Old Skibereen

I’ve recently been reacquainted with this beautifully sad famine song. Sinead O’Connor‘s version once again is so heart-felt and passionate.

The first known publication of the song was in a 19th-century publication, The Irish Singer’s Own Book (Noonan, Boston, 1880), where the song was attributed to Patrick Carpenter, a poet and native of Skibbereen. It was published in 1915 by Herbert Hughes who wrote that it had been collected in County Tyrone, and that it was a traditional song. – Wikipedia

Old Skibereen

O, father dear I often hear you speak of Erin’s Isle
Her lofty scenes, her valleys green, her mountains rude and wild
They say it is a lovely land wherein a prince might dwell
So why did you abandon it, the reason to me tell

My son, I loved my native land with energy and pride
Till a blight came over all my crops and my sheep and cattle died
The rents and taxes were to pay and I could not them redeem
And that’s the cruel reason why I left old Skibbereen

‘Tis well I do remember that bleak November day
When the bailiff and the landlord came to drive us all away
They set the roof on fire with their cursed English spleen
And that’s another reason why I left old Skibbereen

Your mother, too, God rest her soul, lay on the snowy ground
She fainted in her anguishing seeing the desolation round
She never rose, but passed away from life to immortal dreams
And that’s another reason why I left old Skibbereen

Then sadly I recall the days of gloomy forty-eight.
I rose in vengeance with the boys to battle again’ fate.
We were hunted through the mountains as traitors to the queen,
And that, my boy, is the reason why I left old Skibbereen.

Oh you were only two years old and feeble was your frame
I could not leave you with my friends for you bore your father’s name
So I wrapped you in my cóta mór at the dead of night unseen
And I heaved a sigh and I said goodbye to dear old Skibbereen

Well father dear, the day will come when on vengeance we will call
And Irishmen both stout and tall will rally unto the call
I’ll be the man to lead the van beneath the flag of green
And loud and high we’ll raise the cry, “Revenge for Skibbereen!”

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