Kilkelly with Lyrics





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Published on Nov 24, 2008

My interpretation in images of a great song about Irish emigration to the USA in the mid 1800s, after the famine. The song is based on letters between the ancestors of the writer Peter Jones. I sang this song regularly in sessions in the 90s.

You can see the letters which inspired Peter Jones to write the song and also Pat McNamara's diary here:


The following is taken from this website:

'Back in the 1970s or early 1980s, Peter Jones, an American-born composer whose great-grandfather was John Coyne from the general Kilkelly area, found a batch of old letters tied together in a box in the attic of his parents home in America.
These letters had all been posted in Kilkelly and as he poured through them he was overcome with the emotion which re-united him in an extraordinary way with the land of his forebearers.
The end result of Peters deliberations was Kilkelly, Ireland, the poignant story of a father who sees his sons emigrate from Mayo to America, never to return. But the words of friendship he so lovingly despatched, with the help of Pat McNamara his friend, convey so much beauty and hidden heartache that they stand out in the classic mould.
The words in the song are taken directly from Mr. Coynes letters as dictated to Pat McNamara and thus carry a powerful resonance which cannot fail to touch the psyche of people raised here in the rural West.
A whole history of a family is unfurled before our eyes . And the song finishes with the remarkably touching lines of the brother at home finally taking over the fathers duties in writing to the lad in America - And its funny the way he kept talkin about you, he called for you at the end.
The song was first recorded here by Danny Doyle and a number of other versions, including one by Jimmy Whittington from Charlestown, have also been put on albums. Peter Jones, the writer of the song, visited Kilkelly a few years ago and was honoured by the locals on that occasion.'

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