An Irish rebel song attributed to Pete St. John, protesting the intervention of the English crown in Irish affairs, and the harsh treatment of Irish nationalists by the British. This is a favorite in many of the Irish pubs in America, but I doubt that it's sung too loudly in Belfast. The song is sad in tone, but the chords of the chorus are mostly major chords, and feel uplifting--like most rebel songs, it speaks of despair but sings of hope. "Athenry" is pronounced "ATH-en-RYE", and Trevelyan is pronounced "traVELyun" or "traVAILyun"; the rest of the words are pretty simple.
This song rewrites the theme of many folk tales--the brave husband who steals bread to feed his children--setting it in Ireland during the so-called potato famine of 1847. An Irishman will more likely call it Black 47, and can tell you at length exactly how much famine there was. But that's outside the scope of this song, and even if you don't holler the audience participation bits in the middle (which I've marked in italics), I think you can enjoy this song.
By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young girl calling,
"Michael, they are taking you away.
For you stole Trevelyan
so the young might see the morn.
Now your prison ship
lies waiting in the bay."
Low lie the fields of Athenry
Where once we saw the small free birds
(Hey, baby, see the free birds fly?)
Our love was on the wing,
We had dreams and songs to sing.
It's so lonely 'round the fields of Athenry.
By a lonely prison wall,
I heard a young man calling,
"Nothing matters, Mary, when you're free!
Against the famine and the crown
(Fuck the crown!)
I rebelled. They cut me down.
Now, you must raise our child with diginity.
By a lonely harbour wall,
She watched the last star falling.
As the prison ship sailed out against the sky.
She can live, and hope, and pray
For her love in Botany Bay.
But it's lonely in the fields of Athenry.
To my friends in England: I hope that I haven't offended you. I know there are two sides to every story, and I know that this only represents one side of a complex issue. But then, nationalist political folk songs rarely treat any subject objectively. And it is a great tune, isn't it?