“Kate Kearney”


Kate Kearney lives on the banks of Killarney. "Fatal's the glance of Kate Kearney; For that eye is so modestly beaming... Beware of her smile... And who dares inhale her sigh's spicy gale, must die by the breath of Kate Kearney"


O'Conor makes the attribution [to Charles Lever]. Kate Kearney is a character in Lever's _Lord Kilgobbin_ published as a serial in 1870-1872 (source: The University of Adelaide ebooks site). That would mean he created the character in song no later than 1842, 28 years before the serial was published. - BS

Hazel Felleman's _The Best Loved Poems of the American People_, p. 12, attributes this to Sady Morgan. I have found no other references to this author. The Amsco publication _The Library of Irish Music_ lists the words as by "Lady Morgan" (which obviously is a variant of the same thing), with "The Beardless Boy" as tune. Still, the attribution to Lever seems much stronger.

There is another broadside heroine named Kate Kearney (see broadside Murray, Mu23-y1:156, "Kate Kearney with the Silver Eye," James Lindsay (Glasgow), 19C); the song is not the same, but whether it inspired Lever, or was inspired by him, I cannot tell. Maybe *that* was written by Lady Sady Morgan? - RBW


  • Bodleian, Harding B 11(431), "Kate Kearney", W. & T. Fordyce (Newcastle), 1832-1842; also Harding B 11(1960), Harding B 11(1966), 2806 b.11(173), Harding B 28(150), Harding B 11(2067), Harding B 11(430), Firth b.25(142), Harding B 11(1961), Harding B 11(1963) [torn], Harding B 11(1958), Johnson Ballads fol. 113, "Kate Kearney"


  1. O'Conor, p. 17, "Kate Kearney" (1 text)
  2. BI, OCon017


Author: Charles Lever (1806-1872)
Earliest date: before 1843 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 11(431))