Mother Machree (song)

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"Mother Machree" is a 1910 American-Irish song with lyrics by Rida Johnson Young and singer Chauncey Olcott, and music by Ernest Ball. It was originally written for the show Barry of Ballymoore.[1] It was first released by Chauncey Olcott, then by Will Oakland in 1910. The song was later kept popular by John McCormack and others.[2][3] It was used in films including Mother Machree (1928) and Rose of Washington Square (1939).[4]

The song lyrics begin "I kiss the dear fingers so toil worn for me. Oh God bless you and keep you Mother Machree".[5] "Machree" is an Anglicization of the Irish "mo chroí", an exclamation meaning "my heart."[6]

The song made an appearance in the Coen Brothers' film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs when Tom Waits playing the Prospector in the segment "All Gold Canyon" sings as he appears from the thick woods leading his mule into the Gold Canyon.


  1. ^ A Century of American Popular Music - Page 137 1135352712 David A. Jasen - 2013 MOTHER MACHREE Chauncey Olcott and Ernest R. Ball (w: Rida Johnson Young) M. Witmark and Sons — New York 1910 Show: Barry of Ballymore Chauncey Olcott sang it in the show and also had a hit recording (Columbia A- 13 37).
  2. ^ The American Magazine - Volume 90 - Page 34; 1920 "SEEMS incredible, but it is probably a fact, that more than half the people — and there are millions of them—who know and love the song, “ Mother Machree,” have no idea as to who wrote it. It is no exaggeration to say that “Mother Machree" has become the most sensational song success of this generation. Other songs have had an enormous popularity .... “In this case, I was working on a play called Barry of Ballymore, and I needed a song for Chauncey Olcott to sing."
  3. ^ W. H. A. Williams The Image of Ireland and the Irish in American Popular Song Lyrics, 1800-1920 1996 0252065514 MOTHERS MACHREE The vogue of Irish mother songs in American popular culture owes much to "Mother Machree," written for Barry from Ballymore"
  4. ^ "Mother Machree" (audio recording only) from film Rose of Washington Square (1939) on YouTube
  5. ^ Philip Furia, Michael Lasser America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway 2006. 1135471924 “Mother Machree” was a combination Irish song, mother song, and sentimental ballad. It was a classic tearjerker. In a song of praise to an aging mother, a son kisses “the dear fingers so toil-worn for me” ..."
  6. ^ Sean Williams, Focus: Irish Traditional Music (NY: Routledge, 2010)