Posts Tagged “immigration”

Video Shorts at the Irish Roots Cafe #16.
Skibbereen, a tale of famine and troubles
from our house band Sean Nós Abú.

Launch of Irish Video Shorts, season two!
Today we resume our Irish Video Shorts
program. The first selections this season
are my Irish Song videos, to be followed
by Irish genealogy video shorts.

Here are my notes on todays Irish video:
Skibbereen, a tale of famine and troubles.
This song tells of the coming of the great
Irish famine and troubles that ensue.

It begins with a young boy asking his father
why they left Ireland. After all, he hears
it spoken of by his father in glowing terms
all the time.

The Reason Revealed
This opens a floodgate of descriptions
including the potato crop failure, eviction,
rebellion, and death of the childs mother.
It ends with the young man vowing to return
to Ireland, reclaiming his heritage at all

Considered the grandaddy of all famine songs
actually written near the famine era, it has
become a favorite here at the Irish Roots
Cafe. (note: Kilkelly, another favorite song,
tells of a later Irish famine, and was written
in the last half of the 20th century.)

Watch and listen to Skibbereen on our iTunes video
podcast channel here, for free:

For all of our podcast channels see the
iTunes Irish Provider Page (click below):
Here are the lyrics that I use to sing this song:

Oh, Father dear, I oft times hear you talk of Erin’s Isle,
Her lofty scenes, her valleys green, her mountains rude and wild
They say it is a pretty place where in a prince might dwell,
Oh, then why did you abandon it, the reason do me tell?

Oh, son I loved my native land with energy and pride
‘Til a blight came upon my crops, and the sheep and cattle died,
The rent and taxes were so pay, I could not them redeem,
And that’s the cruel reason why, I left old Skibbereen.

Oh, It’s well I do remember, that cold December day,
The landlord and the sheriff came, to drive us all away
They set my roof on fire, with their demon yellow spleen
And that’s another reason why I left old Skibbereen.

Your mother too, God rest her soul, fell on the snowy ground,
She fainted o’er in anguish, desolation all around.
She did not rise, but passed away, from life to immortal dream,
She found a quiet grave, my 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
and heaved a sigh, and said goodbye, to dear old Skibbereen

Its well I do remember, the year of ’48
When erins sons they rose again
to battle against their fate
I was hunted through the mountains
as a traitor to the queen
And thats another reason why
I left old Skibbereen.

Oh father dear, the day will come when vengeance loud will call
and Erins sons will rally round, together one and all
and I will be the man to lead the van, beneath the flag of green
And loud and high we’ll raise the cry,
Revenge for Skibbereen!


   The #1 Celtic band in the U.S. on RN (4/25/2012)
  We have singers who specialize in Sean Nós Song,
  as well Irish Ballads in the English Language.
  Check out our band page on Reverbnation
  by clicking the picture on the left !

   Our ‘band’ name is set up as ‘Sean Nós Abu’
   Sean Nós means ‘old style’. Abu is a war cry !
   We are the house band for the Irish Roots Cafe

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Comments Comments Off on Irish Video Skibbereen, a tale of the famine and troubles

Genealogy and Family History Myth #2
We were Great Irish Famine Immigrants.
Learn more at

Click here for my Irish Famine podcasts

Grandaddy of Irish famine songs here ‘Skibbereen (1847…)

Later ‘famine’ famine song here ‘Kilkelly’ (1860…)

The Famine Immigrants
For 30 years, thousands have explained to me
what they know of their own family history. Often
it goes like this:

“We know grandpa’s name, but he never talked about
anything so we don’t really know anything else.. but
we know we were famine immigrants .. So whenever
that famine was, that was when we came over.”

Family members take note:

1) Famines were fairly common in Ireland. The crop
failed several times in the 1800’s, both before and
after the famine, to say nothing of famines in the
centuries prior. So, saying they came over during
the famine might not provide a date for you. ( Though
it can be a good starting point).

2) The ‘Great Irish Famine’ period runs from about
1845-1852, and that includes not only famine, but
the resulting disease that the people suffered through.
1847 seems to be the worst of it.
A song that records the trials of the famine, as well
as the immigrants who went abroad is ‘Skibbereen’.
(see the song link at the top of this post).
A song that notes continuing troubles and failure
of the crop, and immigration from 1860-1890 is
‘Kilkelly”. (see the song at the top of this post).

Take your pick, it is a sad story, and makes
you wonder how an immigrant could smile at all….

3) Many people who lived through the ‘Great Famine’,
did not leave Ireland until after the famine was over.
This also makes the date of immigration vague.

4) Though many records are destroyed, the set of
books and online records for the famine immigrants
at the Port of New York, can be very helpful.

5) As often is the case, it’s not what grandpa said
that will help you, it is where his name was put
down in writing in records ! …and even more
so for your gr gr grandfather on back….

For those interested in more information on the famine:
My two free podcasts on the famine from our Hedgerow
History series are given at the top of this blog.
©2012 IGF
About Your Host
Mike O’Laughlin
Mike is the most published author in his field, with
books; newsletters; podcasts; and videos at:
Worlds Leading audio source for Irish Genealogy
~ with 7 Broadcast series & 300 episodes ~
The Irish Roots Cafe (Celtic) band, ‘Sean Nós Abu !’
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Contact us
Reach the Irish Roots Cafe on Twitter; Facebook;
Reverbnation;; and by mail at:
The Irish Roots Cafe
Box 7575
Kansas City, Missouri 64116
©2012 IGF

Comments Comments Off on Irish Genealogy Myth #2 We were Famine Immigrants