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Farewell to Miltown Malbay
(Roud 5228)
Nora Cleary
The Hand, near Miltown Malbay
Recorded during the singers’ concert at the
Willie Clancy Summer School, Miltown Malbay, July 1976

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Nora Cleary

Farewell to Miltown Malbay,
A long and sad farewell,
The sorrow in my heart today
No words of mine can tell,
I'm parting from my dear old friends
And the scenes I fondly love,
May happiness attend them all
And blessings from above.

A bright and pleasant youth was mine
Among the good folks there.
No kinder hearts can e'er be found
Than those who throb in Clare,
And oh how crushed and sad I feel,
My tears fall down like rain,
As I look my last upon the place
I ne’er shall see again.

From Barr an Bhaile to the Square
I often took a stroll,
I rambled out the Ennis Road,
Where Wickham's was my goal,
To play a game of outs and combs,
Or pass the time away,
While listening to traditions old
And legends of Mal Bay.

And often, too, I sought Mike Cleary’s,
Wherein we’d many a spree,
Where Willie Clancy, with his pipes,
Filled our young hearts with glee,
And set young and old a-dancing
Upon the kitchen floor,
The joys and fun that I’ve had there
I never shall have more.

The sea is gemmed with twinkling stars,
The sun shines bright today.
The rocky shore is fringed with foam
From Spanish Point to Freagh,
The verdant fields go rolling down
From Ballard into the sea,
Oh, what a soul-entrancing sight
Is spread out there for me.

With Connemara’s cone-like peaks
And Kerry’s hazy heights,
With grim Hag’s Head and Baltard Point
Which the ocean ever fights.
With Mutton Island nearer home,
And Mal Bay keeping guard
I concieve a panorama
Which my mind shall ne’er discard.

I remember well the hurling,
The hunting on the heath.
The cuaird we made to rest ourselves,
On some cozy hearth beneath.
And while sitting there in comfort,
Around the turf-fire’s glow
We could see among the rafters
Mystic shadows come and go.

The Angelus is mellowly a-ringing in the air,
Men bare their heads and piously
To Mary breathe a prayer.
Should e’er I see this act devout
Beyond the ocean foam,
‘Twill bring me back to this last day
I spent in my old home.

So farewell to Miltown Malbay,
Farewell to one and all.
The joys and fun that I’ve had there
I often will recall.
I never forget, though far away,
Where I was born and nursed,
And where upon the Ennis Road
I crawled about at first.


“This was written by Miltown Malbay schoolteacher, playwright, poet, and Gaelic scholar Tomás Ó hAodha (Thomas Hayes – 1866-1935) on leaving Miltown to take up a post elsewhere; it was published in his collection of poems, ‘The Hills of Clare’. Hayes was born in Miltown Malbay in 1866, the son of a cooper. He became a teacher in 1886 in Dublin and was one of the early members of the Gaelic League. His greatest interest was in Irish music and the teaching of Irish song, in which he was an innovator. The song presents his strongly affectionate view of life in Miltown about a century ago.”
Jim Carroll

See also
Farewell to Miltown Malbay sung by Kitty Hayes

Farewell to Miltown Malbay sung by Tom Lenihan

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