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The Boys of Barr na Sráide
(Roud 24291)
John Lyons
Newmarket-on-Fergus
Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

John Lyons

The town that climbs the mountain and looks upon the sea,
And sleeping time or waking, sure its there I long to be,
To walk again those kindly streets, where first my life began,
With the boys of Barr na Sráide, who hunted for the wren.

With cudgels stout we roved about to hunt the dreólín,
We looked for birds in every furze from Litir to Dooneen,
We jumped for joy beneath the sky, life held no print or plan,
And we boys in Barr na Sráide, hunting for the wren.

And when the hills were bleeding and the rifles were aflame,
To the rebel homes of Kerry the Saxon stranger came.
But the men who dared the Auxies and fought the Black-and-Tan,
Were once boys in Barr na Sráide, hunting for the wren.

But now they toil on foreign soil, where they have made their way.
Deep in the heart of London town and over in Broadway.
And I am left to sing their deeds and praise them while I can,
Those boys of Barr na Sráide, who hunted for the wren.

So here's a hand to them tonight, those men who laughed with me,
By the groves of Carham river and the slope of Bean 'a Tí.
John Daly and Batt Andy’s and the Sheehans, Con and Dan,
And the boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wren.

And when the wheel of life runs down and peace comes over me,
Just lay me down near that old town between the hills and sea.
I'll take my place near those green fields, where first I grew a man,
With the boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wren.

“This was originally written by Kerry poet Sigerson Clifford from Cahersiveen (1913–1985). It was first published in a collection of his poems ‘Ballads of a Bogman’ in 1986 (but not included in the first 1955 edition); it was well-known as a song long before the poem was published. It recalls the lives of the author's boyhood friends from when they were young children through to the Black and Tan period and up to Civil War. It first appeared as a song on the radio, sung by Seán Ó Síocháin, on a programme called ‘The Balladmakers Saturday Night’ in the 1950s; Ó Siocháin got to know Clifford through their work on the programme.”
Jim Carroll


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