Kilkelly, Ireland

from St Patrick's Day by Marc Gunn

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about

Kilkelly, Ireland is one of the sadest Irish songs ever written. It tells the story of an Irish emigrant who moves to America, all through the eyes of is father back in Kilkelly. The story was based on some letters written by the Jones' great-great-grandfather.

lyrics

Kilkelly, Ireland, eighteen and sixty, my dear and loving son John
Your good friend and schoolmaster Pat McNamara so good as to write these words down.
Your brothers have all gone to find work in England, the house is all empty and sad
The crop of potatoes is sorely infected, a third to a half of them bad.
Your sister Bridget 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, eighteen and seventy, my dear and loving son John
Hello to your missus 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.
Bridget 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, eighteen and eighty, 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 Bridget 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 as fast as they can.

Kilkelly, Ireland, eighteen and ninety, my dear and loving son John
I suppose that I must be close on eighty, it’s thirty years since you’re gone.
Because of all of the money you sent me, I’m still living out on my own.
Michael has built himself a fine house and Bridget’s daughters have grown.
Thank you for sending your family pictures. 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, eighteen and ninety-two, my dear brother John
I’m sorry that I didn’t write sooner to tell you that father is gone.
He was living with Bridget, she says he was happy and healthy 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 at the end.
Oh, why don’t you think about coming to visit, what joy to see you again.

credits

from St Patrick's Day, released September 17, 2020
lyrics and music by Steven and Peter Jones

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Marc Gunn Atlanta, Georgia

Marc Gunn is a rhythm and folk musician inspired by Celtic culture, science fiction, fantasy, and cats--Sci F'Irish music.

He breathes new life into the autoharp, which continues to surprise musical veterans and fans alike for its unique sound and spirited energy. It’s like a satirical jam session between The Clancy Brothers and Weird Al Yankovic.
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