Erin Grá mo Chroí

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  • Teideal (Title): Erin Grá mo Chroí.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): none.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 14056.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): none.
  • 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): unavailable.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Well, this is about an emigrant who was in New York and he was looking back, how it broke his mother’s heart that he had to go away and he was thinking of the turf fire burning at home at night while he was in a foreign land.

At the setting of the sun, when my daily work was done
I wandered to the sea shore for a walk
I being all alone, I sat down upon a stone
To gaze on the scenery of New York.

Oh Erin grá mo chroí1, you’re the only land for me
You’re the fairest spot my eyes did e’er behold
You’re the bright star of the west, and the land St Patrick blessed
You’re far dearer than silver or of gold.

The turf will burn bright on the hearth at home tonight
The snowflakes will fall fast on a winter’s day
St Patrick’s day will come and the shamrock will be worn
In my own native isle so far away.


It broke my mother’s heart when from her I went to part
Will I ever see my darling any more?
Not until my bones are laid in a cold and silent grave
In my own native isle so far away.


This what I call Erin grá mo chroí, which means Ireland, Love of my Heart… Most of the songs I sing, first of all are Gaelic, secondly they are sad, because at the time these songs were composed and made, it was a crime to speak the Gaelic language. It was an offence under sentence of death to speak the Gaelic language and, of course, the people were persecuted in every way if they did speak the Gaelic language… That’s why all the songs are sad. Mostly about people who suffered, you know, all the time. Because, I’m afraid they had nothing to laugh about them times.


1. Love of my heart.

Tom Munnelly remarks that in his collecting days he ‘encountered this song in practically every county in Ireland even though it seldom appears in print’.

As regards the sentence of death for people speaking the Irish language: there were indeed harsh sanctions against the speaking of Irish — especially if you were a child at school during a certain period — but it is doubtful that was ever formally a capital offence. Joe did, however, make this and similar claims on a number of occasions.

This recording was issued on The Road from Conamara (Cló Iar-Chonnachta CICD 143 / Topic TSCD 518D).