MUSICAL MONDAY: The Fields of Athenry

“The Fields of Athenry” is a folk song about the Great Irish Famine (1845-1849), composed in the 1970s by Inchicore songwriter Pete St. John and first recorded by Irish ballad singer Danny Doyle. It tells the story of the famine through first-person narrative, recounting the tale of a prisoner who has been sentenced to being transported to Botany Bay, Australia, for stealing food to feed his starving family. The claim has been made that the words originate from a broadsheet ballad published in the 1880s by Devlin in Dublin with a different tune; however Pete St. John has stated definitively that he wrote the words as well as the music, so the story of the 1880s broadsheet may be false.


Copyright © 2013.  Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

11 thoughts on “MUSICAL MONDAY: The Fields of Athenry

    • I also thought it was a traditional tune Frances. Is one the first which “grabbed” me when first joining the Celtic Music Group here, in South Oz, and seems to be constantly playing quietly in the background of my mind.

      • It’s a very emotional song and a beautiful tune. When I hear the Ireland supporters sing it during a Six Nations rugby match I get a real lump in my throat – which makes singing along (watching on TV, I’m afraid) difficult…

  1. “The High Kings” do a really good job on this song too. The one included in this post is going on the playlist (you wouldn’t believe how many different versions of the same songs I listen to 😉 ). Thanks!

    • It’s such a haunting, and beautiful tune, I reckon J.G. I love that you enjoy various versions of the same song. Glad you enjoyed this rendition. Now I’m just going to HAVE to search “youtube” for the “High Kings” version unless you spare me and post the link here… 😆

      • Oh… also very beautiful J.G. and now I can blame you for the hours I’ve spent listening to many more of their renditions of much loved songs and then switching over to others. What is it I’m trying to avoid???… you may well ask. 🙄
        Just a new post I need to write for my “South Australian Graves Under Threat” Blog which saddens me incredibly but which I do have to do… Thanks for the distraction… 🙂

    • Oh, it certainly does David… I agree.
      I know that some folks get rather bored with me obsessing over the Irish “famine” but it’s in my blood and my Ancestry. Always lovely to hear from you and I have no idea how you’re ever able tear yourself away from the beautiful Reuben to go on-line… but so pleased that you do… thanks 🙂

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