Fields of Athenry Lyrics:
Sing Along to a Classic Irish Love Song

Fields of Athenry lyrics are a folk ballad dealing with a sad part of Irish history. The song is set in the Great Irish Famine of the 19th century.  It details the story of Michael, a man who is caught stealing food for his family and being sent to Australia as a result.

Image of middle aged man with eyes closed singing into a microphone.

Have a look at the beginning of the song.  Does this "sound" familiar?

By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young girl calling
Michael they are taking you away
For you stole Trevelyans corn
So the young might see the morn
Now a prison ship lay waiting in the bay

If you would like to skip forward to the full lyrics, click here.  You will also find two of our all-time favorite recordings of this song.

Not in a hurry?  Take a few minutes to learn a bit more about this important Irish song.

5 Things to Know About the Song

Here are five fun facts about Fields of Athenry lyrics.  Hopefully they will entice you to sing along next time you hear it!

  1. While many people think that Fields of Athenry is a very old historic song, its origins are relatively new. The song was written in the 1970s by Pete St. John. 
  2. The first recording of the song was by Danny Doyle. The Irish singer pushed the song into the public realm and became a top 10 hit.
  3. Fields of Athenry made it back to the top 10 list in Ireland many times since. Recordings by Barleycorn, Paddy Reilly, Cox Crew and Dance to Tipperary all broke into the Irish music charts, making the song a very recognizable one for multiple generations of Irish residents.
  4. The song has also made its way into global pop culture. International audiences heard Fields of Athenry when it was featured in films such as Priest, The Matchmaker, Veronica Guerin and Dead Poets Society. 
  5. Like many classic Irish songs, Fields of Athenry is now a sporting anthem. At a soccer game in the Euro 2012, Irish fans famously sang Fields of Athenry for a full six minutes once it became clear that their team was going to lose against Spain. The performance went viral!

Fields of Athenry Lyrics

By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young girl calling
Michael they are taking you away
For you stole Trevelyans corn
So the young might see the morn
Now a prison ship lay waiting in the bay

Chorus:
Low lie the fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly
Our love was on the wing
We had Dreams and songs to sing
It's so lonely round the fields of Athenry

By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young man calling
Nothing matters Mary when you're free
Against the famine and the crown
I rebelled they cut me down
Now you must raise our child with dignity

Chorus

By a lonely harbour wall
She watched the last star falling
As the prison ship sailed out against the sky
For she lives to hope and pray
For her love in Botany bay
It's so lonely around the fields of Athenry

Songwriters: Tom Kochan

Fields of Athenry lyrics © Fearless Lieder

Our Favorite Performance

Paddy Reilly's lovely voice and audience participation make this our favorite version.


Another Version - Which Do You Like Better?

A harder version, from Dropkick Murphy's.

Which one do you prefer?


Want More Irish Song Lyrics?

It is probably obvious - at Irish Expressions, we love Irish songs!  The music of the Emerald Isle brings people together, telling stories that touch every human emotion.

Learning the lyrics and singing these songs gives us a deeper sense of connection with Ireland, wherever in the world we happen to be!

We have captured 10 of our favorite Irish songs - like Danny Boy, Wild Rover and Red is the Rose in an e-book we call "An Illustrated Irish Songbook."

This fun, free guide is available to you to download.  Simply scroll to the bottom of the page and enter your email address to get instant access!

What's Next?

Folk songs like this one are an essential part of Irish culture and heritage. Even if you're not really into folk music, these Irish melodies tell fascinating stories that take you back to special times in Ireland's long and proud history. 

  • Sing them, listen to them, dance to them, to celebrate Irish culture and share your personal Irish side!
  • For more information of this type, you may want to pay a visit to our main section on Irish Song Lyrics.

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A Note from Bruce

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