“The Gallant Farmer's Farewell to Ireland”


Michael Hayes claims he shot the land agent when he went to pay his rent and he has been running since. He describes the manhunt across Ireland and on ships at port. They go to America: "The paper said they had him caught" but he was not.


Compare "The Gallant Farmers' Farewell to Ireland" to broadside

Bodleian, 2806 c.8(158), "The Great Elopement to America" ("Farewell to old Ireland the land of my fathers"), Haly (Cork), 19C.

One of these is clearly derived from the other.

Here is the first verse of "The Gallant Farmers' Farewell to Ireland" [broadside Bodleian Harding B 26(201)] with Brereton's spelling:

Farewell to old Ireland the land of my Fathers,

From house home and farm I sharp had to flee,

I went to pay my rent on a fine summers morning

Myself and the agent we there did disgree

I had the money in my hand he told me I should quit the land

The truth to tel you know right well his words did me displease

He fel a victim to a shot his agency he soon forgot

And since that day theyre searching for the farmer Michael Hayes.

Here is the first verse of "The Great Elopement to America" [broadside Bodleian 2806 c.8(158)]:

Farewell to old Ireland the land of my fathers,

From house, home and farm, quite sharp I had to flee,

I once fell a courting a rich farmer's daughter

Myself and her father we could not agree;

500 pounds she had in hand, she asked me would I leave the land

I said I would, and to I did, and thought it no disgrace

To America we sailed off, we went as quick caused many to laugh

And since that day he is searching for his daughter Nancy Keays.

The description is based on broadside Bodleian, Harding B 26(201).

Zimmermann: "This ballad shows how a probably hateful character could become a gallant hero in the eyes of the oppressed peasants. Michael Hayes had been for many years the ruthless bailiff of a land agent, for whom he was said to have evicted more than one thousand people in one parish alone.... When he grew too old for this job he was allowed to stay on the land as a farmer, but a notice to quit was finally served on him too. He shot the agent in a hotel in Tipperary, (30th July, 1862)." In spite of a manhunt he was never caught. - BS

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Harding B 26(201), "The Gallant Farmers' Farewell to Ireland" ("Farewell to old Irelaud [sic] the land of my fathers")," P. Brereton (Dublin), c.1867


  1. Zimmermann 68B, "The Gallant Farmer's Farewell to Ireland" (1 fragment)
  2. BI, Zimm068B


Author: T. Walsh (according to broadside Bodleian Harding B 26(201))
Earliest date: 1966 (Zimmermann)