Images Of Ireland



Kilkelly Ireland

130 years after his great grandfather left the small village of Kilkelly in Co. Mayo, Peter Jones found a bundle of letters sent to him by his father in Ireland. The letters tell of family news, births, death, sales of land and bad harvests. They remind the son, that he is loved, missed and remembered by his family in Kilkelly
(A sad tale told in a series of letters between a father in Ireland and his son, John, who has emigrated to America.)

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 60, my dear and loving son John
Your good friend the schoolmaster Pat McNamara's
so good as to write these words down.
Your brothers have all gone to find work in England,
the house is so empty and sad
The crop of potatoes is sorely infected,
a third to a half of them bad.
And your sister Brigid and Patrick O'Donnell
are going to be married in June.
Your mother says not to work on the railroad
and be sure to come on home soon.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 70, dear and loving son John
Hello to your Mrs and to your 4 children,
may they grow healthy and strong.
Michael has got in a wee bit of trouble,
I guess that he never will learn.
Because of the dampness there's no turf to speak of
and now we have nothing to burn.
And Brigid is happy, you named a child for her
and now she's got six of her own.
You say you found work, but you don't say
what kind or when you will be coming home.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 80, dear Michael and John, my sons
I'm sorry to give you the very sad news
that your dear old mother has gone.
We buried her down at the church in Kilkelly,
your brothers and Brigid were there.
You don't have to worry, she died very quickly,
remember her in your prayers.
And it's so good to hear that Michael's returning,
with money he's sure to buy land
For the crop has been poor and the people
are selling at any price that they can.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 90, my dear and loving son John
I guess that I must be close on to eighty,
it's thirty years since you're gone.
Because of all of the money you send me,
I'm still living out on my own.
Michael has built himself a fine house
and Brigid's daughters have grown.
Thank you for sending your family picture,
they're lovely young women and men.
You say that you might even come for a visit,
what joy to see you again.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 92, my dear brother John
I'm sorry that I didn't write sooner to tell you that father passed on.
He was living with Brigid, she says he was cheerful
and healthy right down to the end.
Ah, you should have seen him play with
the grandchildren of Pat McNamara, your friend.
And we buried him alongside of mother,
down at the Kilkelly churchyard.
He was a strong and a feisty old man,
considering his life was so hard.
And it's funny the way he kept talking about you,
he called for you in the end.
Oh, why don't you think about coming to visit,
we'd all love to see you again.

recorded by Moloney, O'Connell & Keane on "Kilkelly" (1988)
copywrite Green Linnet Music 1983 Ireland.
The final letter informs him that his father, whom he has not seen for 30 years, has died, the last link with home is broken. Peter Jones used these letters to make this song.
The "trouble" in verse two is probably the rising of 1867.



Little Pub in London

In a little pub in London, Moriarty drank his beer
And recited wondrous stories of his exploits far and near.
"Sing an Irish song" said Kelly, "Best of order one and all"
Then Moriarty sang for them, 'The Hills of Donegal'.

There was cheering at the finish and they called Encore! Encore!
Moriarty said "Listen lads, I can't sing anymore".
He stood there sad and silent and gazed into his beer
And in his eyes there glistened, the starting of a tear.

"Are you going home for Christmas" the kindly barmaid said
Moriarty fixed his gazed on her and slowly shook his head.
"Sure I haven't been to Ireland for, twenty years or more
My mother would hardly know me, if I walked up to the door."

"I was born" said Moriarty "On an island off the west
The last place God created but the first place that he blessed.
We were poor but we were happy, in our simple little way,
My God, I wish I was a boy again, to live my youthful days."

"My Father, God be good to him, was drowned one woeful night
My Mother, left all lonesome and myself, to work and fight.
So with Donald Rue McCarty and young Michael Og O'Shea
I came across to England, to earn an honest pay."

"I told my dear old Mother, I'd soon be home again
But the curse-of-drink came over me and enslaved me in it's chain.
So I haven't been to Ireland now for, twenty years or more
But I know, she's still there waiting, for my footsteps at the door."

Then someone started singing, 'See Amid the Winter Snow'
It was like an old bell ringing, far away and long ago.
Moriarty stood and listened, then pushed his glass away
And he made a solemn promise, he'd go home for Christmas day.

So he scraped up every penny, he could get into his hand
And coming up to Christmas, he sailed for Ireland.
His heart was filled with gladness and he felt content at last
As the train rolled through the midlands and brought him to the west.

In the village of Kinshela, that night upon the shore
Far across the deep blue waters, he saw his island home once more.
The stars were shining brightly, sure they glistened like a dome
On that little white-washed cottage, that was Moriarty's home.

"Tis a grand night for the sailing" said the boatman Thomas Bawn
Moriarty didn't know him, for he'd been away so long
So they climbed into the bolleen and the boatman heard him say
"Thank God! Thank God in heaven, I'll be home for Christmas day."

In a little room in London, Moriarty's poor abode
On a table in the hallway, a message lay unread
The message said, "Dear Danny, your poor mother has passed away"
She'll be buried in Kinshela, after Mass, on Christmas day.

(Trad/Arr. Kerr) Outlet Music.

I hope this isn't a true story.
If you havn't been home for a while, please, don't let it be your story.

* Bolleen is a type of deep sea fishing craft.


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Owen Brennan
Copyright 1998 belongs with the original authors. All rights reserved.
Revised: July 28, 2002.