Back to the Song Index
Kilkelly, Ireland
Peter Jones
notes: Among the saddest songs I’ve heard. This is based upon a
bundle of letters discovered in an attic apartment in Washington DC.
Kilkelly , Ireland
Peter Jones

E         E7        A        Am      E           B7             E
Kilkelly Ireland, 18 and 60, my dear, my loving son, John:
                             E7                  A             Am
Your good friend, the Schoolmaster, Pat Macnamara’s
   E             B7                       E
So good as to write these words down
                          E7            A                Am
Your brothers have all gone to find work in England
    E               E7            B7
The house is so empty and sad
E                   E7         A          Am
The crop of potatoes is sorely infected
 E            B7              E
A third to a half of them bad
                     E7               A            Am
And your sister, Bridgett and Patrick O’Donnal
    E              E7           B7
Are goin’ to be married in June
E                       E7             A                Am
And your mother says not to work on the railway
    E             B7                   E
And be sure to come on home soon...

Kilkelly Ireland, 18 and 70, my dear, my loving son, John:
Hello to your Mrs. and to your four children
And may they grow healthy and strong
Your brother Michael has got into a wee bit of trouble
I suppose that he never will learn
Because of the dampness there’s no turf to speak of
And now we have nothing to burn
Bridgett is happy you named a child for her
Although she has six of her own
You say you’ve found work, but you don’t say what kind
Or when you will be comin’ home...

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 80, My dear, my loving son, John:
I’m sorry to give you the very sad news
Your mother is gone
We buried her at the church in Kilkelly
Your brothers and Bridgett were there
You don’t have to worry, she died very quickly
Remember her in your prayers
And it’s so good to hear your brother Michael’s returnin’
With money, he’s sure to buy land
For the crop has been poor and the people are sellin’
At any price that they can...

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 90
My dear, my loving son, John:
I suppose that I must be close on to eighty
It’s thirty years since you’ve gone
Because of all of the money that you send me
I’m still living out on my own
Michael has built himself a fine house
And Bridgetts’ children have grown
And thank you for sending your family picture
They’re lovely young women and men
You say that you might even come for a visit
What joy to see you again

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 92
My dear brother, John:
I’m sorry I didn’t write sooner to tell you
Father’s passed on
He was living with Bridgett, she says he was cheerful
And happy right down to the end
You should have seen him playin’ with the grandchildren
Of Pat MacNamara, your friend
And we buried him alongside of Mother
Down at the Kilkelly churchyard
Oh, he was a strong and a feisty old man
Considerin’ his life was so hard

And it’s funny the way he kept talking about you
He called for you at the end

Why don’t you think about coming to visit
We’d all love to see you again