Mary from Dungloe (song)
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"Mary from Dungloe" is an Irish song originally penned by a Donegal stonemason Pádraig Mac Cumhaill in 1936, telling a tragic story of love and heartbreak. A modified version of the song was re-released by The Emmet Spiceland Ballad Group and reached number 1 in the Irish singles music chart on February 24, 1968. This success prompted the creation of the Mary From Dungloe International Festival, an Irish music festival held in Dungloe, in northwest Ireland. There exists two versions of the song, the original long version by Pádraig MacCumhaill and a shorter version by Colm O'Laughlin, the latter version is the most popular today.
Story of the song
The original 'Mary' in question is said to be a Mary Gallagher, a native of Dungloe, she was courted by a man (from the Gweedore area) who had just returned from the United States but her parents refused to let them marry and he left to return to the US on October 6, 1861. On December 5, 1861 she emigrated to New Zealand to join her relatives there. On the boat she met and married Dónal Egan. She gave birth to a baby but died within four months while her son only survived a few more months.
Original Pádraig MacCumhaill Lyrics
Oh, then fare ye well, sweet Donegal, the Rosses and Gweedore. I'm crossing the main ocean, where the foaming billows roar, it breaks my heart from you to part, where I spent many happy days. Farewell to kind relations for I'm bound for Amerikay.
Ah, then Mary, you're my hearts delight, my pride and only care, it was your cruel father would not let me stay there. But absence makes the heart grow fond and when I'm o'er the main, may the Lord protect my darling girl till I return again.
And I wished I was in sweet Dungloe and seated on the grass. And by my side a bottle of wine and on my knee a lass. I'd call for liquor of the best and I'd pay before I go and I'd roll my Mary in my arms in the town of sweet Dungloe.
O me maid is tall and beautiful and her age is scarce eighteen She far exceeds all other fair maid as she trips o'er the green Her lovely neck and shoulders are fairer than the snow Til the day I die, I'll ne'r deny O me Mary from Dungloe.
Colm Ó Lochlainn Lyrics
Oh then fare thee well sweet Donegal, the Rosses and Gweedore, I'm crossing the main ocean where the foaming billows roar, It breaks my heart from you to part where I spent many happy days. Farewell to kind relations, I am bound for Amerikay.
Oh then Mary you're my heart's delight, my pride and only care, It was your cruel father would not let me to stay here, But absence makes the heart grow fond, and when I am over the main, May the Lord protect my darling girl, 'till I return again.
And I wish I was in sweet Dungloe and seated on the grass, And by my side a bottle of wine, and on my knee a lass, I'd call for liquour of the best, and I'd pay before I'd go, And I'd roll my Mary in my arms, in the town of sweet Dungloe.
The song has become a traditional Irish staple and it has been covered by an array of artists, most notably by Emmet Spiceland, Daniel O'Donnell, Show of Hands, The Irish Tenors, Phil Coulter, Paddy Reilly, Christy Moore, Tommy Fleming, Foster & Allen, The Johnstons, and Patrick Clifford.