The Boys of Barr na Sráide

This well-known Irish song is based on a a poem written by Sigerson Clifford and is titled after the street of the same name  in Cahersiveen, County Kerry.

The poem tells the story of Clifford’s friends during the Black and Tan period and up to the Irish Civil War.  “Hunting for the wren” is an old Irish tradition on St. Stephen’s Day (December 26 – Wren Day).

Here it is sung by three Kerrymen, the young Padraig Ó Sé (of Dún Chaoin, Co. Kerry) with two masters, Seán Garvey and Tim Dennehy.

The Boys of Barr na Sráide

Oh the town, it climbs the mountain and looks upon the sea
At sleeping time or waking, ’tis there I’d long to be
To walk again that kindly street, the place where life began
And the Boys of Barr na Sráide went hunting for the wren

With cudgels stout they roamed about to hunt the dreólín
We searched for birds in every furze from Litir to Dooneen
We sang for joy beneath the sky, life held no print nor plan
And the Boys of Barr na Sráide went hunting for the wren

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Molly Malone


One of Ireland’s most well-known songs is also a ghost song. If you’ve never listened through to the last verse, you might not know. Here’s Sinéad O’Connor with this classic in a stripped-down version.

Molly Malone

In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheelbarrow through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels alive a-live O!

A-live a-live O! A-live a-live O!
Crying cockles and mussels alive a-live O!

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Amárach Lá ‘le Pádraic

On March 18th, 1835, a James Murphy was hanged for murder in Rosbercon, Co. Wexford (not too far from Clonmel). Whether this is the James Murphy who narrates this song, I am unsure, but it seems to fit the bill. Here’s a sean-nós song about this sad man’s last day on earth, sung by Eilís Ní Chonghaile.

Amárach Lá ‘le Pádraic

Amárach Lá ‘le Pádraic, an chéad lá den tseisiún
Is crua fuar an lá é – ní cruaichte é ná an chinniúint.
Tá na mionnaí ag tíocht anuas orm ‘s tá go leor leor dá gcruthú
Séard dúirt ceannfort na ndaoine uaisle gurb é an róipín mo chruthú.

‘S a dhriotháirín dhílis tabhair abhaile mo hata,
Mo stocaí ‘s mo bhróga ‘s mo chóitín donn daite.
Aithris do mo mháithrín atá le ráithe ar a leaba
Gurb é an róipín caol cnáibe atá in áit mo charabhata.

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