“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