Lone Shanakyle

Old Shanakyle Cemetery

This is one of my very favorite recordings by Mary Dillon and Déanta. It is a masterful example of how a traditional song can be set in a “modern” arrangement and still retain all the feeling of an unaccompanied air.   The song was written by Thomas Madigan (c. 1860) and references Old Shanakyle (Shankill) Cemetery in Kilrush, Co. Clare.

Far, far from the isle of the holy and grand
Where wild oxen fatten and brave men are banned
All lonely and lone in a far distant land
Do I wander and pine for poor Éireann

Lonely and sad I roam far from my native home
Where the wild waves surging foam, headlands appearing
Clouded in silver spray, flashing through heaven’s bright ray
For thy glory and pride, lovely Éireann

Sweet, sweet Inis Cathaigh, the sacred, the blessed
Fit place for a saint or a warrior’s rest
Your sentinel towers left each storm repressed
Your mourning waves wail for my Éireann

There is nothing now left, holy isle, but thy name
The ruin of thy glory, thy grandeur, thy fame
For foreign laws see thy sadness and pain
That now cause thy anguish, my Éireann


How dearly I longed for to wander once more
To the loved ones I left at my old cabin door
My blessings I’d given a thousand times o’er
And a prayer and a tear for poor Éireann

Sad, sad is my fate in this weary exile
Dark, dark is the night cloud o’er lone Shanakyle
Where the murdered sleep silently pile upon pile
In the coffinless graves of poor Éireann



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