The Fields of Athenry

I first wrote this back in 2010. I have reposted it for our Irish Heritage Month – BloodSpite

Without a doubt this is my most favored Irish song. It’s not really traditional, having been written in the late 1970’s.

However, the story behind is as saddening as the lyrics.

More after the Jump

The music varies from artist to artist, but the words are what do it for me. It was written by Pete St. John in the 1970’s and is the unofficial song for Irelands Rugby team

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

Ireland's fields of Athenry as seen from the Keshcorran caves near CarrowkeelIt recounts the tale of a mythical Irishman in prison, reporting the story as he could hear through the prison walls of another prisoner who is being deported named Michael, who is caught stealing corn during The Great Famine from Charles Edward Trevelyan, a senior British civil servant in the administration of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in Dublin Castle.

As punishment for stealing to feed his family, he is sentenced to the Botany Bay prison Colony in Australia.

Lord Trevelyan had 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.

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

The rebels of Ireland also adpated a version of the song, changing the chorus slightly

Low lie the fields of Athenry

Where once we watched the small free birds fly

Hey baby let the free birds fly!

Our love was on the wing

Sinn Féin!

We had dreams and songs to sing

The IRA!

It’s so lonely ’round the fields of Athenry

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