Farewell! my country, a long farewell,
My bitter anguish no tongue call tell,
For I must fly o’er the ocean wide
From the home I loved by Lough Sheelin’s side.
Fond memories come till my heart grows sad,
And vengeful thoughts till my brain goes mad,
When I think of Ellen, my gentle bride,
In the churchyard lone by Lough Sheelin’s side.
When first I wooed her so fair and young,
With her artless air and her guileless tongue,
All other maidens she far outvied
On the lonely banks by Lough Sheelin’s side.
At the village dance on the shamrock plain
To blind O’Leary’s enchanting strain
No foot like her’s could so nimbly play
None smile so sweetly or laugh so gay.
Ah! proud was I of my girl so tall
And envied most by the young men all
When I brought her blushing a bashful bride
To my cottage home by Lough Sheelin’s side.
But oh! our joy was too full to last;
The landlord came our young hopes to blast;
In vain we pleaded for mercy – no!
He turned us out in the blinding snow.
And none dare open for us their door
Or else his vengeance would reach them sure;
My Ellen fainted – in my arms died –
While the snow fell fast on the mountain side.
I said one prayer for my lifeless love,
And raised my hands to Heaven above
“Oh, God of justice” I wildly cried,
“Avenge the death of my murdered bride.”
We buried her down in the churchyard low,
Where in the springtime the daisies blow,
I shed no tear for the fount had dried
On that woeful night by Lough Sheelin’s side.
Farewell! my country; farewell for aye!
The ship will soon bear me away,
But, oh, my fond heart will still abide
In my Ellen’s grave by Lough Sheelin’s side.
Although It is not known for certain whether the song is of Cavan, Meath or Westmeath origin, and there were extensive clearances of tenants in the post Famine years in both Cavan and Westmeath, it is thought to be about the eviction of some 700 souls from their homes one cold February night in the late 1840s in the once thriving village of Tonagh near Ross in County Meath. In an article in the Heart of Breffni (1984) Seamus P O’ Mordha cites the first printed source of the song as the local Anglo Celt newspaper. The editorial note that appears under the title of the song states “The Following Song was popular many years ago. Ed. A.C.” The first printed version had ten verses.
A version of the song called Lough Sheelin Eviction has also been arranged by the balled group The Wolfe Tones.