The Curragh of Kildare
Is there any other song more synonymous with the Lilywhite county than ‘The Curragh of Kildare’?
Listening to a recent radio discussion about what songs should represent each county, it struck me that other than the aforementioned ballad, no other worthy candidates came to mind. Other counties have ample quality tunes to choose from.
Unfortunately the D’Unbelievable’s favourites ‘The Stoat That Ate Me Sandals’, ‘The Hoor in the Nettles’ and ‘The Pecker Dunne’s Myxomatosis Rabbit’ have no mention of Naas, Newbridge or Kildare town.
All joking aside, there is nothing like the strains of ‘The Curragh of Kildare’ when it is sung with gusto.
If you haven’t heard Mary O’Loughlin belt it out in the hollows of Killinthomas Woods at Bluebells and Buskers every year, it’s worth a trip.
Wondering about the list of Kildare appropriate songs, my colleague informed me of another song — ‘Rosie and the Roads of Kildare’ which he first heard sung off the back of a trailer in Robertstown. Curiosity hit. Google performed its duty and up popped the song. In fact it’s called ‘The Roads of Kildare’.
Apparently, Daniel O’Donnell even performed it at one stage.
The song details how Johnny fell in love with a gypsy, Rosie, who was reared on the roads of Kildare, and how he turned his back on his family to be with her.
Further googling revealed another contender — ‘A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day’.
It starts with the verse — “I’ve a neat little cabin that’s built out of mud, Not far from the town of Kildare, I’ve an acre or two where I grow my ow spuds, I’ve enough and a little to spare.”
Not sure that would rouse the Kildare team on to All Ireland victory, which has been as scarce as an healthy potato in the famine.
'The man’ might want to consider growing something more than spuds.
On to the next contender — ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye’.
This rousing song wouldn’t be out of place in a good session, with ample mention of Athy in the opening lines.
“While goin’ the road to sweet Athy, har-oo, har-oo; While goin’ the road to sweet Athy, har-oo, har-oo; While goin’ the road to sweet Athy; A stick in me hand and a tear in me eye; A doleful damsel I heard cry; Johnny I hardly knew ye”.
While the upbeat tone could be replicated to a sporting war cry rally, it would definitely fall short of the impact of the Icelandic clap chant used by its soccer supporters.
Next up, ‘Lanigan’s Ball’. Apparently Jeremy Lannigan was from Athy and he “battered away ‘till he hadn’t a pound.’
Again, a good beat gives the song a good rhythm but it definitely falls well short of a county anthem.
’Nora, The Pride of Kildare’ was a disappointment, and a song about a fair maid who stole her suitor’s heart on ‘The shady road to Clane’ didn’t quite make the grade.
Having had a trawl through the possible replacements for ‘The Curragh of Kildare’ it’s safe to say I’m not enthused with my findings. It may be a bit nostalgic, but that’s what an anthem is supposed to be — hands swaying in the air from side to side, singing full throttle in unison.
The Scots claim the song comes from a poem by Robbie Burns, telling the story of a young Scottish woman whose lover is away soldiering in the Curragh.
Whatever the origin, it will long be sung on our grassy plains.