Glen of Aherlow

Lyrics

My name is Patrick Sheehan, and my years are thirty-four
Tipperary is my native place, not far from Galtymore
I came of honest parents, but now they’re lying low
Though many’s the pleasant days we spent in the Glen of Aherlow

My father died; I closed his eyes outside the cabin door
For the landlord and the sheriff too were there the day before
And then my loving mother and my sisters three also
Were forced to go with broken hearts from the Glen of Aherlow

For three long months, in search of work, I wandered far and near
I then went to the poorhouse to see my mother dear
The news I heard near broke my heart, but still in all my woe
I blessed the friends who made their graves in the Glen of Aherlow

Bereft of home and kith and kin, with plenty all around
I starved within my cabin, and slept upon the ground
But cruel as my lot was, I never did hardship know
’til I joined the English army, far away from Aherlow

‘Rouse up there’, cried the corporal, ‘Ya lazy Irish hound
Why don’t you hear the bugle, its call to arms to sound ?’
I found I had been dreaming of the days long, long ago
And I woke upon Sebastopol, and not in Aherlow

I tried to find my musket, how dark I thought the night
O blessed God, it wasn’t dark, it was the broad daylight
And when I found that I was blind, my tears began to flow
And I longed for even a pauper’s grave in the Glen of Aherlow

A poor neglected mendicant, I wander Dublin’s streets
My nine months’ pension it being out, I beg from all I meet
As I joined my country’s tyrants, my face I can never show
Amongst my dear old neighbors in the Glen of Aherlow.

So Irish youths, dear countrymen, take heed in what I say
For if you join the English ranks, you’ll surely rue the day
And whenever you’re tempted, a-soldiering to go
Remember poor blind Sheehan from the Glen of Aherlow


Notes

The Glen of Aherlow (also known as Patrick Sheehan) is a traditional Irish song which originated as a ballad written by Irish republican Charles Joseph Kickham (1828-1882). It was first printed in The Kilkenny Journal, Kilkenny, on 7 October 1857, the writer using the pseudonym “Darby Ryan, Junior”

The song is based on the true story of a young ex-soldier from the Glen of Aherlow named Patrick Sheehan who was blinded at the Siege of Sevastopol. Sheehan was later jailed in 1857 for begging in Grafton Street, Dublin, his British army pension having expired after six months.
Due to the publicity arising from this case, the British government was shamed into inquiring about Sheehan, to whom a life pension of a shilling a day was granted


Song Clip


County

Tipperary

Song Themes

Crimean War

Songwriter