Bard of Armagh


Oh, list to the lay of a poor Irish harper
Scorn not the strains from his poor withered hand
Remember his fingers could once move more sharper
To raise up the strains of his poor native land

When I was a young lad, King Jamie did flourish
I followed the wars in my brogues bound with straw
And all the fair colleens from Wexford to Durrish
Called me Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh

How I love for to muse on the days of my childhood
Tho’ four score and three years have flitted since then
It gives sweet reflection as every young boy should
For light hearted boys make the best of old men

At pattern or fair I could twist my shillelagh
Or trip through the jig with my brogues bound with straw
Whilst all the fair maidens around me assembled
Loved bold Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh

Although I have travelled this wide world all over
Yet Erin’s my home and a mother to me
Then oh, let the ground that my old bones shall cover
Be cut from the soil that is trod by the free

And when Sergeant Death, his cold arms shall embrace me
Oh, lull me to sleep with sweet “Erin Go Bragh”
By the side of my wife, my sweet Kathleen, oh place me
Then forget Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh


The Bard of Armagh, an Irish ballad, is often attributed to Patrick Donnelly.  He was made Bishop of Dromore in 1697, the same year as the enactment of the Bishops Banishment Act.  Donnelly is believed to have taken the name of the travelling harper, Phelim Brady.
The song itself dates from the mid 19th century when it was printed as a broadside ballad in Dublin.

Song Clip