FWT Homepage Translator

Sunday, February 21, 2010


By: Peter Jones

Kilkelly, Ireland,
Eighteen and Sixty,
My dear and loving son, John,
Your good friend, the schoolmaster,
Pat McNamara's so good
As to write these words down.
Your brothers have all gone
To find work in England.
The house is so empty and sad.
The crop of potatoes is sorely infected,
A third to a half of them bad.
And your sister, Brigid, and Patrick O'Donnell
Are going to be married in June.
Your mother says not
To work on the railroad
And be sure to come on home soon.

Kilkelly, Ireland,
Eighteen and Seventy,
Dear and loving son, John,
Hello to your Missus
And to your four children,
May they grow healthy and strong.
Michael has got in a wee bit of trouble,
I guess that he never will learn.
Because of the dampness,
There's no turf to speak of
And now we have nothing to burn.
And Brigid is happy
You named a child for her,
And now she's got six of her own.
You say you found work,
But you don't say what kind
Or when you'll be coming home.

Kilkelly, Ireland,
Eighteen and Eighty,
Michael and John, my sons,
I'm sorry to give you the very sad news
That your dear old mother has gone.
We buried her down
At the church in Kilkelly.
Your brothers and Brigid were there.
You don't have to worry,
She died very quickly.
Remember her in your prayers.
And it's so good to hear
That Michael's returning
With money, he's sure to buy land,
For the crops have been poor,
And the people are selling
At any price that they can.

Kilkelly, Ireland,
Eighteen and Ninety,
My dear and loving son, John,
I guess that I must be
Close on to eighty.
It's thirty years since you're gone.
Because of all of
The money you send me,
I'm still living out on my own.
Michael has built
Himself a fine house,
And Brigid's daughters have grown.
Thank you for sending
Your family picture.
They're lovely young women and men.
You say that you might
Even come for a visit.
What joy to see you again!

Kilkelly, Ireland,
Eighteen and Ninety-Two,
My dear brother, John,
I'm sorry that I
Didn't write sooner
To tell you that
Father passed on.
He was living with Brigid.
She says he was cheerful
And healthy right down to the end.
Ah, you should have seen him
Play with the grandchildren
Of Pat McNamara, your friend.
And we buried him
Alongside of Mother,
Down at the Kilkelly churchyard.
He was a strong and a feisty old man,
Considering his life was so hard.
And it's funny the way
He kept talking about you,
He called for you in the end.
Oh, why don't you think
About coming to visit?
We'd all love to see you again.


One hundred and thirty years after his great grandfather left the small village of Kilkelly in County Mayo, Peter Jones found a bundle of letters sent to his great grandfather by his father in Ireland.

The letters tell of family news, births, deaths, sales of land, and bad harvests.

They remind the son that he is loved, missed, and remembered by his family in Ireland.

The final letter informs him that his father, whom he has not seen for thirty years, has died, and the last link with home is broken.

Peter Jones used these letters to make this song.

The "trouble" mentioned in the second verse is probably the Finian uprising of 1867.

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