Kathaleen Machree


Oh, Sweetly in St. John’s old keep
At midnight sings the fairy choir
Low melodies that lull to sleep
The weary peasant by the fire
And softly as a lover’s dream
The Shannon wakes a lay for me
But sweeter, softer still I deem
The voice of Kathaleen machree

Oh, brightly falls the summer light
Upon Roscommon’s hills at eve’
And wildly in the witching night
Their golden web the moonbeams weave
And mountain berries cluster fair
The heather bells are sweet to see
But richer, brighter are the hair
And lips of Kathaleen machree

Oh, gentle now the twilight breeze
Wafts fragrance from the meadow side
But gentler waved the poplar trees
The eve’ she said she’d be my bride
How wearily from day to day
The lagging moments come and flee
Ah, how I long for sunny May
To wed my Kathaleen machree


Another masterpiece from the pen of John Keegan Casey, who regularly rowed across Lough Ree to St. John’s on the Roscommon side of the lake.

I’m a little confused here. In the song ‘Boating on Lough Ree’, John Keegan Casey wrote about the drowning of his love Mary Hanly (who the McNulty Family called Molly Bawn), while in this song, Keegan Casey wants to marry Kathleen. Sounds like ‘a whole lot of loving going on’ for a young man who was imprisoned at 21 and died at 24.



Song Themes

Love and romance