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12.  The Fields of Athenry:

Words & music by Peter St. John

Bill Masino Lead vocal
Kathleen Mullaly Masino - Harmony vocals
Colin O'Brian - Acoustic Guitar

Thanks to the Bard Board, www.chivalry.com/bardboard/, and to the contributor, Andrew, for the information on this song. It is quoted from an article in The Glasgow Herald, 10 April 1996.

"The song was written in 1979 [by Peter St. John] and recorded by Paddy Reilly, whose best-selling single launched an album of the same name. However, over the past 17 years more than 400 cover versions have been made with conservative estimates on single sales put at five million. The song was based on a true story of the fate of one young couple during the Irish famine.

The song tells the story of Lord Trevelyan who brought a supply of corn back from America in a bid to battle starvation during the potato famine in the mid-nineteenth century. Unfortunately it was Indian corn too hard to be milled, so useless. However, local people thought it would save them and so broke into the stores, were arrested, and subsequently deported to Australia.

The song could be about anyone Scots, Irish, [or]English. It is about poor innocent people and how they are victims of natural disasters. It's easy to say why it's been so popular in Glasgow because in 1846, the year the song's set, over 150,000 Irishmen, women, and children fled to the city where many were treated with generosity. But I've heard the song sung everywhere from San Francisco to Melbourne."

 

Lyrics:

1) By a lonely prison wall
    I heard a young girl calling
    Michael they are taking you away
    For you stole Trevelyn's corn
    That the young might see the morn
    Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay

Chorus:

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

2) 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 put me down
    Now you must raise our child with dignity

    Chorus:

3) By a lonely harbour wall
    She watched the last star falling
    As the prison ship sailed out into the bay
    Sure she'll hope and cry and pray
    For her love in Botany Bay
    It's so lonely round the fields of Athenry

    Chorus:

By a [D]lonely prison wall, I [G]heard a young girl [D]cal- [A]ling
[D]"Michael, they have [G]taken you a-[A]way,
For you [D]stole Trevelyan's [G]corn,
So the [D]young might see the [A]morn.
Now a [Em]prison ship lies [A]waiting in the [D]bay."

[D]Low [G]lie the [D]fields of Athen-[Bm]ry
Where [D]once we watched the small free birds [A]fly
Our [D]love was on the [G]wing
We had [D]dreams and songs to [A]sing
It's so [Em]lonely round the [A]fields of Athen-[D]ry.

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