The Bard of Armagh

The tune of ‘The Bard of Armagh’ has often been borrowed for country and pop songs – “The Streets of Laredo”,  ‘Only the Heartaches’ , Dominic Behan’s “The Patriot Game” and an antiwar song of Bob Dylan’s “With God on our Side”, just for example.  These are the words of the original  (?) ……….

Oh list’ to the lay of a poor Irish harper,

And scorn not the strings in his old withered hands,

But remember those fingers, they once could move sharper,

To raise up the strains of his dear native land.

It was long before the shamrock, dear Isle’s lovely emblem,

Was crushed in its beauty by the Saxon’s lion paw,

And all the pretty colleens around me would gather,

Called me their bold Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.

How I love to muse on the days of my boyhood,

Though four score and three years have fled by since then.

Still it gives sweet reflection, as every young joys should,

For the merry-hearted boys make the best of old men.

At a fair or a wake I would twist my shillelagh,

And trip through a dance with my brogues tied with straw.

There all the pretty maidens around me would gather,

Called me their bold Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.

In truth I have wandered this wide world over,

Yet Ireland‘s my home and a dwelling for me.

And, oh, let the turf that my old bones shall cover

Be cut from the land that is trod by the free.

And when Sergeant Death in his cold arms doth embrace me,

And lulls me to sleep with old ‘Erin-go-Bragh’,

By the side of my Kathleen, my dear pride, oh, place me,

Then forget Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.


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