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Misses Limerick, Kerry and Clare
(Roud 5223)
Tom Lenihan
Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
Recorded in singer's home, July 1976

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Tom Lenihan

You noble heroes of Paddy’s nation,
Draw near a while until I relate
Of a conversation between three girls,
The other night had a great debate.
They rose no rows nor no noisy voices.
They spoke quite civil as I could see.
They drew down heroes from their three counties
To know who’d boast of their history.

There was one from Limerick and one from Kerry
And another one from the County Clare.
And as those three girls sat down together
They could see all round them from everywhere.
Miss Limerick spoke saying, “I am the oldest.
You must excuse me to make so free.
The Limerick people they were never beaten,
They fought out brave for you all to see.”

Miss Clare made answer, saying, “You said that handsome,
But now is my time for to begin.
But for us in Clare in the days past over
Would e’er a bell in your churches ring?
We have O’Connell the great Lib’rator,
At the present time trying to set us free.
And while grass is growing and water flowing
He’s here in Ennis for the world to see.”

Miss Kerry blushed and she spoke quite hasty:
“Is that my son you are speaking of?
Sure we have O’Connell that noble hero,
From that grand old place they call Derrynane.
Where he got birth and good education
Until he was ready to meet the King.
And in twenty-nine he did blindfold them
When the Emancipation to us did bring.”

Miss Limerick spoke, saying, “’Tis all a joke,
And ‘tis not for quarrelling we sat down here.
That man you’re meaning, the Great Lib’rator,
We have his statue as well as ye.
We have brave Parnell and all his followers,
Doing all they can for to set us free.
I have one sixpence and we’ll have three half-ones,
And say no more about history!”


“This rare song among traditional singers is based around the popularity of Daniel O’Connell and the support he was shown by the named counties. He was born in Derrynane, near Caherciveen, Kerry, and in 1828 stood for Parliament in Clare, managing a huge victory against the government candidate; a column bearing his statue dominates Ennis town centre at the beginning of the main street named after him. Limerick’s support for him was shown in the city fathers naming their main street after him and erecting a statue. In the song, three young women from the three Munster Counties boast of their connection to ‘The Liberator’. Tom Munnelly comments in his notes to the song:

‘That the three allegorical maidens should argue that each of their counties have a prior claim on such a popular figure is hardly a cause of surprise. Less typical of this type of song, however, is the amicable agreement they arrive at in the last verse. Another text collected on the Galway/Clare border supplies two more verses before Tom's concluding one:

Miss Clare replied and she deeply sighed,
Saying he was from Kerry, I don't deny,
But he did cross over the Shannon waters
And the men of Clare made their first reply.
Likewise the women they fought courageous
And in twenty-eight they gave him the chair
For being a Catholic and son to Grainne
In the House of Commons they thought him quare.

Miss Kerry said I can boast of one thing,
And it is well known to the world wide,
That I reared a son now that fought for Ireland
And for to free her he sorely tried.
Likewise the scenery around Killarney
Where all strangers they come to view—
They speak of Wicklow and other parts of Ireland,
But Kerry is the pride of the thirty-two.

Collected by Liam Mac Coisdealbha from Martin O Donnell (70), farmer, Derrybrian, Co Galway, December 23rd 1936.'"

Reference:
Mount Callan Garland (Songs from the repertoire of Tom Lenihan, Tom Munnelly (ed.), Comhairle Bhéaloideas Éireann, 1994.
Jim Carroll


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