“The Town I Loved So Well”


The singer recalls growing up in hard times in "the town I loved so well." He formed a band and married. The music is gone but he hopes for peace and a bright new day "in the town that I loved so well"

Long description

"In my memory I can always see The town that I loved so well" The singer recalls playing school ball by the smoky, smelly, gas yard wall and "running up the dark lane By the jail." Mothers were called from Creggan, the Moor, and the Bog to work in the shirt factory early in the morning. Men on the dole minded the children and trained the dog without complaining. The singer formed a band and married. Now the music is gone. He hopes for peace. "We can only pray for a bright new day, In the town that I loved so well"


Notes to IRHardySons: "This is a contemporary song written by Phil Coulter in the early 1970s that has been sucked into the tradition and altered somewhat in the process. Recorded by The Dubliners."

Wikipedia re "The Town I Loved So Well": "'The Town I Loved So Well's a song written by Phil Coulter about his childhood in Derry, Northern Ireland. The first three verses are about the simple lifestyle he grew up with in Derry, while the final two deal with the Troubles, and lament how his placid hometown had become a major military outpost, plagued with sectarian violence."

"The Town I Loved So Well" at Triskelle site, dated Dec. 13, 2005: "After 21 June 1972, Bloody Friday, the British army started a huge scaled military operation known as Operation Motorman. Army units with tanks and bulldozers cleared the barricades surrounding the so-called no-go areas in Creggan, Bogside and Andersontown. Northern Ireland really had become a war-zone." - BS

The mention of the Dole is, in many ways, even more indicative of Ulster's situation in this period than are the references to the Troubles. Violence in Ulster was not as high as we sometimes think -- the murder rate was lower than most big American cities in the same period (according to the chart on p. 260 of Ruth Dudley Edwards, _An Atlas of Irish History_, second edition, Routledge, 1981, even the worst year of the Troubles, 1972, saw fewer than 400 killed, and no other year witnessed as many as 300 deaths -- dreadful, yes, but not so high as to automatically destabilize a society. Northern Ireland's population at this time was about one and a half million, so we have a murder rate of about 25 per 100,000. Comparing this to the data for the United States (as found in the _Statistical Abstract of the United States 2000_, which covers the year 1998 -- the lowest crime rate year I found in a quick and incomplete sample), the murder rate in Detroit was 43.0 per 100,000; that in Baltimore was 47.1; that in New Orleans 48.8; that in Washington, DC, 49.7. In all, there are at least *nine* American cities which, in that good year, had higher murder rates than Ulster in its *worst* year.

But the decline of the British merchant fleet, and of the whole British economy, doomed the Belfast shipbuilding industry. The region's other major industry was textiles, and that too faded in the period. And the small size of Ulster made it economically inefficient, and the Irish Republic was an economic basket case due to the inefficiencies of the de Valera period, and the border regions were generally worst of all. Unemployment in Northern Ireland rose steadily in the 1970s to levels well above 10% -- by 1980, half the regions of Ulster had unemployment rates exceeding 15% (Edwards, p. 263); in perhaps a fifth of the country, it exceeded 20%. Edwards shows the Derry area as being in the 15-20% unemployment range. - RBW


  • Big John Maguire and daughter Kate, "The Town I Loved So Well" (on IRHardySons)


  1. DT, TWNLVD*


Author: Phil Coulter (source: notes to IRHardySons)
Earliest date: 1980 (IRHardySons)
Found in: Ireland