Cahersiveen Races


‘Twas a day in September that I’ll always remember
I went with my father to Carhan’s old school
And there on the racecourse were gathered in great force
Rich man and poor man, wild boy and tame fool
There were tinkers from Galway as brown as a ha’penny
A beggar with whiskers, the longest I’ve seen
The three-card trick Johnny and the four-shots-a-penny
On the day of the races in Cahersiveen

‘Twas a rich Tower of Babel beside the school gable
Where the bookies were shouting and laying the odds
‘Twould take Atlas so hairy or our own Crusher Casey
To push through the crowds packed like peas in their pods
There were tents like umbrellas where all sorts of fellows
Sold dilisc and shellfish and the juicy crubeen
And penny Peg legs, the size of a peeler
On the day of the races in Cahersiveen

The jockeys, they sat on their horses like statues
Their fame shall remain while the Fertha still flows
‘Tis my hero, Padgen, I’d pin a bright badge on
With the two gallant Griffins, Jimmie and John Joe.
Denis Donovan too, from high Barr na Sráide
And Courtney, Saint Brendan’s, were sporting and keen
While Jack Rock’s spurs a-jingle, would make your blood tingle
On the day of the races in Cahersiveen.

The horses, God bless them, in my dreams I caress them
The wild-things of beauty stole the heart from my side
As I watched them fly over the grass and red clover
And sweep like the wind east by Reenrusheen tide
They skimmed the hawbushes, they dashed through the rushes
Their jockeys arrayed in blue, scarlet and green
‘Twas the world’s eighth wonder to hear their hooves thunder
On the day of the races in Cahersiveen

O that night men did gather, hearts light like a feather
Round a meegum in Bawner’s or a pint at the Plough
They toasted the horses that won out their courses
And shouted their praises while time did allow
‘Here’s a health to you, Terry and O’Neill’s Pride of Kerry
Likewise Lass from Sussa, the westland’s swift queen
May they graze in high heaven and have comfort for ever
They’re the pride of the races in Cahersiveen’

My father is gone now, God’s peace to his ashes
The boys are young men and the old men are dead
There is many a mile between me and the racecourse
But the hooves of the horses beat loud in my head
I give you my oath now, I’d swop the wide world
To call back the bright days when proud I had been
A lad with his dad on the white road to Carhan
And the splendid horse-races in Cahersiveen


Written by Sigerson Clifford (1913-1985) who was born in Cork of Kerry parents. The family moved to Cahersiveen when he was two years old. The beauty of the place, its sportsmen and characters are dominant features of his work. Cahersiveen Races still takes place every year, but its date has been changed to the month of August.

Song Clip



Song Themes

Sporting occasions