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Patrick Sheehan
(Laws J11; Roud 983)
Vincie Boyle
Mount Scott, Mullagh
Recorded November 2003

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Vincie Boyle

My name is Patrick Sheehan, and my years are thirty-four;
Tipperary is my native place, not far from Galtymore;
I’ve come of honest parents but now they're lying low
And many the happy day I spent in the Glen of Aherlow.

My father died, I 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 nigh broke my heart; but still, in all my woe,
I blessed the friends who made their graves in the Glen of Aherlow.

Bereft of home, of kith and kin and plenty all around;
I starved within my cabin, I 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.

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

I groped to find my musket, how dark I thought the night;
Oh, blessed God, it is not dark; it is 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 Dublin'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.

A poor neglected mendicant I wandered through the streets,
My nine months' pension now being out, I beg from all I meet;
As I joined my country's tyrants my face I’ll never show,
Among the kind old neighbours in the Glen of Aherlow.

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

"‘Patrick Sheehan’ was written by author Charles Kickham in 1857 to protest the arrest and imprisonment ‘for loitering for the purpose of begging’ in Grafton Street, Dublin, of a soldier of that name. Sheehan had been blinded in the trenches before Sebastopol in the Crimea, and had been discharged on a pension of sixpence a day, which, at the time of his arrest had expired. He was sentenced to seven days imprisonment.
The ballad was soon to be heard in the streets all over Ireland and it is said to have shamed the government into inquiring about the ex-soldier, to whom a life pension of a shilling a day was granted.
Ref: ‘Songs of Irish Rebellion’, Georges-Denis Zimmerman, pub. Allen Figgis, Dublin 1967
Other recordings: (Paddy Sheehan) Willie McElroy: ‘The Fair At Enniskillen’: Outlet OAS 3001"

The above commentary, lyrics and recording are taken from ‘Around the Hills of Clare: Songs and Recitations from the Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie Collection’ (2004) Musicial Traditions Records MTCD331-2/Góilín Records 005-6

See also
Patrick Sheehan sung by Tom Lenihan


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