This week we’ve decided to continue our theme of deportation of convicts to Australia and gone for a song that focuses more on the family left behind as opposed to last week’s Jim Jones at Botany Bay which was from the convict’s perspective. This is an absolute Irish classic and a great favourite of ours: The Fields of Athenry
The song is quite a modern folk tune, written in the 1970s by Pete St John and originally recorded in 1979 by Danny Doyle. It centres around the years of the Great Famine (1845-50) and on a man, Michael, who steals his lord’s corn to feed his family. The lord is referred to as “Trevelyne” which is a reference to Charles Trevelyan who was a British civil servant, greatly disliked by the Irish, who believed the famine was an “effective mechanism for reducing surplus population” and famously said “God sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson.” Michael is sentenced to deportation to Botany Bay, leaving behind his wife Mary and their young child.
The song has been performed by far too many great musicians to list here, although our personal favourites are a great version by Máiréad Carlin and of course The Dubliners.
We truly love this song, and it’s going to be a stalwart of our sets for a long time to come! We hope you enjoy it too 🙂 x