“Sean a Duir a'Ghleanna”


The first verse describes an unsuccessful fox hunt: "for royalty is banished" Sean meets beautiful Anna who invites him to "take compassion" He takes off his beaver hat and, answering her invitation, introduces himself as "a Galway man by extraction"


The name of the song in both OLochlainn and the Bodleain broadsides is from the last line: "I'm a Galway man by extraction, bred in Connamara, And [song title] they call me by name." It's easiest to find versions from the first line which is always close to "One morning I started From the arms of Morpheus."

The ornate descriptions and the ending with an introduction to a beautiful woman remind me of Thomas Moore's "Rich and Rare Were The Gems She Wore." Adding to my suspicion that there is more nationalism coded here than I understand is the OLochlainn note that 'the late Canon Sheehan wrote a fine song "After Aughrim's great disaster" founded on this ballad.'

In this connection see the Mudcat Cafe threads re "After Aughrim's Great Disaster" and "Sean O'Duibhir A Ghleanna." The text of "Sean O Duibhir An Ghleanna" ("Sean O'Dwyer of the Glen") listed there is either the source or derivative of this song and is clearly a song of desperation; the source there is Danny Spooner and Mick Farrell 'In Limbo and Other Songs and Places' Anthology AR003. The text of "After Aughrim's Great Disaster" refers to the battle of July 12, 1691: "Ah, Sean o Duibhir an Ghleanna, we were worsted in the game." - BS

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Harding B 15(149b), "John Adwire Anglanna," H. Such (London), 1863-1885; also Harding B 11(4385), "John Adwire Anglanna"; 2806 b.9(41), 2806 b.11(44), Harding B 19(42), "John O'Dwyer-a-Glana"


  1. OLochlainn 81, "Sean a Duir a'Ghleanna" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BI, OLoc081


Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1886 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 15(149b))
Keywords: courting beauty hunting
Found in: Ireland