Oh father dear, I oft-times hear you speak of Erin’s isle
Her lofty hills, her valleys green, her mountains rude and wild
They say it is a lovely land wherein a prince might dwell
So why did you abandon it, the reason to me tell

Oh son, I loved my native land with energy and pride
Till a blight came over all my crops, my sheep, my cattle died
My rent and taxes were too high, I could not them redeem
And that’s the cruel reason why I left old Skibbereen

Oh well do I remember that bleak December day
The landlord and the sheriff came to drive us all away
They set my roof on fire with their cursed English spleen
And that’s another reason why I left old Skibbereen

Your mother too, God rest her soul, fell on the snowy ground
She fainted in her anguish seeing desolation ’round
She never rose but passed away to life’s immortal dream
And found a quiet grave, me boy, in dear old Skibbereen

And you were only two years old and feeble was your frame
I could not leave you with my friends, you bore your father’s name
I wrapped you in my cóta mór in the dead of night unseen
I heaved a sigh and bade goodbye to dear old Skibbereen

Oh father dear, the day will come when in answer to the call
All Irish men of freedom, they will rally one and all
I’ll be the man to lead the band beneath the flag of green
When loud and high, we’ll raise the cry, revenge for Skibbereen

Cork 1

Songs of Cork


Skibbereen is a small town in west Cork. It gives name to a ballad commemorating the great famine of 1845-52 when some 8000 – 10,000 people from the surrounding area died. The song captures the disregard of the British government for the suffering of a starving nation and the cruelty of landlords to their impoverished tenant farmers.

Skibbereen 2

Skibbereen famine

Famine eviction