Dear Old Donegal

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"Dear Old Donegal" is a traditional Irish folk song popularised by American singer Bing Crosby and written by Steve Graham. The song has an 'upbeat' rhythm and is meant to be the words of a poor Irishman who has to leave his homeland to go to America, however, he gets to return to his native County Donegal after becoming successful in the United States.

Dear Old Donegal was also performed by Judy Garland, Zina Bethune, and Vic Damone as part of the All-Purpose Holiday Medley on The Judy Garland Show in 1963.[1] It was parodied by Allan Sherman on his album "My Son, the Folk Singer", as "Shake Hands With Your Uncle Max", using Jewish references rather than Irish. The tune of the song was used in the US comedy Family Guy for the song "Drunken Irish Dad", which was sung by Peter Griffin in the episode "Peter's Two Dads". The song was even nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards.[2]

Recordings[edit]

Forrest Tucker sang the song in his role as Sergeant O'Rourke in one episode of the television series F Troop. It was also sung by Don Knotts as "Barney Fife" in an episode of "The Andy Griffith Show" (when he was dressed up like a woman to show what a pushover the Mayberry Bank was).

Its latest incarnation is a comedic version about an evil capitalist arriving in Hell, where he meets all his role models in the trade, by Mikhail Horowitz and Gilles Malkine, parodists from Woodstock, NY, on their 2007 CD "Poor, On Tour, & Over 54".

Lyrics[edit]

Many versions of the lyrics exist. Some have the singer's 'sister Kate' and the girl at the garden gate as separate people, different lengths of time since the singer left Ireland, and multiple versions of the names sung in the body of the song.

Crosby's version (Brunswick 03753-B) which popularized the song had the following lyrics:[3]

Three years ago this very day,
I left the port of Cork,
And on a ship from old Erin's isle,
I landed in New York,
Without a friend to meet me there,
The stranger on the shore.
But I wore an honest Irish heart,
And fortune came galore,
So here I am, back again,
On dear old Erin's isle.
The friends, they meet me on the quay,
And they greet me with a smile,
For there's faces there that I surely forgot,
For I was so long away,
But me mother, she introduces all,
And this is what she say,
Shake hands with your Uncle Mike, me boy,
Shake hands with your sister, Kate,
And this is the girl you used to swing,
Down on the garden gate,
Shake hands with all of the neighbours,
And kiss the colleens all,
You're as welcome as the flowers in May,
To dear old Donegal,
Well, they gave a party when I came back,
And they came from near and far,
And the road was lined for near a mile,
With Irish jauntin' cars,
And the whiskey flowed like buttermilk,
To fill our hearts with joy,
And the piper played an Irish reel,
To greet the Yankee boy,
So tomorrow off to church I'll go,
And wedded I will be,
To my pretty little colleen,
Sweet Biddy McGee,
For Biddy was true and faithful,
To her Barney o'er the sea,
And we'll join the harp and shamrocks,
For the stars of liberty.
There came Branigan, Flannigan, Milligan, Gilligan,
Duffy, McGuffy, Malachy, Mahone,
Rafferty, Lafferty, Donnelly, Connelly,
Dooley, O'Hooley, Muldowney, Malone,
Colonna, O'Hona, Herlanahan, Flanihan,
Fagan, O'Hagan, O'Hoolihan, Flynn,
Shanahan, Manahan, Fogarty, Hogarty,
Kelly, O'Skelly, McGuinness, McGuinne.
(Pat O'Brien was late!)
Then shake the hand of your Uncle Mike,
And the hand of your sister, Kate.
And I'll hug and I'll squeeze as much as I please,
The girl on the garden gate.
Then invite all the neighbours,
To the weddin', great and small,
And I'll live content, and pay no rent,
In dear old Donegal.

The most common version of the lyrics found online run as follows:

It seems like only yesterday,
Since I sailed from out of Cork,
A wanderer from Erin's isle,
I landed in New York,
There wasn't a soul to greet me there,
For A stranger on the shore,
But the Irish luck was with me boy's,
And riches came galore,
And now that I'm going back again,
To dear old Erin's isle,
Me friends will greet me on the pier,
And greet me with a smile,
There'll be faces there that I Never knew,
I've been so long away,
But me mother will introduce them all,
And this is what she'll say,
Shake hands with your Uncle Mike, me boy,
And there's your sister, Kate,
Sure she is the girl you used to swing,
Down by the garden gate,
Shake hands with all of the neighbours,
And kiss the colleens all,
You're as welcome as the flowers in May,
To dear old Donegal,
They'll give a party when I come home,
And They'll come from near and far,
And line the roads for miles and miles,
With Irish jauntin' cars,
The Whiskey'll flow like buttermilk,
We'll fill your hearts with joy,
And The piper will play an Irish tune,
To greet the Yankee boy,
We'll dance and sing the whole night long,
Such fun was never seen,
The boys'll be decked in corduroy,
The colleens decked in green,
There'll be thousands there that I never saw,
I've been so long away,
And me mother will introduce them all,
And this is what she'll say,
Shake hands with your Uncle Mike, me boy,
And there's your sister, Kate,
Sure she is the girl you used to swing,
Down by the garden gate,
Shake hands with all of the neighbours,
And kiss the colleens all,
You're as welcome as the flowers in May,
To dear old Donegal,
Meet Branigan, Fannigan, Milligan, Gilligan,
Duffy, McCuffy, Malachy, Mahone,
Rafferty, Lafferty, Donnelly, Connelly,
Dooley, O'Hooley, Muldowney, Malone,
Madigan, Cadigan, Lanihan, Flanihan,
Fagan, O'Hagan, O'Hoolihan, Flynn,
Shanihan, Manihan, Fogarty, Hogarty,
Kelly, O'Kelly, McGuinness, McGuinne,
Shake hands with your Uncle Mike, me boy,
And there's your sister, Kate.
Sure she is the girl you used to swing
Down by the garden gate.
Shake hands with all of the neighbours,
And kiss the colleens all;
You're as welcome as the flowers in May
To dear old Donegal.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Larsen, Ken (2007). "Judy Garland TV Songs". Judy Garland Database. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  2. ^ "Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour)". Emmys.org. 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  3. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu-rWOx4rbA