Hills of Donegal 2


O Donegal, the pride of all, my heart still turns to thee
And my cottage home where oft I roamed when I was young and free
Big houses grand in foreign lands can not compare at all
With my cottage bright, on a winter’s night, ‘mid the hills of Donegal

Right well I mind in the harvest time, that doleful dreary day
When leaving all in Donegal, I wandered far away
In Creeslough town, my friends stood round, I bade farewell to all
Then on the van I waved my hand to the hills of Donegal

When gazing back through Barnes Gap, at my own dear native hills
I thought no shame, oh who could blame? while there I cried my fill
My parents kind ran in my mind, my friends and comrades all
My heart did ache, I thought ‘twould break, when leaving Donegal

From Derry Quay we steamed away on the waters calm and still
And down Lough Foyle our tug did toil for the big ship at Moville
Some loved to see each tower and tree, and ancient lordly hall
But my thoughts that day were far away on the hills of Donegal

Round Tory Isle we steamed in style; on the mainland we could see
Tall Muckish grand with glistening sand, smile over Cruckathee
While Errigal, much higher still, looked proudly over all
I heaved a sigh and waved good-bye to the hills of Donegal

Amongst those hills St. Columb-cille left miracles and cures
In streams and dells and Holy Wells, with power that still endures
Green Gartan’s cell, the old Doon well, St. Feenan’s waterfall
Have virtues true that health renew, ‘mid the hills of Donegal

Old Donegal has castles tall amongst her mountains gray
MacSuibhne’s castle down in Doe, and the castle of Glenveigh
The House of Ards near Derryart, where Conyngham did fall
By the avenging hand of bold Aodh Bán on the hills of Donegal

There, proud and bold in days of old, the O’Donnell chiefs were crowned
Ere yet the Saxons left their tracks on holy Irish ground
But the Saxons came with sword and flame to hold the clans in thrall
And rule the glens, the fertile plains, and the hills of Donegal

A cruel man oppressed the clans, nor God nor man did fear
But in ’78, I mind the date in the spring-time of the year
Near Milford town of high renown, that Norman Knight did fall
In Cratlagh wood as tyrants should in the hills of Donegal

O grá mo chroí, I long to see my native hills again
On a foreign shore my heart is sore with exile’s longing pain
Could I but see these mountains free, ‘twould compensate for all
I’d live as my forefathers lived on the hills of Donegal


Written by Niall Mac Giolla Bhrighde around 1900; edited sections were recorded by various singers in the first half of the 20th century.

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