Brendan Mc Ewen

By a lonely prison wall, I heard a young girl calling
"Michael they are taking you away,
For you stole Travellyn'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 ran me down.
Now you must raise our child with dignity."

By a lonely harbor wall, she watched the last star falling
As the prison ship sailed out against the sky.
Sure she'll wait and hope and pray for her love in Botany Bay,
Its so lonely round the fields of Athenry.


It has heartened the writer more than a little to hear the chorus of the above famine ballad being sung at Parkhead and at aways games of Glasgow Celtic.  Athenry, in East Galway suffered terribly in the great Famine of  1845-48.  It's always been the British view that the Famine was a natural disaster.  An Irish saying from the time stated that "God sent the hunger.  England sent the Famine!"  Throughout the period of the potato "blight" - where a mildew rotted potatoes in storage thus robbing the native Irish people of their only supply of food - the island of Ireland remained a net exporter of food, especially grain.  Right through the blight on the potatoes Ireland continued to export grain to British Cities.  This was no natural disaster.  It was man-made slaughter, hunger was used as a weapon of war against the rebellious Irish.  The 1798 rebellion was still living memory, although the British regime in Ireland had banned the mention of that fateful year, it was struck from the official records so that people would forget - that's why the republicans call "Who fears to speak of 98?"  The Famine worked in England's direct interests in Ireland in that time.  In 1845 the population of Ireland was approximately 8.5 million.  During the Famine years of 1845-51  it is estimated that about one million people died of starvation and more commonly - the diseases like typhus and cholera followed in it's wake killing people already weakened by malnourishment. (...) In 1841 Ireland had a population of 8.2 million, at the same time in England and Wales it was 16 million.  In 1976 the population of the whole of Ireland was 4.7 million, in England and Wales 50 million.  You don't need gas chambers for a holocaust.  England got fat while Ireland starved, there is nothing accidental about that, no "Act of God", no natural disaster.  It was a disaster but one of their making to suit their ends.  Sing the song, sing all our songs.  Today the fields around Athenry have only a shadow of the population that they could comfortably support, yet still the Free State Politicians bend the knee to the Brits and collaborate with big business in exporting Ireland's greatest resource - it's people.

this page is a part of Philipp's Home of the Free.


This page is a part of Philipp's Home Of The Free.