"The Galtee Mountain Boy" was originally written by a man named Patsy Halloran; Christy Moore later added a fourth verse. The song portrays real events, people, and situations from the Irish War for Independence, in the late 19-teens, and the subsequent Irish Civil War, in the early 1920s.

I think I love most the matter-of-fact way the story is told, even as the soldier mentions his death sentence in the first verse. There is melancholy in his farewell to Tipperary, but he regrets nothing. Further, he never boasts, and hopes for nothing but the memory of his cause.

As it turned out, history was on the side of his opponents, the Free-Staters, but it seems to me that the best history includes more than just the winners' side of the story-- and so, politics aside, "The Galtee Mountain Boy" remains a story worth preserving.

There has been some discussion, if not controversy, over the lyrics. They include possible anachronisms, geographical ambiguity, and redundancy. Christy Moore's fourth verse has been derided as contributing nothing but politics; some even suggest that it was added only to lengthen his recording.

Download NowNot surprisingly, then, there are variations in the lyrics, even more than usual for a folk song. Here is the version that I've chosen to record:

I joined the flying column in 1916
In Cork with Sean Moylan; Tipperary with Dan Breen
Arrested by Free-Staters and sentenced for to die,
Farewell to Tipperary, said the Galtee Mountain Boy

We crossed through pleasant valleys and over hilltops green
Where we met with Dinny Lacey, Sean Hogan, and Dan Breen,
Sean Moylan and his gallant men, who kept the flag flying high
Farewell to Tipperary, said the Galtee Mountain Boy

We trekked the Wicklow mountains, rebels on the run
Hunted night and morning, we were outlaws but free men
We crossed the Dublin mountains; the sun was shining high
Farewell to Tipperary, said the Galtee Mountain Boy

So I'll bid farewell:
To old Clonmel, that I never more will see,
And to the Galtee Mountains that ofttimes sheltered me,
And to the men who fought for liberty and died without a sigh.
May their cause be ne'er forgotten, said the Galtee Mountain Boy.

Assisting me on this recording, the second release from Chance of a Start, an album I'm planning to have out this summer:

  • Randy Decker: percussion and vocals
  • Wolf Hul: fiddle
  • Martin Kelleher: vocals
  • David Yeates: vocals

"The Galtee Mountain Boy" is available for a limited time, as a free download. PS: While the suggested price is $0, financial support is always welcome.

There's also a video, if you prefer:  PatrickClifford.com/clifford/video/index.asp?id=002

Download Now

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