> Folk Music > Songs > I Have Wandered in Exile / Sweet Inniscarra

I Have Wandered in Exile / Sweet Inniscarra

[ Roud 12492 ; Mudcat 24568 ; John Fitzgerald (1825-1910)]

Peta Webb recorded I Have Wandered in Exile (Sweet Inniscarra) in 1973 as the title track of her Topic album I Have Wandered in Exile. A 1989 recording of this song made by John Howson was included in 1089 on her Musical Traditions anthology The Magpie’s Nest. Reg Hall and A.L. Lloyd noted:

So many people dispossessed and driven on to stony soil. So many people at odds with authority. Small wonder that themes of emigration, exile and estrangement are prominent in Irish sentiment and Irish song. Some of the songs are majestic, some maudlin, few written by exiles. The words of this one are more conventional than the handsome melody, a Re-mode (‘Dorian’) sprig of that vast tune family of which Nir ghabh se d’Eochaill (Petrie No. 1418) and Youghal Harbour (O’Lochlainn No. 8) are prominent.

The O’Halloran Brothers sang Sweet Inniscarra in 1976 on their Topic album The Men of the Island. A.L. Lloyd noted:

An exile song. Again there’s a geographical surprise in the song, which refers to “Columbia’s wild forests and lndiana’s spicy bowers” instead of lndia’s. The traveller, homesick, wanders afar, and when he returns to his native village he finds it desolate, with “long grasses grown on the step of the door”. Perhaps it refers to the famine time of the mid-nineteenth century, when so many deserted villages fell into ruins. Where is Inniscarra? Does the song concern Enniskerry, in Co. Wicklow? The tune is a member of that vast melody family of which Youghal Harbour is a fair representative, and the prison song of The Old Triangle is a disreputable and down-at-heel second cousin.

Niamh Parsons sang Sweet Inniscarra in 2002 on her Green Linnet album Heart’s Desire. She noted:

Jackie Kenny (Callan) gave me this song when we used to sing in Hughes in Dublin. My mother tells me my grandfather used to sing it. The pronunciation of Inniscarra is slightly different in that part of the world, I’m told.

Rosie Doonan and Ben Murray sang Innishcarra on their 2004 CD Mill Lane.

Sam Lee & Notes Inégales sang I Have Wandered in Exile on their 2018 CD Van Diemen’s Land.


Niamh Parsons sings Sweet Inniscarra

I have traveled in exile ’mid cold-hearted strangers,
Far away from my home and the beautiful Lee.
I have struggled alone ’mid all hardship and danger
And braved every storm by land and by sea.

Through Colombia’s wild forests to India’s spicy bowers,
By the great foreign rivers where the sands are of gold.
Yet I think on thee still ’mid the birds and the flowers,
I love you and will ’til this fond heart grows cold.

I have roved with fair maidens with dark flowing tresses
And the beautiful eyes have shone kindly on me.
Yet I think with regret of the smiles and caresses
Of that fair-haired young maiden who dwelt by the Lee.

But since I’ve returned she is not in her bower
Where the river flows past with its calm shiny waves
I have called her in vain but the ivy covered towers
Of Sweet Inniscarra o’er shadows her grave.

The home of my childhood to ruin it has fallen
And the dear ones that blessed it will greet me no more.
But I think on them still, joyous visions recalling,
Though the tall grass is growing at the step on the door.

But I’ll rest with them soon with the shamrock above me
From my dear native Cork no more will I roam.
’Til I’m laid in my grave with the dear ones that love me
As in death they will welcome their wander home