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The Valley of Knockanure
(Roud 17752)
Martin Long
Cloontysmarra, Inagh
Recorded at a singing session in Marrinan’s Bar during the Willie Clancy Summer School, July 1975
Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

[You may] sing and speak about Easter week and the heroes of Nintety-eight.
Or the Fenian men who roamed the glen for victory or defeat.
Of Allen, Larkin and O’Brien, they were outlaws on the moor,
But no word was said about those who lay dead, in the Valley of Knockanure.

There was Peter Dalton and Danny Walsh, well known both far and wide,
In every town and every place, they were always side by side.
A Republic bold, they did uphold, they were outlaws on the moor,
And side by side, they fought and died, in the Valley of Knockanure.

‘Twas a summer’s evening bright and clear those two brave men lay down,
Awaiting on a brief dispatch to come from Tralee town.
It was not long till young Lyons came on, saying; ‘Time is not mine or yours.
Look out!’ he cried, ‘We’re surrounded boys,’ in the Valley of Knockanure.

Young Dalton grasped his rifle and by Walsh’s side he stood.
He gazed along the valley and over towards the wood.
But down the hill there came a thrill, ‘twas the sound of armoured fuel,
And each rebel’s face turned slightly pale, in the Valley of Knockanure.

A shot from Dalton’s rifle put a machine gun out of place.
He turned and whispered to young Lyons, ‘You try and get away.
Creep through the rocks, avoid the knocks, lie low in Fairy’s Moor,
For Danny and I will fight till we die in the Valley of Knockanoure.’

Oh the summer sun was setting over Kerry and the sea.
The Black and Tans were coming in, their lorries from Tralee.
The rebels’ fire had slackened now, there is silence in the moor.
And when Dalton died, the banshee cried in the Valley of Knockanoure.

I was speaking with Dalton’s mother and, these words to me did say:
‘May God have mercy on my son, he was shot in the get-away.
If I could kiss his pale cold lips, my aching heart would cure,
And I’d bring his body home to rest, in the Valley of Knockanoure.’


“Originally written by Tim Leahy of Listowel, this refers to an incident in the Irish War of Independence; Martin’s version was a later re-write by singer, writer and broadcaster, Bryan McMahon, also from Listowel, several other songs were written on the same event.

On the 12 May 1921, a troop of Black and Tans was travelling out from Listowel towards Athea when they arrested four young unarmed men in Gortaglanna. Prior to this, the barracks in Listowel had been burnt out and the troops, heavy with drink and bent on revenge, decided to execute the young men. The first to be shot was Jerry Lyons. When this happened Con (Cornelius) Dee decided, as he was going to be shot anyway, to make a run for it. He did, and almost immediately took a bullet in the thigh but managed to keep going. He ran for about three miles and survived. He was never recaptured but remained in hiding until the Truce. The other two men were shot on the spo. Today a memorial stands by the roadside where the three died during Ireland's struggle for independence.

Paddy Tunney writes of the song:
‘I recall with deep affection a Saturday night spent in that mid-Kerry village in heroic company. The super from Tralee and the local Garda sergeant had been drinking all day. The latter had been an old I.R.A. man in his day. We joined them, and a singing session was soon underway: ‘Tipperary So Far Away’; ‘The Foggy Dew... 'Twas England bade the wild geese go that small nations might be free'; ‘The Tri-Coloured Ribbon’; ‘Kelly, the Boy from Killane’ ; 'And the banshee cried where our heroes died in the valley of Knockanure.' If I sang it once, I must have sung it seven times that memorable night. If Bryan McMahon had never written another line, he would be remembered forever wherever green is worn. No other ballad inspired by the war for independence evokes the pain and poignancy, the pride and mórtas cine of a people rising from the dead to shake off the chains of bondage’”

Reference:
Where Songs Do Thunder, Paddy Tunney, Appletree Press, Belfast, 1991.
Jim Carroll


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