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The County of Mayo
(Roud V15354)
John Lyons
Carroll Mackenzie Collection

John Lyons

On the deck of Patrick Lynch's boat I sat in deep despair.
With the crying of the weary night and the weeping of the day;
Were it not that full of sorrow from my people forth I go,
By the blessed sun tis royally I'd sing thy praises sweet Mayo!

When I dwelt at home in plenty, thy gold did much abound,
In the company of fair young maids the Spanish ale went round.
It’s a bitter change from those gay days that now I'm forced to go,
And leave my bones on Santa Cruz, far away from sweet Mayo.

They are changed girls in Irrus now; how tall they've grown and high,
With their top-knots and their hair-bags, sure I pass their buckles by.
For it's little now I heed their airs, for God has willed it so,
That I must go and leave them all far away from sweet Mayo.

It’s my grief that Pat O’Loughlin is not Earl of Irrus still.
And that Brian Duff no longer rules as Lord upon the hill.
And that Colonel Hugh O’Grady should be dead and lying low,
And I sailing, sailing swiftly from the County of Mayo.


“Also known as ‘Patrick Lynch’s Boat’ this is thought to have been composed by a bard named Thomas Flavelle (or Lavelle), a native of Bophin on the western seaboard, who was a poor dependent of the fourth Earl of Mayo, and lived about the middle of the seventeenth century. The translation is often attributed to Belfast poet George Fox (1809-1880), a friend of Sir Samuel Ferguson, but Lady Ferguson, in her Life of her husband, says that he was the true author of this poem, but that as Fox had a hand in it, he allowed it to be attributed to him. Sir Samuel dedicated his poems to Fox in 1880.

The ‘Irish Penny Journal’ of 1841, wrote of it:
‘The specimen of our ancient Irish Literature which we now present to our readers, is one of the most popular songs of the peasantry of the counties of Mayo and Galway, and is evidently a composition of that most unhappy period of Irish history, the seventeenth century. The original Irish which is the composition of one Thomas Lavelle, has been published without a translation, by Mr Hardiman, in his Irish Minstrelsy; but a very able translation of it was published in a review of that work in the University Magazine for June, that translation the version which we now give has been but slightly altered so as to adapt it to the original melody, which is of very great beauty and pathos, and one which it is desirable to preserve with English words of appropriate simplicity of character.’”

The Poem Book of the Gael, Eleanor Hull, 1912.
Jim Carroll


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