The Rare Ould Times

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"The Rare Ould Times" is a song composed by Pete St. John in the 1970s for the Dublin City Ramblers. It is sometimes called "Dublin in the Rare Ould Times", "The Rare Old Times", or "The Rare Auld Times".


In the song, the narrator, Sean Dempsey, who comes from Pimlico, a working-class neighbourhood in the Dublin Liberties, recalls his upbringing. He laments the changes that have occurred in the city since his youth, mentioning the loss of Nelson's Pillar, the Metropole ballroom, the "Royal" (Theatre Royal). He dislikes the "new glass cages", the modern office blocks and flats being erected along the quays, and says farewell to Anna Liffey (the River Liffey).

Recording history[edit]

The song was first recorded by the Dublin City Ramblers,[1] who released it as a single in 1977. It has since been recorded by dozens of artists such as The Dubliners, the Irish Tenors, Paddy Reilly, The High Kings, Flogging Molly, Nathan Carter, Damien Dempsey and Kodaline. It was a number 1 hit in the Irish charts for Danny Doyle in January 1978.[2]

The song remains popular in Ireland, particularly in Dublin.[3][4] It is sung as a sporting anthem by fans of Dublin GAA teams.

Irish businessman Bill Cullen used the first two stanzas of the song as the epigraph for his 2004 memoir of growing up in inner-city Dublin, It's a Long Way from Penny Apples.[5]


  1. ^ "Our Story - The Dublin City Ramblers". Retrieved 21 March 2022. "Dublin In The Rare Auld Times" [..was..] written especially for them all those years ago, by the late Pete St. John
  2. ^ "Irish Charts - Search - Title Placement - Rare Ould Times". IRMA. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
  3. ^ "The Very Best Of Patsy Watchorn". Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  4. ^ Connolly, Mark (2003). The Rough Guide to Ireland. Rough Guides. p. 61. ISBN 9781843530596.
  5. ^ Cullen, Bill (2004). It's a Long Way from Penny Apples. Macmillan. p. 8. ISBN 1466820918.