“Good bye Mursheen Durkin”


Molly Durkin marries Tim O'Shea. Cooney, "to keep my heart from breakin', I sailed to Americay." He finds no work in New York. He goes to San Francisco, finds gold and heads back to Ireland where "I'll marry Miss O'Kelly, Molly Durkin for to spite"


O Lochlainn says "I learnt the last verse in childhood and 'invented' the other two finding nothing else but a fragment 'And now to end my story, I'll marry Queen Victorey'." What O Lochlainn remembers as the last verse appears to be the chorus. That fragment ending beats "I'll marry Miss O'Kelly" but otherwise "Molly Durkin" (on USBallinsloeFair) seems more authoritative.

In any case the description I used is from USBallinsloeFair. Here though is the description for O Lochlainn's version: Corney tires of courting and drinking locally. He goes off to roam the world. Then he tires "of all this pleasure" in Ireland and heads for New York. Now "good-bye Mursheen Durkin, Sure, I'm sick and tired of workin'" and heads for gold in California.

In Murty Rabbett's version the singer "landed in Castle Garden" in New York. That may be useful in bracketing the dates on that version. Castle Garden, before and again "Castle Clinton" at The Battery in New York, was the entry point for immigrants between 1845 and 1890 [see, for example, "Castle Garden, New York" transcribed from _The Illustrated American_ of March 1, 1890 at Norway-Heritage site]. One problem with using "Castle Garden" for dating is that the name may have remained synonymous with "entry point for New York" long after the building became the New York Aquarium. In my own family I heard about "Kesselgarten" sixty years after it closed, although my grandfather arrived in New York thirteen years after that building became home to captive fish.

For a similar Castle Garden(s) reference see the notes to "Castle Gardens (I)." - BS

Although O Lochlainn's text seems to be the source for almost every version known today, it seems to have been pretty heavily folk processed by revival singers. And I'm not talking about the zillion ways of spelling "Mursheen/Muirsheen."

According to Soodlum's Irish Ballad Book, the tune is "Cailini Deas Mhuigheo" ("The Beautiful Girls of Mayo").

I seem to recall reading somewhere that "Murisheen Durkin" is another name for Ireland. Of course, if you read enough Irish books, *everything* is a disguised name for Ireland. - RBW


  • Murty Rabbett, "Molly Durkin" (on USBallinsloeFair)


  1. OLochlainn-More 36, "Good bye Mursheen Durkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Roud #9753
  4. BI, OLcM036


Alternate titles: “Muirsheen Durkin”; “Muirton Durkin”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1929 (for USBallinsloeFair, according to site irishtune.info, Irish Traditional Music Tune Index: Alan Ng's Tunography, ref. Ng #1331)
Found in: Ireland