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The Poor Irish Stranger

[ Roud 1629 ; Master title: The Poor Irish Stranger ; Ballad Index OCon111A ; Bodleian Roud 1629 ; Wiltshire 302 ; trad.]

Andy M. Stewart sang The Irish Stranger in 1997 on his Green Linnet album Donegal Rain. He noted:

I came across this little gem of a song in Dublin in 1996, in an old song collection. It highlights the struggle of the ordinary folk whose simple lifestyle and humble possessions, according to this song, still attracted the greedy attentions of the land-owning class. Evictions were commonplace in the 18th century in both Ireland and Scotland and many had to “take to the road”, or sell themselves into bonded servitude fora period of years to pay for their passage to the Americas. In spite of its sad subject matter the song somehow gives me the impression that its central character will go on and survive, however resignedly.


Andy M. Stewart sings The Irish Stranger

Oh pity the fate of the poor Irish stranger
Who wanders afar from his home,
When he sighs for protection from want, woe, and danger,
Not knowing what way for to roam.
I ne'er will return to old Ireland's green bowers
Where tyranny tramples the fairest of flow'rs.
Those dreams give me pleasure in the loneliest hours,
They are gone I shall ne'er see them more.

Oh where can I shelter from want, woe, and anger?
Oh where can I find me a home?
Oh must I still wander a pitiful stranger,
Unhonoured, unwanted, alone?
Oh where is my father's low cottage of clay
Alone where I spent many long, happy days?
Alas, 'twas his lordship who contrived it away,
It is gone, I shall see it no more.

When the sloe and the berries hung ripe on the bushes
I'd gather them off without harm.
I've gone to the fields where I've shorn the green rushes,
Preparing for cold winter's storm.
Along with my friends telling tales of delight
I'll sit by the fire on a cold winter's night.
Those days give me comfort though I may invite,
They are gone, I shall ne'er see them more.

(repeat first verse)