The Rocks of Bawn lyrics

Paddy Boyle

Come all you loyal heroes and listen on to me
Don’t hire with any master till you know what your work will be
They'll rise you in the morning from the first clear light of the dawn
And you never will be able for to plough the Rocks of Bawn

My shoes they are well worn, my stockings they are thin,
My heart is always trembling for fear they might give in,
My heart is always trembling from the first clear light of the dawn,
I'm afraid I won't be able for to plough the rocks of Bawn.

Rise up you gallant Sweeney and give your horse some hay
And give him a good feed of oats before you start the day
Don’t give him them old turnips that, you grew on your old lawn
Or you never will be able for to plough the Rocks of Bawn

I curse upon you Sweeney, you have me nearly robbed
You’re sitting at the fire side with your dúidín in your gob
You sittin' at the fire side from the first clear light of the dawn
And you never will be able for to plough the Rocks of Bawn

I hope the sargeant major will send for me in time
And put me in his regiment while I'm in me youth and prime
I’d fight for Ireland’s glory from the first clear light of the dawn
And I never will return, for to plough the Rocks Of Bawn

Song Details

Ploughing The Land
The Rocks Of Bawn

Author: Martin Swiney - attribution by Dominic Behan according to Irish traditional singer, Tom Lenihan which included this song along with other songs from his repertoire on the album - The Mount Callan Garland. The songs were collected and edited by Tom Munnelly with music transcriptions by Marian Deasy.

Same Tune as: Lovely Jane from Enniskea

Brief: The singer tells of the hardship and hopelessness of trying to farm on poor land. He warns fellow labourers not to accept a job with any master without first knowing what the work will be. He describes the derelict conditions and says that even joining the British army would offer him a better life.

Where is Bawn? There seems to be some controversy surrounding the whereabouts of The Rocks Of Bawn. It has generally been claimed by Cavan which has two places called Bawn, but apparently there are several other places in Ireland with the name 'Bawn', some of which are unploughable!

There is an interesting article surrounding this dilemma which makes for some interesting reading. It was written by Frank McNally from the Irish Times titled: Classic Rock – Frank McNally on tracing the origins of a famous Irish ballad - An Irishman’s Diary on the Rocks of Bawn.

Sweeney: master
dúidín: short stemmed clay pipe
gob: mouth
Bawn: a meadow
Bawn: a fortified enclosure, either for defensive purposes or for keeping cattle

Category: Irish Folk Song

Covers: Paddy Boyle (featured), Noel Cassidy, Joe Heaney, Eamonn Macdonncha, Clancy Brothers, Kilfenora Ceili Band, Amon Folan, The Holohan Sisters.

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