;
I've torn up my old money-bags,
Having little or nought to put in 'em.
My tradesman are smashing by dozens,
But this is all nothing, they say;
For bankrupts, since Adam, are cousins,
So, it's all in the family way.

My Debt not a penny takes from me,
As sages the matter explain;
Bob owes it to Tom and then Tommy
Just owes it to Bob back again.
Since all have thus taken to owing,
There's nobody left that can pay;
And this is the way to keep going,
All quite in the family way.

My senators vote away millions,
To put in Prosperity's budget;
And though it were billions or trillions,
The generous rogues wouldn't grudge it.
'Tis all but a family hop,
'Twas Pitt began dancing the hay;
Hands round! -- why the deuce should we stop?
'Tis all in the family way.

My labourers used to eat mutton,
As any great man of the State does;
And now the poor devils are put on
Small rations of tea and potatoes.
But cheer up John, Sawney and Paddy,
The King is your father, they say;
So ev'n if you starve for your Daddy,
'Tis all in the family way.

My rich manufacturers tumble,
My poor ones have nothing to chew;
And, even if themselves do not grumble,
Their stomachs undoubtedly do.
But coolly to fast en famille,
Is as good for the soul as to pray;
And famine itself is genteel,
When one starves in a family way.

I have found out a secret for Freddy,
A secret for next Budget day;
Though, perhaps he may know it already,
As he, too, 's a sage in his way.
When next for the Treasury scene he
Announces "the Devil to pay",
Let him write on the bills, "Nota bene,
'Tis all in the family way."

The song " The Wind That Blows The Barley" written by Dr. Robert Dwyer Joyce ( 1830-1883) refers to the rebellion of 1798. He was a professor of English Literature at Catholic University in Dublin. In danger of arrest for rebel activities, Joyce fled to the United States. He later returned to Ireland and died in Dublin in 1883.

The Wind That Blows The Barley

I sat within the valley green
I sat me with my true love
My sad heart strove the two between
The old love and the new love
The old for her, the new that made me
Think on Ireland dearly
While soft the wind blew down the glen
And shook the golden barley

Twas hard the woeful words to frame
To break the ties that bound us
But harder still to bear the shame
Of foreign chains around us
And so I said, "The mountain glen
I'll seek at morning early
And join the bold United Men"
While soft winds shook the barley

Sad I kissed away her tears
Her arms around me flinging
The foeman's shot burst on our ears
From out the wildwood ringing
The bullet pierced my true love's heart
In life's young spring so early
And there upon my breast she died
While soft winds shook the barley

I bore her to a mountain stream
And many's the summer blossom
I placed with branches soft and green
Around her gore-stained bosom
I wept and kissed her clay cold corpse
Then rushed o'er hill and valley
My vengeance on the foe to wreak
While soft winds shook the barley

It's blood for blood without remorse
I took at Oulart Hollow
And laid my true love's clay cold corpse
Where mine full soon may follow
Around her grave I wander drear
Noon, night and morning early
With breaking heart whene'er I hear
The wind that shakes the barley

See website:

& Gaughan’s Song Archive

The Merry Ploughboys Website

Paul Dunne’s site A History of Ireland in Song

& Vincent Peters’ TRISKELLE
History Of Ireland etc.

All the best,

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