The Ballad of Patrick Murphy

One hundred and three years ago today, the fisherman Patrick Murphy of Passage West Co. Cork was shot by a local bailiff.  To commemorate the 100th anniversary in 2011, Cork singer/songwriter John Spillane composed this ballad.  At first the song was about hatred and blame, but as Spillane describes, he worked through that in the writing, and in the end the song is about peace and reconciliation.

The Ballad of Patrick Murphy.

They lived beside the river
At the turning of the tide
They lived beside the river
By the river they lived and they died

Patrick Murphy was a fisherman, and a gentleman, and a good man,
In the town of Passage West,
With a wife and seven children,
And he tended to his nets.

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An Spailpín Fánach

I heard a slightly different version of this song from the singing of Connie Dover, whose website describes it as “an early version of an Irish song that became one of America’s most widely known folk tunes. Known originally as ‘The Bard of Armagh,’ the melody migrated westward, evolving eventually into a popular song, ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me.'” This lively version is sung by Síle Denvir and Valerie Casey from Líadan.

A Spailpín Fánach

1. Is Spailpin aerach tréitheach mise is bígí soláthar mná dhom,
Mar a scaipfinn an síol faoi dhó san Earrach in éadan na dtaltaí bána,
Mar a scaipfinn an síol faoi dhó san Earrach in éadan na dtaltaí bána,
Mo lámha ar an gcéachta a’m i ndiaidh na gcapall
agus réapfainnse cnoic le fána.

2. Is an chéad lá in Éirinn dár liostáil mise, ó bhí mé súgach sásta,
Is an dara lá dár liostáil mise ó bhí mé buartha cráite,
Ach an tríú lá dár liostáil mise, thabharfainn cúig céad punt ar fhágáil,
Ach dtá dtugainn sin is ar oiread eile ní raibh mo phas le fáil agam.

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Dunlavin Green

The great Frank Harte relates the story behind Dunlavin Green and sings the ballad. The singing begins at 2:42 into the video.

Dunlavin Green

In the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety eight
A sorrowful tale the truth unto you I’ll relate
Of thirty-six heroes to the world were left to be seen
By a false information were shot on Dunlavin Green.

Bad luck to you Saunders, for you did their lives betray.
You said a parade would be held on that very day.
Our drums they did rattle – our fifes they did sweetly play.
Surrounded we were and privately marched away

Quite easy they led us like prisoners through the town
To be shot on the plain, we first were forced to kneel down.
Such grief and such sorrow were never before there seen
When the blood ran in streams down the dykes of Dunlavin Green

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