Eslin Man


I come from the parish of Eslin, ‘tis a place you all know well
And if you’ll listen to me now a story to you I’ll tell
I had to travel across the sea, in England I did toil
But I always longed to be back home upon my native soil
The work was hard, the money was good, so there I did remain
But I got myself a souvenir to ease my homesick pain
Down the road just from my digs, there lived an artist so true
And for the fee of one hundred pounds, he gave me an Irish tattoo

He drew the map of Ireland from my chest right down to my thigh
It took three days and three long nights before the ink was dry
‘twas worse than an operation, my body was throbbing with pain
I thought before he’d finished the job, I’d never walk again.
Well when the job was finished, the unveiling had to come
And what I saw in the mirror that day made me want to run
This artist had outdone himself, he’d drawn the map all wrong
He said ‘tis there and there to stay, there’s nothing can be done’

Upon my chest was Ulster, the six counties were coloured in red
My belly, the bog of Allen, my hip was Mizen Head
If you seen what was Dingle Peninsula and where he put Bantry Bay
And the great big Kerry Mountains were almost in the sea
I put on my clothes, I got such a shock and to Eslin I did flee
My neighbours, they all shook my hand, they were so glad to see me
As the years rolled on I met a lass and we were to be wed
But the thoughts of the map of Ireland kept flashing through my head.

I went to visit the doctor one day in Mohill town
Arthur Dolan sat behind his desk, he looked me up and down
‘Well doctor’ I said ‘I need your help, there’s something I want removed’
And as he raised his eyebrows I could see he was not amused
‘You know I’m in a hurry’ he said, ‘Please tell me and don’t be shy’
‘Is it a boil or a bunion you have or something in your eye?
There could be nothing wrong with you that I’ve not seen before’
I knew he was in for an awful shock, so I turned and locked the door

My trousers and shirt there came off first and then there came my vest
I could see his eyes on Donegal and they slowly fell to the west
And when he came to Kerry he let out an unmerciful roar
And I calmly asked him if he ever did see the likes before
The doctor could not help me so he sent me on my way
He told me the map of Ireland would be there ‘til my dying day
I told him of my wedding and to me he did say
‘Sure if you tour old Ireland, you’ll never lose your way’

I came out quite dejected and who should I meet but my Nell
And I decided there and then that the truth to her I’d tell
She smiled when I told her and this to me did say
‘Twill be our little secret until our dying day’
So here’s a bit of advice for all ye men who have to roam
It sometimes gets quite lonesome when you’re far away from home.
But never trust a foreign man, no matter what he can do.
Or you might end up like the Eslin man, stuck with an Irish tattoo


Written by Fionnuala Maxwell

Song Clip