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A Bunch of Shamrocks

Word count: 3217

Song Cycle by Alicia Adélaïda Needham (1863 - 1945)

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1. God of this Irish Isle [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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God of this Irish isle !
Blessed and old,
Wrapp'd in the morning's smile
In the sea's fold
Here, where Thy saints have trod
Here, where they pray'd
Hear me, O saving God !
May I be saved ?

God of the circling sea !
Far-rolling and deep
Its caves are unshut to Thee,
Its bounds Thou dost keep
Here, from this strand,
Whence saints have gone forth
Father ! I own Thy hand,
Humbled to earth.

God of this blessed light
Over me shining !
On the wide way of right
I go, unrepining.
No more despising
My lot or my race,
But toiling, uprising,
To Thee through Thy grace.


Confirmed with The poems of Thomas D'Arcy McGee. With copious notes. Also an introd. and biographical sketch, London, D. & J. Sadlier, pages 204-205.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. Killiney far away [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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To Killiney far away flies my fond heart night and day, 
To ramble light and happy through its fields and dells, 
For here life smiles in vain, and earth's a land of pain, 
While all that's bright in Erin in Killiney dwells. 

In Killiney in the West has a linnet sweet her nest, 
And her song makes all the wild birds in the green wood dumb;
To the captive without cheer, it were freedom but to hear 
Such sorrow-soothing music from her fair throat come. 

[ ... ]
Through Killiney's meadows pass, on their way to early Mass, Like twin stars 'mid the grass, two small feet bare; And angel-pure the heart, where the murmured Aves start On their wingéd way to Heaven from the chapel there. The pride of Irish girls is the dear brown head of curls, The pearl white of pearls, stoirin bàn mo chroidhe; As bright-browed as the dawn, and as meek-eyed as the fawn, And as graceful as the swan gliding on to sea.
[ ... ]
Soon Killiney will you weep -- for I'll know not rest nor sleep, Till swiftly o'er the deep I with white sails come, To win the linnet sweet, and the two white twinkling feet, And the heart with true love beating, to my far-off home. And O! farewell to care, when the rose of perfume rare, And the dear brown curling hair on my proud breast lie; Then Killiney far away, never more by night or day, To thy skies, or dark or grey, shall my fond heart fly.

Confirmed with Irish Songs and Poems by Francis A. Fahy, Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son, 1887. Pages 95 - 96.


Submitted by Melanie Trumbull

3. The little red lark [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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The little red lark is shaking his wings, 
Straight from the breast of his love he springs, 
Listen the lilt of the song he sings, 
All in the morning early, O. 

The sea is rocking a cradle, hark! 
To a hushing-song, and the fields are dark, 
And would I were there with the little red lark, 
All in the morning early, O. 

The beard of barley is old-man's-gray, 
All green and silver the new-mown hay, 
The dew from his wings he has shaken away, 
All in the morning early, O. 

The little red lark is high in the sky, 
[No]1 eagle soars where the lark may fly, 
Where are you going to, high, so high?  
All in the morning early, O. 

His wings and his feathers are sunrise-red,  
He hails the sun and his golden head:
Good-morrow, sun, you are long abed, 
All in the morning early, O.  

I would I were [where]2 the little red lark 
Up in the dawn like a rose-red spark,  
[Sheds the day on the fields so dark]3,
All in the morning early, O.


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Confirmed with Katharine Tynan, The Wind in the Trees: A Book of Country Verse, London: Grant Richards, 1898, pages 31-32.

1 Needham: "An"
2 Needham: "with"
3 Needham: "I would I were with the little red lark"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator] and Melanie Trumbull

4. Your Father's Boreen [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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O! don't be beguilin' my heart with your wilin', 
You've tried that same thrick far too often before, 
And by this blessed minnit an' day that is in it, 
I'll take right good care that you'll try it no more! 
You thought that so slyly you walked with O'Reilly, 
By man and by mortal unheard and unseen, 
While your hand he kept squeezin',  and you looked so pleasin,'  
Last Saturday night in your father's boreen. 

[ ... ]
[And 'tis]1 most ungrateful, unkind, and unfaithful, When you very well know how I gave the go-by, Both to pride and to pleasure, temptation, and treasure, To dress all my looks by the light of your eye. O! 'tis Mary Mullaly, that lives in the valley, 'Tis she that would say how ill-used I have been, And she's not the deludher to smile and to soother, And then walk away to her father's boreen. I send you [your garter, for now I'm a martyr]2, And keepsakes and jims are the least of my care, So when things are exchangin', since you took to rangin' I'll trouble you, too, for the lock of my hair. [I know by its shakin', my heart is a-breakin']3, You'll make me a corpse when I'd make you a queen, But as sure as I'm livin', it's you I'll be givin' A terrible fright, when I haunt the boreen!

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with The Ballads of Ireland, Volume II, London, Edinburgh and Dublin: A. Fullarton & Co., 1857, pages 307-308.

1 Needham: "Och! it is"
2 Needham: "each token, for now my heart's broken"
3 Needham: "I know by my shakin', an' thrimblin' an' achin' "

Submitted by Melanie Trumbull

5. Dark Rosaleen [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English after the Irish (Gaelic)

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O my Dark Rosaleen,
  Do not sigh, do not weep!
The priests are on the ocean green,
  They march along the deep.
There 's wine from the royal Pope,
  Upon the ocean green;
And Spanish ale shall give you hope,
  My Dark Rosaleen!
  My own Rosaleen!
Shall glad your heart, shall give you hope,
Shall give you health, and help, and hope,
  My Dark Rosaleen!

[ ... ]
Woe and pain, pain and woe, Are my lot, night and noon, To see your bright face clouded so, Like to the mournful moon. But yet [will I]2 rear your throne Again in golden sheen; 'Tis you shall reign, shall reign alone, My Dark Rosaleen! My own Rosaleen! 'Tis you shall have the golden throne, 'Tis you shall reign, and reign alone, My Dark Rosaleen!
[ ... ]
O, the Erne shall run red, With redundance of blood, The earth shall rock beneath our tread, And flames wrap hill and wood, And gun-peal and slogan-cry Wake many a glen serene, Ere you shall fade, ere you shall die, My Dark Rosaleen! My own Rosaleen! The Judgement Hour must first be nigh, Ere you can fade, ere you can die, My Dark Rosaleen!

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Needham: "The very heart within my breast/ Is wasted all for you, love!"
2 Needham: "I will"

Submitted by Melanie Trumbull

6. Pictures of Ireland [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Do you ever hear the blackbird in the thorn,
Or the skylark rising warbling in the morn,
With the white mists o'er the meadows,
Or the cattle in the shadows
Of the willows by the borders of a stream?
Do you ever see old Ireland in a dream?
[A many a time, a many a time.]1

[ ... ]
'Tis not written that the Irish race forget, Though the tossing seas between them roll and fret, Yea, the children of the Gael Turn to far-off Innisfail And remember her, and hope for her, and pray That her long, long night may blossom into day, A many a time, a many a time. Did your mother by your cradle ever croon For lullaby some sweet old Irish tune? Did an Irish love-song's art Ever steal into your heart, Or Irish war-chant make your pulses thrill? Do haunting harps yet sound from Tara's hill? A many a time, a many a time.
[ ... ]

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Confirmed with Joseph Ignatius Constantius Clarke, The Fighting Race and other Poems and Ballads, New York: American News Company, 1911. Pages 19 - 21.

1 Needham: "Ah! many, many a time, many a time!", passim., i.e., at the end of each stanza.

Submitted by Melanie Trumbull

7. The Woman of Three Cows [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English after the Irish (Gaelic)

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O, Woman of Three Cows, agragh! don't let your tongue thus rattle! 
O, don't be saucy, don't be stiff, because you may have cattle. 
[I have]1 seen  --  and, here's my hand to you, I only say what's true  --  
[A]2 many a one with twice your stock not half so proud as you.  

Good luck to you, don't scorn the poor, and don't be their despiser,  
For worldly wealth soon melts away, and cheats the very miser,  
And Death soon strips the proudest wreath from haughty human brows; 
Then don't be stiff, and don't be proud, good Woman of Three Cows!  

See where Momonia's heroes lie, proud Owen More's descendants, 
'Tis they that won the glorious name, and had the grand attendants!  
If they were forced to bow to Fate, as every mortal bows,  
Can you be proud, can you be stiff, my Woman of Three Cows!   

[ ... ]
O'Ruark, Maguire, those souls of fire, whose names are shrined in story -- Think how their high achievements once made Erin's greatest glory -- [Yet now their bones lie mouldering under weeds and cypress boughs, And so, for all your pride, will yours, O, Woman of Three Cows!]3 [The O'Carrolls also, famed when Fame was only for the boldest, Rest in forgotten sepulchres with Erin's best and oldest;]3 [Yet]4 who so great as they of yore in battle or carouse? Just think of that, and hide your head, good Woman of Three Cows! Your neighbour's poor, and you, it seems, are big with vain ideas, Because, inagh! you've got three cows, one more, I see, than she has. That tongue of yours wags more at times than Charity allows, But, if [you are]5 strong, be merciful, great Woman of Three Cows! Now, there you go! You still, of course, keep up your scornful bearing, And I'm too poor to hinder you; but, by the cloak I'm wearing, If I had but four cows myself, even though you were my spouse, I'd thwack you well to cure your pride, my Woman of Three Cows!

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with The Irish Penny Journal, ublin: printed and published by Gunn & Cameron, 1840. Saturday, August 29, 1840: Volume I, number 9. Page 69.

1 Needham: "I've"
2 Needham: "There's"
3 omitted by Needham.
4 Needham: "Yes,"
5 Needham: "you're"

Submitted by Melanie Trumbull

8. The sweet o' the year [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Because it is the sweet o' the year,
There's white and yellow on vale and hill,
The blackbird sings at his darling's ear,
He has gotten a new gold bill.

When birds are merry and have good cheer,
And roses nod in the garden bow'r,
Oh, then it is the sweet o' the year,
And love and the world in flower!

Come, lads and lasses, gamesome and glad,
With flute and tabor come dance and sing,
Come gather honey, Oh lass and lad,
While the merry year's at the spring. 

For now comes in the sweet o' the year,
The sweet o' the year that tarries for none,
There comes high Summer, and Autumn sere,
And the year is over and done.

Come, gather honey, Oh lad and lass,
The sweet o' the year is our portion once,
And he who nods while the gold hours pass,
'Tis he is dullard and dunce.

For now comes in the sweet o' the year,
The birds are kissing on vale and hill,
The thrush has got a new song for his dear,
And the blackbird a new gold bill.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator] and Guy Laffaille [Guest Editor] and Melanie Trumbull

9. Peace be around thee [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Peace be around thee, wherever thou rovest;
May life be for thee one summer's day,
And all that thou wishest, and all that thou lovest,
Come smiling around thy sunny way!
If sorrow e'er this calm should break,
May even thy tears pass off so lightly;
Like [spring-showers]1, they'll only make
The smiles that follow shine more brightly!

May Time, who sheds his blight o'er all,
And daily dooms some joy to death,
[O'er]2 thee let years so [gently]3 fall
They shall not crush one flower beneath!
As half in shade and half in sun,
This world along its path advances,
May that side the sun's upon
Be all that e'er shall meet thy glances!


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Needham: "sweet spring show'rs"
2 Needham: "On"
3 Needham: "lightly"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator] and Guy Laffaille [Guest Editor] and Melanie Trumbull

10. The stile in the lane [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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There's a lane down by the river, 
Where the cuckoos soonest call, 
'Tis the loveliest place in Ireland
When the evening shadows fall; 
But for fear of ghosts or fairies, 
Faith! I dare not wander through, 
Without someone to mind me, 
Oh! colleens dear, could you? 

There's a stile beside a meadow
In the middle of the lane, 
Such an awkward, dear old stile it is,
I try to climb in vain, 
Until someone helps me over 
To a cosy seat for two; 
I could linger there for ever, 
Oh! girls dear, couldn't you?  

There's a meadow deck'd with daisies, 
Not a step beyond the stile, 
Where the blithe song of the blackbird 
Could the heart of care beguile; 
But I never yet could listen, 
Tho' he whistled all he knew, 
For someone whisper'd all the time, 
Now, colleens dear, could you? 

There's a chapel clad in ivy, 
Oh! as sweet as you could see, 
And there, he says, next Sunday
I must promise his to be; 
In the face of all the people
I will find it hard to do, 
But I'll try my best to please him, 
Oh! girls dear, wouldn't you?


Submitted by Melanie Trumbull

11. Fan Fitzger'l [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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Wirra, wirra ollogone!
Can’t ye lave a lad alone,
Till he’s proved there’s no tradition left of any other girl –
Not even Trojan Helen,
In beauty all excellin’ – 
Who’s been up to half the divelment of Fan Fitzgerl?

Wid her brows of silky black
Arched above for the attack,
Her eyes dart such azure death on poor admirin’ man;
Masther Cupid, point your arrows,
From this out, agin the sparrows,
For your bested at love’s archery by young Miss Fan.

See what showers of golden thread
Lift and fall upon her head,
The likes of such a trammel-net at say was niver spread;
For whin accurately reckoned,
‘Twas computed that each second
Of her curls has cot a Kerryman and kilt him dead.

Now mintion, if ye will,
Brandon Mount and Hungry Hill,
Or Ma’g’llicuddy’s Reeks for cripplin’ all they can;
Still the countryside confisses
None of all its precipices
Cause a quarther of the carnage of the nose of Fan.

But your shatthered hearts suppose
Safely steered apast her nose
She’s a current and a reef beyant to wreck them rovin’ ships.
My maning it is simple,
For that current is her dimple,
And the cruel reef ‘twill coax ye to’s her coral lips.

I might inform ye further
Of her bosom’s snowy murther,
And an ankle ambuscadin’ through her gown’s delightful whirl;
But what need, when all the village
Has forsook its peaceful tillage 
And flown to war and pillage – all for Fan Fitzgerl!


Submitted by Mike Pearson

12. Salutation to the Celts [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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Hail to our Celtic brethren wherever they may be,
In the far woods of Oregon, or o'er the Atlantic Sea,
Whether they guard the banner of St. George in Indian vales,
Or spread beneath the nightless North experimental sails --
One in name and in fame are the sea-divided Gaels.

Though fallen the state of Erin, and changed the Scottish land,
Though small the power of Mona, though unwaked Lewellyn's band, 
Though Ambrose Merlin's prophecies degenerate to tales,
And the cloisters of Iona are bemoan'd by northern gales -- 
One in name and in fame are the sea-divided Gaels.

In Northern Spain and Brittany our brethren also dwell,
Oh, brave are the traditions of their fathers that they tell;  
The eagle and the crescent in the dawn of history pales  
Before their fire, that seldom flags, and never wholly fails --
One in name and in fame are the sea-divided Gaels.

A greeting and a promise unto them all we send;
Their character our charter is, their glory is our end; 
Their friend shall be our friend, our foe whoe'er assails  
The past or future honors of the far-dispersed Gaels:
One in name and in fame are the sea-divided Gaels.


Confirmed with The Poems of Thomas d'Arcy McGee, New York: D. & J. Sadlier & Co., 1886, pages 135-136.


Submitted by Melanie Trumbull

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