“Come Back to Erin”


The singer's sweetheart has left Killarney for England. He seems surprised that "my heart sank when clouds came between us... Oh, may the angels, oh, waking and sleeping Watch o'er my bird in the land far away." Does she think of me?


According to Sigmund Spaeth, _A History of Popular Music in America_, p. 143, Claribel "managed to turn out both words andmusic of a great many ballads that found immediate favor on both sides of the Atlantic. Her first song to make it mark here was called _Janet's Choice_, appearing in London in 1860, although its American publication was delayed until 1871.... [She] made her most lasting impression with _Come Back to Erin_ (1868), which is still heard with honest preasure and often regarded as an Irish folk-song. Mrs. Barnard was a woman of some musical education, but depended chiefly on her intuitive expression of the sentimentality of her day."

I do not know how to reconcile Spaeth's statement that the song was published in 1868 with the broadside which seems to come from at least two years earlier. Perhaps the broadside was pirated from one of Claribel's performances? - RBW


  • Bodleian, Harding B 11(965), "Come Back to Erin", J. Harkness (Preston), 1840-1866; also Firth c.12(253), 2806 c.8(238), Harding B 15(49a), Johnson Ballads 1898, 2806 b.11(224), Firth c.12(253), "Come Back to Erin"; 2806 c.8(237), "Come Back to Erin, Mavourneen, Mavourneen"


  1. Dean, pp. 79-80, "Come Back to Erin" (1 text)
  2. O'Conor, p. 103, "Come Back to Erin" (1 text)
  3. Roud #13846
  4. BI, OCon103


Author: Charlotte Alington Barnard ("Claribel") (1830-1869)
Earliest date: before 1867 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 11(965))
Found in: US(MW)