> Folk Music > Songs > The Poor Irish Stranger / Erin, Sad Erin

The Poor Irish Stranger / Erin, Sad Erin

[ 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.

Niamh Parsons sang Poor Irish Stranger in 2005 on her Green Linnet album The Old Simplicity. She noted:

The version here is a mixture of two songs. One is a ballad that was published on a Broadside by James Lindsay of King Street, Glasgow, and probably sold for one penny, between 1852 and 1859. I found another version in the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Merrion Square in Dublin and married them together.

Jon Wilks sang Erin, Sad Erin on his 2023 album Before I Knew What Had Begun I Had Already Lost. He noted:

In July 2022, Paul Sartin put on a concert for refugee aid. Around the time he asked me to take part, I had been looking through the EFDSS archives. I found this song of migration, which I subsequently performed, having learned it from the singing of Hazel Askew. It was collected in 1908 by Cecil Sharp from 68-year-old John Murphy of Tipperary, an inhabitant at St Marylebone Workhouse. The yearning violin is performed by Akito Goto.

Lyrics

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)

Niamh Parsons sings Poor Irish Stranger

O pity the fate of a poor Irish stranger,
Who wanders so far from his home,
Who sighs for protection from want, woe, and danger,
Not knowing which way for to roam.
Yet I'll never return to old Ireland's green bowers,
For tyranny tramples the sweetest of flowers,
That once gave me comfort in loneliest hours,
They are gone I shall ne'er see them more.

With wonder I gazed on yon proud lofty building,
As in grandeur it rose from its lord,
With sorrow I beheld my fair garden yielding
The choicest of fruit for his foe.
But, where is my father's lone cottage of clay,
Wherein I've spent many a long happy day.
Alas! has his lordship contrived it away?
Yes, it's gone, I shall never see it more.

When nature was seen in the sloe bush and bramble,
All smiling in beautiful bloom,
Over the fields without danger I used to ramble
And lavish amidst her perfume
Or ranged through the woods where the gay feather'd throng
Did joyfully sing out their loud echoing song—
The days of my childhood passed sweetly along,
Now they're gone I shall ne'er see them more!

When the sloe and the berries hung ripe on the bushes
I have gathered them off without harm,
I have gone to the field and shorn the green rushes,
Preparing for winter's cold storm
Along with my friends telling tales of delight,
Beguiling the hours of the long winter's night.
Those days gave me pleasure—I could them invite;
Now they're gone, I shall ne'er see them more.

Farewell to Erin and those I left weeping
Upon that disconsolate shore
Farewell to the grave where my father lies sleeping
That ground I shall dearly adore,
Farewell to each pleasure that I had at home,
Farewell now, a stranger in England I roam.
O give me my past joy or give me a tomb,
Ye in pity I ask for no more.

Jon Wilks sings Erin, Sad Erin

Erin, sad Erin, it grieves me to ponder
The wrongs of thy injured isle.
Thy sons in their thousands deploring do wander
On shores far away in exile.
O give me the power to cross o’er the main,
America might yield me some comfort from pain.
Though I’m only lamenting whilst here I remain,
For the joys I shall not see no more.

With wonder I gazed at that lofty high mountain
As in grandeur it rose o’er it’s lord.
With sorrow I beheld my own garden yielding,
The choicest of fruits for his board.
Oh, where is my father’s low cottage of clay
Where I have spent many a long happy day?
Alas has his lordship contrived it away,
It is gone I shall not see no more.

The sloe and the berry hung ripe on the bushes,
I’ve gathered them off without harm.
And I went to the fields for to view the green bushes,
Preparing for winter’s cold storms.
And I’ve sat by the fire on a cold frosty night
Along with my friends telling tales of delight.
Those days gave me pleasure and I could invite,
But they’re gone I shall not see no more.

So, farewell then to Erin and those I’ve left weeping
Upon this disconsolate shore.
Farewell to the grave where my father lies sleeping,
The ground I do dearly adore.
Farewell then to pleasure, I’ve once had a home,
Farewell, now a stranger in England to roam.
Oh give me my freedom or give me my tomb,
Friends, in pity, I ask for no more.