Pete St John

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Pete St John
Born31 January 1932
Dublin, Ireland
Died12 March 2022

Peter Mooney (31 January 1932 – 12 March 2022), known professionally as Pete St John, was an Irish folk singer-songwriter. Born in Dublin, Ireland,[1] he was best known for composing "The Fields of Athenry".[2][3]

Life and career[edit]

St John was born in Inchicore, Dublin in 1932.[4] Educated at Synge Street CBS and trained as an electrician, he emigrated to Canada before returning to Ireland in the 1970s.[5]

He wrote "The Fields of Athenry" in 1979, and it has been recorded by several artists, charting in the Irish Singles Chart on a number of occasions.[6] A recording by Paddy Reilly, which was released in 1982, remained in the Irish charts for 72 weeks.[7]

St John also composed a number of other modern ballads, such as "The Rare Ould Times" and "The Ferryman", which have been recorded by several artists, including The Dubliners, James Last, Paddy Reilly, and Mary Black.[8][9] A version of "The Rare Ould Times", as sung by Danny Doyle, spent 11 weeks in the Irish Singles Chart, reaching No. 1 in 1978.[10] St John's songs, including "The Rare Ould Times" and "The Ferryman", sometimes express regret for the loss of old certainties (for example the loss of Nelson's Pillar and the Metropole Ballroom, two symbols of old Dublin, as progress makes a "city of my town").[11][12]

St John won several awards, including the Irish Music Rights Organisation "Irish Songwriter of the Year".[1][8] He died in Dublin on 12 March 2022, at the age of 90.[8][13] After his funeral Paddy Reilly and Glen Hansard performed 'Fields of Athenry' at Beaumont House in Dublin as a tribute.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Songwriter Pete St John Honoured". Irish Music Rights Organisation. 22 December 2009. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Pete St John: Fields of Athenry songwriter dies aged 90". BBC News. 13 March 2022. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
  3. ^ Monaghan, Gabrielle (1 May 2011). "Fame & fortune: Pete St John". The Times. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  4. ^ Creedon, Seán (December 2020). "Pete St. John – The Man Who Wrote The Fields Of Athenry".
  5. ^ "'Fields of Athenry' composer Pete St John dies aged 90". Irish Times. 13 March 2022. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
  6. ^ "Irish Charts - Search - Fields of Athenry". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  7. ^ "Facts and Figures — Longest in the Charts". The Irish Charts. Irish Recorded Music Association. Archived from the original on 27 December 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  8. ^ a b c Crowley, Sinéad (12 March 2022). "Fields of Athenry songwriter Pete St John dies aged 90".
  9. ^ "Works". Pete St John Official Site. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Singles Charts – Placement Search – Rare Ould Times". Irish Music Rights Organisation. Archived from the original on 11 January 2018. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  11. ^ Murray, Cormac (4 April 2015). "Urban Re-wiring – Dublin's Silicon Docks". Architecture Ireland (Journal). Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland. Archived from the original on 11 January 2018.
  12. ^ "The Ferryman – lament for passing of Dublin tradition". Irish Music Daily. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
  13. ^ "Pete St John, songwriter who was loved in Ireland for Fields of Athenry and Dublin in the Rare Auld Times – obituary". The Telegraph. 15 March 2022.
  14. ^ Paddy Reilly and Glen Hansard, Fields Of Athenry, video on YouTube, 4 April 2022

External links[edit]