“The Rocks of Bawn”


Singer warns fellow-laborers not to hire with any master without knowing what the work will be. He describes his decrepit condition, and declares that even the British army would offer a better life (but he has not been invited to join)


In the seventeeth century, Cromwell's army's drove the Irish "to Hell or to Connaught" -- to the submarginal lands of the western coast, where life was exceptionally hard. - PJS

Although it is quite true that the Irish were concentrated in the poorest lands, especially in the far west (note that almost all native speakers of Gaelic are in the west), Cromwell is hardly the only guilty party (though his guilt was extreme; see the notes to "The Wexford Massacre"). The British initially settled in the "Pale" around Dublin, and most later colonists also landed in the east. Thus there was a constant westward pressure on the native Irish -- especially those unwilling to accept British institutions such as the Anglican church. - RBW

Same tune

  • Lovely Jane from Enniskea (File: MoMa005)

Cross references


  • Seamus Ennis, "The Rocks of Bawn" [incomplete] (on Lomax42, LomaxCD1742)
  • Joe Heaney, "The Rocks of Bawn" (on Pubs1, Voice05)
  • Tom Lenihan, "The Rocks of Bawn" (on IRTLenihan01)


  1. SHenry H139, p. 42, "The Rocks of Bawn" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. OLochlainn 23, "The Rocks of Baun" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Munnelly/Deasy-Lenihan 4, "The Rocks of Bawn" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Roud #3024
  6. BI, DTrockba


Author: Martin Swiney ? (attribution by Dominic Behan, according to Munnelly/Deasy-Lenihan)
Earliest date: 1926 (Collected by Sam Henry)
Found in: Ireland