From the recording ANIAR

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An Irish Mother

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The Mother's Song.

This is a poem by Percy French that was first put to music in the 1960s by the composer Philip Green for the Irish tenor Brendan O’Dowda.

I have put new music to the poem to reflect my own Irish American experience .

It is dedicated to all Irish mothers who for centuries endured the loss of their children to the boat and in more recent years the Airplane.


An Irish Mother

lyrics by Percy French
Music by Peadar MacMathùna

A wee slip drawin' water,
The ould man at the plough,
No grown-up son nor daughter,
That's the way we're farmin' now.
"No work and little pleasure"
Was the cry before they wint,
Now they're gettin' both full measure,
So I ought to be contint.

Great wages men is givin'
In the land beyant the say,
But 'tis lonely — lonely livin'
Whin the childher is away.

Och the baby in the cradle,
Blue eyes and curlin' hair,
God knows I'd give a gra'dle
To have little Pether there;
No doubt he'd find it funny
Lyin' here upon me arm,
Him — that's earnin' the good money,
On a Californy farm.

Six pounds it was or sivin
He sint last quarter day,
But 'tis lonely -- - lonely livin'
Whin the childher is away.

God is good — no better,
And the Divil might be worse,
Each month there comes a letther
Bringing something for the purse.
And the ould man's heart rejoices
When I read they're doin' fine,
But it's oh! to hear their voices,
And to feel their hands in mine.
To see the cattle driven'
And the young ones makin' hay,
'Tis a lonely land to live in
When the childher is away.
Whin the shadows do be fallin'
On the ould man there an' me,
'Tis hard to keep from callin'
"Come in, childher, to yer tea!'
I can almost hear them comin'
Mary, Kate and little Con --
Och! but I'm the foolish woman,
Sure they're all grown up an' gone.

That our sins may be forgiven,
An' not wan go asthray, I doubt I'd stay in Heaven
If them childher was away