Skibbereen, Co. Cork, the song; Irish Famine; Immigration

The Irish Song and Recitation Festival
From the Irish Roots Cafe at
With Your Host Mike O’Laughlin

Todays Song:  Skibbereen
Sung by:  Mike O’Laughlin
run time: 4:00

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The song is all about Skibereen and events,
in County Cork, Ireland, during the famine era.
It opens with a child asking his father why
he left Ireland, especially since he hears so
many good accounts of the country.
Skibbereen is well known historically for the
desolation wrought upon it during the famine
period in Ireland.  I believe there has been
commemorations of the same into recent

Famine Tragedy
The fathers reply continues to expand during
the song, including the potato blight; eviction
by the landlord; burning of the roof to the house;
the death of the childs mother; Rebelling against
the Queen; and the final escape from Skibbereen.
The final verse deals with justice to be dealt in
the future, for all the wrongs inflicted.

There are variations in the lyrics, some leave
off the last two stanzas, and minor changes in
the words here and there, but the song remains
true to its intentions.  You will also find the town
name spelled as Skibbereen and Skibereen.
Mikes lyrics are those used most often here at
the Irish Roots Cafe.

Style of this song
The singer today, our host Michael O’Laughlin,
does not model the style of this song on a particular artist past or present.

Though not at all as popular now
as in the past, and seldom heard in a live performance,
it is almost always done with musical accompaniment

Lyrics (one of several variations):

Oh father dear, I oft-times hear you speak of Erin’s isle
Her lofty hills, her valleys green, her mountains rude and wild
They say she is a lovely land wherein a saint might dwell
So why did you abandon her, the reason to me tell.

Oh son, I loved my native land with energy and pride
Till a blight came o’er the praties; my sheep, my cattle died
My rent and taxes went unpaid, I could not them redeem
And that’s the cruel reason why I left old Skibbereen.

Oh well do I remember that bleak December day
The landlord and the sheriff came to take us all away
They set my roof on fire with their cursed English spleen
I heaved a sigh and bade goodbye to dear old Skibbereen.

Your mother too, God rest her soul, fell on the stony ground
She fainted in her anguish seeing desolation ’round
She never rose but passed away from life to immortal dream
She found a quiet grave, me boy, in dear old Skibbereen.

And you were only two years old and feeble was your frame
I could not leave you with my friends for you bore your father’s name
I wrapped you in my cóta mór in the dead of night unseen
I heaved a sigh and bade goodbye to dear old Skibbereen.

Oh father dear, the day will come when in answer to the call
All Irish men of freedom stern will rally one and all
I’ll be the man to lead the band beneath the flag of green
And loud and clear we’ll raise the cheer, Revenge for Skibbereen!

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Hope you’ll be singing or listening in, to season 3,
on the Irish Song and Recitation Festival !

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Irish Video Shorts
Irish Song and recitation
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Irish Family History photo enhanced with links.

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About Mike

Mike is the worlds most published author in his field, with over 40 books, 700 articles, two newsletters, a blog, 200 podcasts and 170 videos. He also publishes rare books like "The Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters" and Keatings "History of Ireland". Mike also sings in the Irish (Gaeilge) Language, with 3 albums to his credit. Mike descends from the O’Loughlins of Kilfenora, County Clare, and the O’Donahues of Glenflesk, County Kerry and also bears Sullivan, Buckley, Kilmartin, Llewellyn and Kelliher roots. He has led tours to Ireland and maintains a 3,000 volume Irish library.
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