Remember Dubh Loch

John Tunney


This example of "Remember Dubh Loch" is performed by Brian Hart on his CD An Lochin
Please refer to Cantaria's Copyright information

Notes from Brian:
This newly composed song from John Tunney, son of the famous Paddy Tunney (RIP), exemplifies how song transmits a host of information -- emotional, historical, and otherwise.  It is sung to an old marching air and recalls the tragic events that occurred around Dubh Loch (Black Lake) during the winter of 1847 -- the peak of The Great Hunger -- in Co. Mayo.  I was fortunate enough to hear both Paddy and John sing this song luibin-style at the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Listowel, Co. Kerry, just a short time before Paddy passed away.  I changed the last line to reflect the tragic nature of war and famine that occur still today.

You may hear them speak about Mozambique and Africa's famine tide
Of how drought and greed which few take heed have sapped a continent's pride
And while millions cry, ten thousands die and our governments take no stand
But the tale I'll tell is of a similar hell that happened in our own land.

Early spring in black forty-nine the country was on the rag
Day and night relentless blight had consumed the tattie crop
And while cattle and grain were exported to Spain, and food lay piled in stores
In middle south and round about, the people they perished in scores.

Crowds were gathered in Louisberg hoping for some relief
Twas said that the poor law guardians could end their piteous grief
These gentlemen fine were meeting to dine in Delphi, ten miles away
Children women and men, six hundred strong set out on that fateful day

Crossing the glen keen in full flood, some fell by the river side
 And going along the mountain road still more collapsed and died
Exhausted and weak, scarcely able to speak, they thronged into Delphi town
And waited in mass for food or a pass to enter the workhouse ground

But after his meal of wine and veal, the guardian addressed them all
There was no food here, and he greatly feared no room within the work house walls
They would have to go, hail rain or snow, back to their homes walk back
Dismayed and afraid, despair in their hearts, they set out upon the track

Like harvest sheaves or rotten leaves, they fell dying along the road
As dark drew in the snow it came down and the night was bitter cold
Going along the cliff, the wind it  was stiff, driving on the blinding sleet
Hundreds were swept into Dubh Loch's depths, a horror beyond belief

Next day relieving officers had a terrible sight in store
With bodies strewn along the route, and littering Dubh Loch's shore
Whole families dead for want of being fed, an injustice, a crying shame
A forgotten sign to our own time, when we witness the very same

From the Sudan to Afghanistan, famine victims they wait in need
And a country like ours that knows this curse must surely take the lead
Remember that walk or remember Dubh Loch let our banners be unfurled
Against selfish gain and indifference to pain, but for justice through out the world.