Play recording: Valley of Knockanure, The
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- Teideal (Title): Valley of Knockanure, The.
- Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): none.
- Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
- Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 17752.
- Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
- Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
- Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
- Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
- Catagóir (Category): song.
- Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
- Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Ewan Mac Coll and Peggy Seeger.
- Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 1963.
- Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): London, England.
- Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): private.
- Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): Peggy Seeger.
- Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.
And you know in Ireland every six months, the priest comes around to give advice and confessions to the old people, you see, in the cottages. And there’s one particular house they come to every time. Well, this day they came to Knockanure in County Kerry and it was in 1922, and there was two wee lads, Eamonn Dalton and Danny Welch, was on the run up in the hills, and five lorry-loads of Black and Tans came to hunt them. And they had a boy, a fourteen-year-old boy called Con Dee bringing them messages to tell them how the Tans was behaving, and the Tans, fifty Tans, hundred Tans, I should say, surrounded them with rifles and they told Con Dee to get away some way, and bring a message to the village that they were willing to die to save the village. And the two fellows died. But the people, the old people coming, as they do there, they come along, old women and men; and to spare them, the two lads fought to the death with a hundred Black and Tans up on the hill and saved the village from ruin, because if they ran back to the village, the lads were afraid the Tans would come back and probably kill innocent people.
You may boast and speak about Easter week or the heroes of Ninety-eight,
Of the gallant men who roamed the glen to victory or defeat.
The men who died on the scaffold high were outlawed on the moor.
Not a word was spoken of two young lads in the valley of Knockanure.
‘Twas on a summer’s evening those two young lads sat down.
They were waiting on a brief despatch to come from Tralee town.
It wasn’t long ’til Lyons came on saying, ‘Time’s not mine nor yours.
Look out – we are surrounded in the valley of Knockanure.’
Young Dalton grabbed a rifle and by Welch’s side he stood.
He gazed across the valley and over toward the hill.
In the glen where armed men with rifles fired galore,
There were Dalton, Dan and the Black and Tans in the valley of Knockanure.
One shot from Dalton’s rifle sent a machine gun out of play.
He turned to young Lyons and said ‘Now try and get away.
Keep wide of rocks, keep close to nooks, and cross by Freeny’s moor,
And Danny and I will fight or die on the valley of Knockanure.’
The summer sun was sinking fast on Kerry by the sea.
The pale moon it was rising over sweet Tralee.
The twinkling stars they shone so far out on the dreary moor,
And when Dalton died, the banshee cried in the valley of Knockanure.
God bless our bold Sinn Féiners, wherever they may be.
Don’t forget to kneel and pray for that hero brave Con Dee.
He ran among the Kerry hills to the rich men and the poor.
Salt tears he shed for those he left dead in the valley of Knockanure.
Our hero boys were stout and bold, no counsel would they take.
They ran among the lonely glens where the Black and Tans did lay.
The women of the uplands gazed out across the moor,
Watching Dalton and Dan fighting fifty-to-one in the valley of Knockanure.
And ’twas God who sent those boys to life, but did not say how long,
For well we knew that England’s crew would shoot them right or wrong.
With our rifles fixed right up to fire and bullets quick and sure,
We’ll have revenge for those young men on the valley of Knockanure.
Young Eamonn Dalton and Danny Welch were known both far and wide,
On every hill and every glen they were always side by side.
A republic bold they did uphold, they were outlawed on the moor,
And side by side they fought and died in the valley of Knockanure.
I met with Dalton’s mother, those words to me did say,
‘May the lord have mercy on my son, he was shot in the getaway.
If I only could kiss his cold, cold lips my aching heart would cure,
And I’d lay his body down to rest in the valley of Knockanure.’
There has been some confusion about authorship of this song; see discussion at mudcat. A contributor who calls himself ‘Big Tim’ posted the following there on 8 May 2004:
‘The four IRA men were on the run. They got careless and used a main road, rather than crossing the fields as they usually did. They were going to the MacMahon house to collect a bicycle, about halfway between Athea and Listowel. They were surprised by the Tans and lined up and shot in cold blood. They had just come from Mass and Communion in Athea, as they had done for the previous four days during a ‘Mission.’ They were unarmed at the time, so had to surrender. The first to be shot was Jerry Lyons. When this happened, Con (Cornelius) Dee decided, as he was going to die anyway, to make a run for it. He did, and almost immediately took a bullet in the thigh but managed to keep going. He ran for about three miles and survived. He was never recaptured but remained in hiding until the Truce.
‘Gortaglanna is the name of the crossroads and bridge (where the men were sitting chatting when captured). Knockanure is the relevant townland. It’s fairly flat farmland, not mountainous as implied by the song.
‘This background is based on accounts by witnesses. Mainly, one of the MacMahon family, who noted the Tan commander’s Scottish accent. In June 1921 Con Dee made a sworn statement to a Justice of the Peace. In 1958 he published his account of the event in the ‘Shannonside Annual.’ (These local publications are held by Tralee library). The River Lee, mentioned in the song, flows near Tralee (it’s not of course the BIG River Lee!). The River Feale is a few miles south. Often they are mistakenly sung as ‘field and lea.’
‘Tim Leahy worked as a railway signalman in Listowel, where he lived. He played the button accordian and wrote songs. Dr Bryan MacMahon was an academic and writer. There is quite a lot about him online. Some of Paddy Drury’s stuff is also online, including his most famous, risque verse! He was a spailpín.’
This recording was issued on The Road from Conamara (Cló Iar-Chonnachta CICD 143 / Topic TSCD 518D).