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I have a lot of songs about emigration in my repertoire, not so much because I like singing about it, but because there are so many fine ballads on the subject, I can't resist them. This one always strikes me as being different! Most emigration songs are highly subjective. The unfortunate hero sings of saying goodbye to sweetheart and country -- this one appears to have been written by a poet or ballad-maker who stands apart and views the subject objectively. For me this gives it a very modern feel. The late Eddie Butcher of Co. Derry sang a version of this song one day when I went to visit him. Subsequently I heard another version sung by Robin Morton and Cathal McConnell which they had from John Maquire of Co. Fermanagh.
I juggled the words about a bit, wrote a few more and put it to a tune of my own.
Andy Irvine, liner notes for "Folkfriends 2," FF 3003/4, 1981

Lyrics as performed by Andy Irvine & Dick Gaughan, reprinted in liner notes for "Folkfriends 2," FF 3003/4, 1981

You brave Irish people wherever you be,
I pray stand a moment and listen to me;
Your sons and fair daughters,
They are going away,
And thousands are sailing to Amerikay.

CHORUS: So good luck to those people
And safe may they land.
They are leaving their country
For a far distant strand.
They are leaving old Ireland,
No longer can stay,
And thousands are sailing to Amerikay.

The night before leaving
They are bidding goodbye,
And it's early next morning
Their hearts give a sigh.
They do kiss their mothers,
And then they will say,
"Goodbye, dearest father,
I am now going away."

Their friends and relations,
And neighbours also,
When the trunks they are packed up
All ready to go,
The tears from their eyes then
Are falling like rain,
And the horses are prancing
Going off for the train.

When they do reach the station
You will hear their last cry,
With handkerchiefs waving
And bidding goodbye,
Their hearts will be breaking
When leaving the shore.
So goodbye, dear old Ireland,
We will ne'er see you no more.

So pity the mother
Who rears up the child
And likewise the father
Who labours and toils.
To try to support them
He works night and day,
And when they are reared
They will go away.


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