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Folk Notes 2 - The Fields of Athenry

The Fields Of Athenry

By a lonely prison wall,

I heard a young girl calling

Michael they have taken you away,

For you stole Trevelyan's corn

So the young might see the morn,

Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay


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


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 cut me down

Now you must raise our child with dignity


By a lonely harbour wall

She watched the last star falling

As the prison ship sailed out against the sky

For she lived in hope and pray

For her love in Botany Bay

It's so lonely round the Fields Of Athenry


"The Fields of Athenry" is an Irish folk ballad set during the Great Irish Famine or Great Irish Hunger about a fictional man named Michael from near Athenry in County Galway who has been sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay, Australia, for stealing food for his starving family. It is a widely known and popular anthem for Irish sports supporters.

"The Fields of Athenry" was written in the 1970s by Pete St. John. A claim was made in 1996 that a broadsheet ballad published in the 1880s had similar words; however, the folklorist and researcher John Moulden found no basis to this claim, and Pete St. John has stated that he wrote the words as well as the music

©Jeff Guess 2017

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