Ould Lammas Fair


At the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle long ago
I met a pretty colleen who set me heart a-glow
She was smiling at her daddy buying lambs from Paddy Roe
At the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle-O
Sure I seen her home that night
When the moon was shining bright
From the ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle-O

At the ould Lammas Fair boys were you ever there
Were you ever at the Fair In Ballycastle-O?
Did you treat your Mary Ann to some Dulse and Yellow Man
At the ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle-O

In Flander’s fields afar while resting from the War
We drank Bon Sante to the Flemish lassies O
But the scene that haunts my memory is kissing Mary Ann
Her pouting lips all sticky from eating Yellow Man
As we passed the silver Margy and we strolled along the strand
From the ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle-O

There’s a neat little cabin on the slopes of fair Knocklayde
It’s lit by love and sunshine where the heather honey’s made
With the bees ever humming and the children’s joyous call
Resounds across the valley as the shadows fall
Sure I take my fiddle down and my Mary smiling there
Brings back a happy mem’ry of the Lammas Fair



Written by John Henry MacAuley

At more than three centuries old, the Lammas Fair at Ballycastle, Co. Antrim is perhaps Ireland’s longest running fair. It is held annually on the last Monday and Tuesday in August.

In ancient mythology, the Sun God Lugh ordered a festival of games and feasting to commemorate his foster-mother Tailtiu. ‘Tailtiu Games’ were celebrated extensively at the time of Christianity’s arrival in Ireland. The word Lammas, meaning ‘loaf mass’ was intoduced to reflected in the custom of placing loaves of bread baked from the first harvest grains on the church altar.

The Lammas Fair at Ballycastle originated at Dunanyie Head, (now Castle Point). Some say that it started out as a sheep market; others that it originated when Sorley Boy MacDonnell ordered a celebration for his nephew. Either way it grew and migrated to Ballycastle where it now hosts more than 400 stalls, live music, livestock sales and offerings of traditional Lammas treats of Yellow Man, (a sticky honeycomb toffee) and Dulse (a reddish sea weed collected from the nearby shores, dried out until it’s crisp, and then packaged in bags for sale).


Song Clip



Song Themes

Ireland Today