> Folk Music > Songs > The Boys of Barr na Sráide
The Boys of Barr na Sráide
[ Roud 24291 ; Sigerson Clifford (1913–1985)]
The Boys of Barr na Sráide is an song from a poem written by Irish poet Sigerson Clifford. It is named after a street (Irish: Barr na Sráide, meaning ‘top of the street’) in Cahersiveen in County Kerry, Ireland. The song was first released in the 1950s on Irish radio by singer Seán Ó Síocháin. It was published in Clifford’s book Ballads of a Bogman, 2nd edition, in 1986.
Arcady (with Niamh Parsons in lead) sang The Boys of Barr na Sráide on their 1995 album Many Happy Returns. Niam Parsons also sang it ar the Marine Hall, Fleetwood, Lancashire, during the Fylde Folk Festival 2005, which was released on her and Graham Dunne’s 2005 album Live at Fylde.
Ciarán Boyle sang The Boys of Barr na Sráide in 2012 on his Hallamshire Traditions album Bright Flame. He noted:
Again my father sang this song—A favourite of mine. It is from the writing of a Kerry poet Sigerson Clifford now long deceased. I don’t know who wrote the tune or when for that matter. I like the obvious pride and sense of belonging which he writes about in this song. The ‘wran’ refers to the wren (and the wren boys) which was hunted on Boxing Day, an old tradition which I like to think was more about merry making than hunting this small and beautiful bird. Packie McGinley of Ardara, Co Donegal, sent me a recording of the song sung by Francis Byrne which I really enjoyed and which, in turn helped to form my own version.
Niamh Parsons sing The Boys of Barr na Sráide
Oh the town it climbs the mountain and looks out upon the sea,
And sleeping time or waking, ‘tis there I long to be,
To walk again that kindly street, the place where life began
And the boys of Barr na Sráide went hunting for the wran.
With cudgels stout we roamed about to hunt the Droilín
We searched for birds in every furze from Letter to Dooneen;
We sang for joy beneath the sky, life held no print or plan,
And we boys of Barr na Sráide, a-hunting for the wran.
And when the hills were bleeding and the rifles were aflame
To the rebel homes of Kerry, the Saxon stranger came;
But the men who dared the Auxies and who beat the Black and Tan
Were the boys of Barr na Sráide, a-hunting for the wran.
And here’s a toast to them tonight, the lads who laughed with me,
By the groves of Carhan River or the slopes of Beenatee;
John Dawley and Batt Andy, and the Sheehans Con and Dan
And the boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wran.
And now they toil on foreign soil, where they have gone their way,
Deep in the heart of London town or over in Broadway;
And I am left to sing their deeds and praise them while I can,
Those boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wran.
And when the wheel of life runs down and peace comes over me,
O lay me down in that old town between the hills and sea;
I’ll take my sleep in those green fields the place my life began
Where the boys of Barr na Sráide went hunting for the wran.