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Patrick Sheehan
(Laws J11; Roud 983)
Tom Lenihan
Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
Recorded 1977

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Tom Lenihan

My name is Patrick Sheehan, and my years are thirty-four;
Tipperary is my native place, not far from Galtymore;
I came of honest parents but now they are laid low
And many a pleasant day I spent in the Glen of Aherlow.

My father died, he closed his eyes outside our cabin door;
The landlord and the sheriff, too, were there the day before;
And then my loving mother, and sisters three also,
Were forced to go with broken hearts from the Glen of Aherlow.

For three long months, in search of work, I wandered far and near;
I went into the poorhouse to see my mother dear.
The news I heard near broke my heart; but still, in all my woe,
I blessed the friends that made their graves in the Glen of Aherlow.

Bereft of home, and kith and kin with plenty all around;
I stayed within my cabin, and slept upon the ground.
But cruel as my lot was, I ne'er did hardship know
Till I joined the English army, far away from Aherlow.

‘Rise up there,’ says the corporal, ‘you lazy Irish hound,
Why don’t you see, you sleepy dog, the call to arms sound?’
Alas I had been dreaming of days long, long ago.
I awoke before Sebastopol, but not in Aherlow.

I grouped [groped] to find my rifle, how dark I thought the night;
Oh, blessed God, it was not dark; it was the broad daylight;
And when I found that I was blind, my tears began to flow;
I longed for even a pauper’s grave in the Glen of Aherlow.

Oh, Blessed Virgin Mary, mine is a mournful tale,
A poor blind prisoner here I am in England’s dreary jail;
Struck blind within the trenches where I never feared the foe,
And now I'll never see again my own sweet Aherlow.

Dear Irish youths, dear countrymen, take heed in what I say,
And if you join the English ranks you'll surely rue the day,
Whenever you are tempted a-soldiering to go,
Remember poor blind Sheehan from the Glen of Aherlow.


Conversation after the song between Tom Lenihan, Pat Mackenzie and Jim Carroll:
Tom: Patrick Sheehan is a ballad I bought from Bully Nevin years ago.
Jim: Yeah, so it was on the ballads?
Tom: It was on the ballads.


“‘Patrick Sheehan’ was written by author Charles Kickham (1826-1882) under the pseudonym Darby Ryan Junior, and was printed in 'The Kilkenny Journal' in October 1857. Its purpose was to protest the arrest in Dublin of a veteran soldier of that name who had been blinded in the trenches before Sebastopol and had been discharged on a pension of sixpence a day; at the time of his arrest the pension had expired. The song became very popular and was soon to be heard all over Ireland. It was said to have shamed the authorities into awarding Sheehan a life pension of a shilling a day. It has been found in America and as far afield as Australia. There appears to have been only one English version, got from a singer in Portsmouth Workhouse in 1907, taken down by George Gardiner. We recorded incomplete sets from several Travellers and full versions from Vincie Boyle and Martin Reidy."

Reference:
Songs of Irish Rebellion, Georges-Denis Zimmerman.
The Constant Lovers; Selections from the Hammond and Gardiner collection , Frank Purslow (ed).
Jim Carroll


See also
Patrick Sheehan sung by Vincie Boyle



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