Entertainment Music Dear Old Skibbereen Lyrics and History Share PINTEREST Email Print Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images Music World Music Genres & Styles Top Picks Top Artists Rock Music Pop Music Alternative Music Classical Music Country Music Folk Music Rap & Hip Hop Rhythm & Blues Punk Music Heavy Metal Jazz Latin Music Oldies Learn More By Megan Romer Updated February 24, 2019 "Dear Old Skibbereen" is a traditional Irish folk song written sometime after the potato blight and Great Irish Famine of the 1840s and the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848. The story is told as a conversation between father and son, with the father explaining why he left his beautiful home in Skibbereen, a village in County Cork. The song has been collected by folklorists both in Ireland and in Irish communities in the United States, and has been recorded by many popular Irish artists. It also featured in the film Michael Collins, where it was sung by the title character, played by Liam Neeson. Vocabulary note: a cothamore is a large overcoat, from the Irish cota more, "big coat." Lyrics O Father dear, I often hear you speak of Erin's IsleHer lofty scenes, her valleys green, her mountains rude and wildThey say it is a lovely land wherein a prince might dwellOh why did you abandon it? The reason, to me tell. O son, I loved my native land with energy and pride'Til a blight came o'er my crops, my sheep and cattle diedMy rent and taxes were too high, I could not them redeemAnd that's the cruel reason that I left old Skibbereen. O well do I remember the bleak December dayThe landlord and the sheriff came to drive us all awayThey set my roof on fire with cursed English spleenAnd that's another reason that I left old Skibbereen. Your mother too, God rest her soul, fell on the snowy groundShe fainted in her anguish, seeing the desolation roundShe never rose, but passed away from life to mortal dreamAnd found a quiet grave, my boy, in dear old Skibbereen. And you were only two years old and feeble was your frameI could not leave you with my friends, you bore your father's nameI wrapped you in my cothamore at the dead of night unseenI heaved a sigh and bade good-bye to dear old Skibbereen. O Father dear, the day may come when in answer to the callEach Irishman, with feeling stern, will rally one and allI'll be the man to lead the van beneath the flag of greenWhen loud and high, we'll raise the cry: "Remember Skibbereen!" Notable Versions The Dubliners - "Skibbereen" The Merry Ploughboys - "Old Skibbereen" Mary Behan Miller - "Skibbereen"