Mountains of Mourne, The - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

The lyrics to The Mountains of Mourne were written in the nineteenth century by Percy French; the tune is a traditional Irish folk tune called Carringdonn. Like his near-contemporary, the poet W.B. Yeats, Percy French was an Irish protestant. Like James Joyce, another fairly close-contemporary, he attended Trinity College in Dublin, where he wrote his first well-known song. French became famous for writing funny, satirical, insightful songs, and The Mountains of Mourne, with its Irish narrator commenting on life in England in a letter home, certainly fits that mould. But it also has a good deal of pathos and longing for home. Perhaps it's this mixture of attributes that has made it so well-liked. A lovely song.

You can find out about the Mourne mountains themselves here.

The lovely You Tube version is by Don McLean.

Chords

       G                G7               C                   Am
Oh, Mary, this London's a wonderful sight

         D                   D7                G             C  G
With people here working by day and by night

                                 G7              C                 Am
They don't sow potatoes, nor barley nor wheat


                     D7                                        G           C     G

But there's gangs of them digging for gold in the street


     D7                                                  G                 Em

At least when I asked them that's what I was told


         G                 Em                A7              D

So I just took a hand at this diggin' for gold


             G              G7                   C                      Am

But for all that I found there I might as well be


                   D                      D7                     G             C    G

Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.


Lyrics

Oh, Mary, this London's a wonderful sight
With people here working by day and by night
They don't sow potatoes, nor barley nor wheat
But there' gangs of them digging for gold in the streets
At least when I asked them that's what I was told
So I just took a hand at this diggin' for gold
But for all that I found there I might as well be
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

I believe that when writin' a wish you expressed
As to how the fine ladies in London were dressed
Well, if you believe me, when asked to a ball
Faith, they don't wear no top to their dresses at all.
Oh, I've seen them myself and you could not in trath
Say if they were bound for a ball or a bath
Don't be startin' them fashions now, Mary Macree,
Where the mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

I've seen England's king from the top of a bus
And I've never known him, but he means to know us.
And tho' by the Saxon we once were oppressed,
Still I cheered, God forgive me, I cheered with the rest.
And now that he's visited Erin's green shore
We'll be much better friends than we've been heretofore
When we've got all we want, we're as quiet as can be
Where the mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

You remember young Peter O'Loughlin, of course
Well, now he is here at the head of the force
I met him today, I was crossing the Strand
And he stopped the whole street with a wave of his hand
And there we stood talkin' of days that are gone
While the whole population of London looked on
But for all these great powers he's wishful like me
To be back where the dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea.

There's beautiful girls here, oh, never you mind
With beautiful shapes nature never designed
And lovely complexions all roses and cream
But O'Loughlin remarked with regard to the same
That if at those roses you venture to sip
The colours might all come away on your lip
So I'll wait for the wild rose that's waitin' for me
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.                                      

Other Irish Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs