Trad. Arr: Paddy Moloney
Vocal: Sinéad O'Connor

Oh, Father dear, I oft times heard you talk of Erin's Isle,
Her lofty scene, her valleys green, her mountains rude and wild
They say it is a pretty place where in a prince might dwell,
Oh why did you abandon it, the reason to me tell?

Oh son, I loved my native land with energy and pride
'Til a blight came over on my crops, my sheep and cattle died,
The rent and taxes were so high, I could not them redeem,
And that's the cruel reason why I left old Skibbereen.

Oh, It's well I do remember that bleak December day,
The landlord and the sheriff came to drive us all away
They set my roof on fire with their demon yellow spleen
And that's another reason why I left old Skibbereen.

Your mother too, God rest her soul, fell on the snowy ground,
She fainted in her anguish seeing the desolation round.
She never rose but passed away from life to mortal dream,
She found a quiet grave, my boy, in dear old Skibbereen.

And you were only two years old and feeble was your frame,
I could not leave you with your friends, you bore your father's name,
I wrapped you in my cóta mór in the dead of night unseen
I heaved a sigh and said goodbye to dear old Skibbereen.

A Soldier's Return

Brian Warfield

I went away to fight a war that small nations might be free.
Got a soldier's gun and uniform to fight the enemy.
I was trained to shoot my fellow man before he got to me,
And I danced with death in the mud and wept,
And prayed my home to see.

So come over to me darling girl, come here me Molly dear.
You are as welcome as the flowers in May, you're welcome here to me.
No more I'll fire the musket shot or hear the cannon roar,
I've done my time, now you'll be mine,
I'm yours forever more.

While in the trenches there I thought who starts these bloody wars,
And thought of these great Irishmen who died on these strange shores.
Then a bomb did burst, to the air it thrust some shrapnel, fire, and blood.
I escaped it then, shot back at them, and lay back in the mud.


While I was off in foreign lands, fighting other peoples' wars,
Some gallant men were fighting here to free their native shores.
You shot our leaders of '16, saw our city sacked and burned.
Then you sent us in the Black and Tans to greet our home return.


I don't need your hero's welcome.
I don't want your bugle call.
No brass band, no pipes and drums, no medal, badge, or star.
Just give me what you promised me when first I went to war,
That's freedom for old Ireland and I'll go to fight no more.

The Band Played "Waltzing Matilda"

Lyrics by Eric Bogle
"Waltzing Matilda" by Cowan & Patterson

When I was a young man, I carried my pack.
And I lived the free life of a rover,
From the Murray's green basin,
To the dusty outback,
I waltzed my Matilda all over.
Then in nineteen fifteen, my country said son
It's time to stop rambling,
There's work to be done.
So they gave me a tin hat,
And they gave me a gun,
And they sent me away to the war.

And the band played "Waltzing Matilda",
As we sailed away from the Quay,
And amidst all the cheers,
Flag waving and tears,
We sailed off for Gallipoli.

When I remember that terrible day,
When our blood stained the sand and the water,
And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay,
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.
Johnny Turk he was ready,
Oh, he primed himself well.
He rained on us bullets,
And he showered us with shells.
And in five minutes flat we were all blown to hell,
Nearly blew us right back to Australia.

And the band played "Waltzing Matilda",
As we stopped to bury our slain.
And we buried ours,
And the Turks buried theirs,
And it started all over again.

Those who were living just tried to survive,
In that mad world of blood, death and fire,
And for seven long weeks,
I kept myself alive,
While around us the corpses piled higher.
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head,
And when I awoke in my hospital bed,
And saw what it had done,
Christ! I wished I was dead!
I never knew there were worse things than dying.

And no more I'll go Waltzing Matilda,
All around the green bush far and near,
For to hump tent and pegs,
A man needs both legs,
No more Waltzing Matilda for me.

So they collected the wounded, the crippled, the maimed,
And they shipped us back home to Australia.
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane,
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla.
And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay,
I looked at the place where me legs used to be,
And thanked Christ there was no one there waiting for me,
To grieve and to mourn and to pity.

And the band played "Waltzing Matilda",
As they carried us down the gangway.
But nobody cheered,
They just stood and stared,
And turned all their faces away.

And now every April,
I sit on my porch,
And I watch the parades pass before me.
I see my old comrades,
How proudly they march.
Renewing their dreams of past glories,
I see the old men, all tired stiff and sore,
The weary old heroes of a forgotten war,
And the young people ask,
What are they marching for?
And I ask myself that same question.

And the band still plays "Waltzing Matilda",
And the old men still answer the call,
But year after year,
Their numbers grow fewer,
Someday no one will march there at all.

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
Who'll come a'waltzing Matilda with me?
And their ghosts may be heard,
As you pass by that billabong,
Who'll come a'waltzing Matilda with me?

No Man's Land/Willie McBride

Eric Bogle

Well how do you do Private Willie McBride?
Do you mind if I sit here by your graveside?
And sit for awhile 'neath the warm summer sun,
I've been walking all day and I'm near to done.
I can see by your gravestone you were only nineteen,
When you joined the great fallen of Nineteen Sixteen,
Well I hope you died well, I hope you died clean,
Or young Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the pipe lowly?
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play "The Last Post" in chorus?
Did the pipes play "The Flowers of the Forest"?

Did you leave e'er a wife, or a sweetheart behind,
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined?
Or did you die barren, in Nineteen Sixteen,
In that faithful heart are you forever nineteen?
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Enclosed forever behind the glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn, tattered and stained,
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame?


Well the sun it now shines on the green fields of France,
There's a warm Summer's breeze makes the red poppies dance.
And see how the sun shines from under the clouds,
There's no gas, no barbed wire, there's no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard it's still no man's land,
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand,
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man,
To a whole generation that was butchered and damned.


Ah, young Willie McBride, I can't help wonder why
Do those that lie here know why they did die?
And did they believe, when they answered the call,
Did they really believe that this war would end all?
But the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the pain,
The killing, the dying, were all done in vain,
For young Willie McBride it's all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.

Created by | Updated September 2017