Patrick Sheehan

Written by Charles Joseph Kikham about 1860 

Audio

This example of "Patrick Sheehan" is performed by Andy M. Stewart on his album, By the Hush (1982)
Please refer to Cantaria's Copyright information

Words, music and chords appear in The Andy M. Stewart Collection, pub. 1998

This powerful ballad describes how a young man is forced by eviction and near-starvation to join the English Army, although his only wish is to continue farming in Ireland. He is blinded at the Battle of Sebastopol in the Crimea, but knows he can never return to Aherlow, as he would face the rejections of his neighbours for having enlisted as a soldier.

Charles Joseph Kickham, born in Tipperary in 1830, who became a leader-writer for the "Irish People" - a paper concerned with the Fenian Movement. For the humanitarian outflowings of his pen, Kickham was sentenced by the Government to fourteen years' penal servitude. His comment on the conclusion of his trial was terse: "I have endeavoured" he said "to serve Ireland, and now I am prepared to suffer for Ireland". Four years after his conviction he was released.

This song is traditional in Ireland, and also in the Hebridies. Andy learned this tune from a man from the Isle of Lewis, the haunting melody is quite different than the one more commonly heard in Ireland -- the tune called "The Homes of Donegal"
Here is the .midi file and the melody score for the Irish traditional tune for Patrick Sheehan

 

My name is Patrick Sheehan, and my years are thirty-four; 
Tipperary is my native place, not far from Galtymore; 
I came of honest parents, but now they're lying low; 
Though' many's the pleasant days we spent in the Glen of Aherlow. 

My father died; I closed his eyes, outside the cabin door; 
For the landlord and the sheriff too, were there the day before, 
And then my lovin'  mother, and my sisters three, also, 
Were forced to go with broken hearts, from the Glen of Aherlow 

For three long months, in search of work, I wandered far and near; 
I then went to the poorhouse to see my mother dear; 
The news I heard near broke my heart, but still in all my woe, 
I blessed the friends who made their graves in the Glen of Aherlow. 

Bereft of home and kith and kin, with plenty all around, 
I starved within my cabin, and slept upon the ground; 
But cruel as my lot was, I never did hardship know, 
Till I joined the English army, far away from Aherlow. 

"Rouse up there," cried the corporal, "Ya lazy Irish hound! 
Why don't you hear the bugle, its call to arms to sound? "
I found I had been dreaming of the days long, long ago, 
And I woke upon Sebastopol, and not in Aherlow 

I tried to find my musket, how dark I thought the night! 
O blessed God! It wasn't dark, it was the broad daylight! 
And when I found that I was blind, my tears began to flow, 
And I longed for even a pauper's grave in the Glen of Aherlow. 

A poor neglected mendicant, I wander Dublin's streets
My nine months' pension it being out, I beg from all I meet; 
As I joined my country's tyrants, my face I can never show, 
Amongst my dear old neighbors in the Glen of Aherlow. 

So Irish youths, dear countrymen, take heed in what I say; 
For if you join the English ranks, you'll surely rue the day
And whenever you're  tempted, a-soldiering to go. 
Remember poor blind Sheehan from the Glen of Aherlow.