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The Fields of Athenry

“The Fields of Athenry” has become widely known as a popular anthem for Irish sports fans at home and abroad. This emotionally-charged ballad was written in 1979 by Pete St. John and came to prominence particularly through the singing of Paddy Reilly. The song is set during the devastating potato famine of the 1840s in which millions died or were forced to emigrate. The lyrics are sung from the perspective of a man in Athenry, Co. Galway, convicted of stealing food from the local landlord to feed his starving family. As a result he has been sentenced to transportation to the Botany Bay penal colony in Australia. He calls out poignantly from the prison ship to his wife and for the welfare of his children – but to no avail.

Full Tune: Tin Whistle