Galway Bay (song)
"Galway Bay" is the name of two different songs.
The first, "(My Own Dear) Galway Bay", is traditionally more popular and known in the Galway Bay area. The second song is more popular outside of Ireland.
"(My Own Dear) Galway Bay"
This song is known alternatively as Galway Bay, My Own Dear Galway Bay, or the 'old Galway Bay'.
It was composed in London by Frank A. Fahy (1854–1935), a native of Kinvara (Co. Galway) on the shores of Galway Bay. It was originally written to air of "Skibbereen" but is now better known sung to a different air written by Tony Small.
This separate song was written by Dr. Arthur Colahan in Leicester in 1947 and was popularised by Bing Crosby. Crosby changed some of the lyrics so as to be less political and it became a huge hit around the world with Irish emigrants. The copyright of this version is held by Box and Cox Publications of London. A humorous version was created by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. A reference of note to Colahan's song is in The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York". Chloë Agnew of Celtic Woman also covered the song in the group's show Songs from the Heart.
Lyrics to the Fahy song
- 'Tis far away I am today from scenes I roamed a boy,
- And long ago the hour I know I first saw Illinois;
- But time nor tide nor waters wide can wean my heart away,
- For ever true it flies to you, my dear old Galway Bay.
- My chosen bride is by my side, her brown hair silver-grey,
- Her daughter Rose as like her grows as April dawn to day.
- Our only boy, his mother's joy, his father's pride and stay;
- With gifts like these I'd live at ease, were I near Galway Bay.
- Oh, grey and bleak, by shore and creek, the rugged rocks abound,
- But sweet and green the grass between, as grows on Irish ground,
- So friendship fond, all wealth beyond, and love that lives alway,
- Bless each poor home beside your foam, my dear old Galway Bay.
- A prouder man I'd walk the land in health and peace of mind,
- If I might toil and strive and moil, nor cast one thought behind,
- But what would be the world to me, its wealth and rich array,
- If memory I lost of thee, my own dear Galway Bay.
- Had I youth's blood and hopeful mood and heart of fire once more,
- For all the gold the world might hold I'd never quit your shore,
- I'd live content whate'er God sent with neighbours old and gray,
- And lay my bones, 'neath churchyard stones, beside you, Galway Bay.
- The blessing of a poor old man be with you night and day,
- The blessing of a lonely man whose heart will soon be clay;
- 'Tis all the Heaven I'll ask of God upon my dying day,
- My soul to soar for evermore above you, Galway Bay.
Lyrics to the Colahan song
O it may be some day I'll go back to Ireland If it's only at the closing of my day, For to see again the moon rise over Claddagh And to watch the sun go down on Galway Bay.
For to hear again the ripple of the trout stream The women in the meadow making hay Or to sit beside a turf fire in the cabin And watch the barefoot gossoons at their play
O the winds that blow across the sea from Ireland Are perfumed by the heather as they blow And the women in the uplands diggin' praties Speak a language that the strangers do not know.
Yet the strangers came and tried to teach us their ways And they blamed us too for bein' what we are But they might as well go try and catch a moonbeam Or to light a penny candle from a star.
And if there's going to be a life hereafter And somehow I feel sure there's going to be I will ask my God to let me make my heaven In that dear land across the Irish sea.