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This is an All Ireland Prize-Winning Ballad for 1983. It was composed by Tony Waldon, Kingsland, Athenry

“The Fields of Athenry”


Down by the C1aran’s mossy banks one evening I did stray

To while away those leisure hours before the close of day.

When my mind began to wander back to days long gone by,

When I roamed as free as gaoth na síogh o’er the Fields of Athenry.


Oh! how often with our dogs and sticks before the break of day,

Bare footed o’er the dew clad grass we carelessly did stray,

To hunt the rabbit and the hare ‘till the moon rose in the sky,

Oh! these were happy days we spent round the Fields of Athenry.


We had some famous hunting dogs, I ’ll mention but a few,

We had Speed and Spot and Rebel Brave we had noble Murry too,

But Brute he was the king of all as o’er the sod he’d fly,

And ’twas woe betide the hare that strayed round the Fields of Athenry.


The hunting done by the bright new moon our homeward track we’d make

Across the bogs to Poll Mhic Eoin by Cahertubber Lake,

And then we’d climb Cnockan-Cabhair, the lights of home to spy,

and hear the curlew’s plaintive call o’er the Fields of Athenry.


Now Cnockan-Cabhair, that fairy-hill, it is no longer there,

The gravel-trucks have hauled it off to Galway City fair,

To make concrete for foundations, and the fairies had to fly,

Before diggers and bulldozers in the Fields of Athenry.


All through the long hot Summer days through these green fields we’d stray,

The youthful blood coursed in our veins and death seemed far away,

We thought we were immortal, that it’s just the old that die,

But now there’s few of the friends I knew ‘round the Fields of Athenry


When the Great Good Lord will come for me and my final peace be made

On that hallowed hill above the town its there I will be laid,

But when the final judgement comes with its fanfare from the sky,

I will rise up then and hunt again through the Fields of Athenry.

At the All Ireland Festival, this ballad was sung, to music of his own composition, by Sean Flanagan, Craughwell. Sean is a famous Irish traditional musician, and ballad singer.

From the book – “Athenry, History from 1780, Folklore and Recollections” by Aggie Qualter, March 1989

Click on the Author’s name, below, to find more articles from Aggie Qualter’s book.

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Written by Aggie Qualter

Published here 15 May 2022

Page 0046 of Athenry History

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