Skibbereen (song)

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Skibbereen, also known as Dear Old Skibbereen, 'Farewell to Skibbereen', or 'Revenge For Skibbereen', is an Irish folk song, in the form of a dialogue wherein a father tells his son about the Irish famine, being evicted from their home, and the need to flee as a result of the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848.[1]


Skibbereen 1847 by Cork artist James Mahony (1810–1879), commissioned by Illustrated London News 1847.

The first known publication of the song was in a 19th-century publication, The Irish Singer's Own Book (Noonan, Boston, 1880), where the song was attributed to Patrick Carpenter, a poet and native of Skibbereen.[2] It was published in 1915 by Herbert Hughes who wrote that it had been collected in County Tyrone, and that it was a traditional song.[3] It was recorded by John Avery Lomax from Irish immigrants in Michigan in the 1930s.

The son in the song asks his father why he left the village of Skibbereen, in County Cork, Ireland, to live in another country, to which the father tells him of the hardship he faced in his homeland. It ends on a vengeful note expressed by the son.


The song has been performed live and recorded by The Dubliners, Wolfe Tones and Sinéad O'Connor, as well as by many other contemporary Irish artists. In the film Michael Collins the Collins character, played by Liam Neeson, sings the song. It makes an appearance in the Victoria tv series.

Name band Name album Year of release
Wolfe Tones Rifles of the I.R.A. 1969
The Dubliners Plain and Simple 1973
Four to the Bar Another Son 1995
Irish Stew of Sindidun So Many Words... 2005


  1. ^ Skibbereen. URL accessed 13 January 2007.
  2. ^ The Poets of Ireland, ed. D.J. O'Donoghue. Dublin: Hodges, Figgis & Co., 1912
  3. ^ Herbert Hughes, Irish Country Songs, 1915