The Rare Ould Times lyrics

Jim McCann

Raised on songs and stories
Heroes of renown
The passing tales and glories
That once was Dublin town

The hallowed halls and houses
The haunting children’s rhymes
That once was Dublin city
In the rare ould times

Ring a ring o' rosie
As the light de-clines
I remember Dublin city
In the rare ould times

Me name it is Sean Dempsey
As Dublin as could be
Born hard and late in Pimlico,
In a house that ceased to be

By trade I was a cooper
Lost out to redundancy
Like my house that fell to progress
My trade's a memory

I courted Peggy Dignan
As pretty as you please
A rogue and a child of Mary
From the rebel Liberties

I lost her to a student chap
With skin as black as coal
When he took her off to Birmingham
She took away my soul

Ring a ring o' rosie
As the light declines
I remember Dublin city
In the rare ould times

The years have made me bitter
The gargle's dimmed me brain
'Cause Dublin keeps on changing
And nothing seems the same

The Pillar and the Met have gone
The Royal long since pulled down
As the grey unyielding concrete makes
A city of my town

Fare thee well sweet Anna Liffey
I can no lon-ger stay
And watch the new glass cages
Spring up along the Quay

My mind's too full of memories
Too old to hear new chimes
I'm a part of what was Dublin
In the rare ould times

Ring a ring o' rosie
As the light de-clines
I remember Dublin city
In the rare ould times

Ring a ring o' rosie
As the light de-clines
I remember Dublin city
In the rare ould times

Song Details

Jim McCann
Jim McCann

Writer: The Rare Ould Times was composed in the 70's by Pete St. John - Irish folk singer and songwriter, best known for his composition, The Fields Of Athenry.

The song is also referred to as, "Dublin in the Rare Ould Times", "The Rare Auld Times", and "The Rare Old Times".

Brief: Sean Dempsey, a man from Pimlico, a working-class area of Dublin, reminisces about his childhood. He's sad about how much Dublin has changed since he was young. Buildings he remembers fondly, like Nelson's Pillar, the Metropole ballroom, and the Theatre Royal, are all gone. He disapproves of the modern, high-rise buildings replacing them along the riverbanks, calling them "new glass cages." The passage ends with him saying goodbye to the River Liffey, personified as "Anna Liffey."

Pimlico an inner city area of Dublin, Ireland on the southside in Dublin 8.
cooper - A person who makes or repairs wooden barrels and tubs.
Liberties - The Liberties is a historical district in Dublin, Ireland, known for its working-class character and history of rebellion against British rule. Throughout history, the Liberties' residents actively participated in rebellions and protests against British authority. Notable examples include the 1798 rebellion and various labor strikes.
Birmingham - a city and metropolitan borough in the metropolitan county of West Midlands in England.
ring a ring o' rosie - a nursery rhyme, folk song and playground singing game.
gargle's - alcoholic drinks, especially cheap or strong ones.
The Pillar - Nelson's Pillar - a large granite column capped by a statue of Horatio Nelson, built in the centre of what was then Sackville Street (later renamed O'Connell Street) in Dublin, Ireland.
The Met - The Metropole Cinema including a ballroom, as well as a couple of bars and a restaurant, the Georgian Room. It was built from the ruins of the Metropole Hotel which was badly damaged during the Easter Rising and the remains were ultimately demolished. The Met closed on 11 March 1972 and the building was sold to British Home Stores who demolished it.
The Royal - Theatre Royal. There have been five 'Theatre Royals' built in Dublin since 1662, with the fifth 'Theatre Royal' closing its doors on 30 June 1962.
Anna Liffey - personification of the River Liffey: a river in eastern Ireland that flows through the centre of Dublin to its mouth within Dublin Bay.

Category: Irish Folk

Album: Jim McCann (1980).

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