Patrick’s Hill

 

I’ve been carrying this story around since I was ten years old. It’s like a rum-shaped bracket that a DIYer would keep on the oddments shelf, knowing that someday, it would fit something, somewhere.

In 1959 the parents and two remaining children of a family, left their 2up2down in the Fairgreen, in Limerick and flew to Boston. The other five or six children were already living in Boston and by now had persuaded the parents to shut up shop and leave Ireland for good. Brendan, who was one of the boys still at home, was in class with me in CBS, Sexton Street. I envied Brendan’s blessed release from the tyranny of the Christian Brothers and wished that I were in his shoes.

To my knowledge, American wakes were not common in big towns at the time…though many a poor country household was abandoned forever and allowed to perish in the elements. I remember a happy hullabaloo in the house and on the street on the night of their departure and the Limerick pipe band playing them onto the turboprop in Shannon Airport.

I never heard of the family again, but on going though my parent’s effects after their death, I came upon a magazine. It was an edition of the monthly staff magazine of the Boston Edison Light Company, and five members of the family were featured on the cover. They were all dressed in the working uniforms of the Company, with the company logo emblazoned on their jackets. They looked to be hale, hearty, and thriving.

Here in 2009 this scenario started to play out again. You’d imagine that in the intervening 60years we’d have learned how to hold our own?


4 responses to “Patrick’s Hill

  • TERRY BRENNAN

    As good a song as I heard in a long time Mick, right up there with Damaged Halo, and if right was right it would be a bestseller and make you a fortune, but we all know right is not right. As you say in 60 years you would imagine we,d have learned to hold our own.

  • Martin

    Hi Mick
    I only heard your music for the first time about 2 years ago and have been listening to it ever since. Just love the tone of your voice and some grat songs. Love your a big girl now and particularly Patrick’s Hill. I’ve been trying to find the chords and lyrics to Patricks Hill but can’t find them anywhere online as l would love to learn the song. I love to play for my own sanity after my beloved wife died of cancer a year and a half ago.
    Will definitely go to see you when your next touring Ireland if we ever ge out of this corona madness.
    Martin

    • mickhanly

      Hi Martin,
      Thanks for getting in touch and sincere condolences to you on the loss of your beloved…..and good to hear the music is bringing some shred of comfort to you in coping with your grief. Here is the lyric to Patrick’s Hill…..enjoy working on it, Mick

      Patrick’s Hill

      Verse 1.
      This story has no home, so I’ll tell it here
      Before the song and precious bones of it, disappear
      A tale of severing and loss of faith, in the scheme of things
      About the family next door who chose America.

      Verse 2.
      Their father was a labouring man, their mother Lily sat
      She tore the paper off the wall to light her cigarette
      By the fire she dreamed of movie stars and baby John
      With a restless heart she sighed and lit another one.

      Verse 3.
      Baby John was now a man but still her boy
      His aunt Bridgid paid his passage to Illinois
      Where he found his feet, then took the train to Boston town
      Sent the dollar home and put a marker down.

      Verse 4.
      Rita was the next to run she threw her smiles my way
      I was still a child but yet I recall the day
      I saw her Mother drench her flaming tresses with her tears
      I had games to play but the memory stayed forever.

      Chorus
      They flew like swallows with the fearlessness of blessed youth
      They flew like swallows in their Sunday best, and shining boot
      They flew like swallows, with dreams unfettered to fulfil
      But they never flew back here to Patrick’s Hill.

      Verse 5.
      One by one, year by year, without reprieve
      Molly, Mags, and Joseph in their turn knelt to receive
      Blessings and God speed for the other side
      On a one-way tide, they sought America.

      Verse 6.
      Sometimes Lily crumbled, when now and then
      John senior in his pain reached for his mandolin
      She held his cheeks and kissed them and asked him why?
      Must I live so far from my darlings?

      Verse 7.
      The prayed for letter came and set the Hill on fire
      Lily danced the news around in her night attire
      “Mags and Joe are permanent and the house is found
      I’m not long” she said for the Holy Ground.

      Verse 8.
      There were nights of song and bantering before the day
      Lily sang the Cow, Cow, Boogie and Johnny Ray
      In the small hours songs of sad regret and yearning
      We knew there was no returning.

      Chorus.

      Verse 9.
      Down the years they crossed my mind from time to time
      I can’t tell you if their leaving brought peace of mind
      But there’s one more detail I should mention
      They found work to do in Boston Edison
      They found work to do, they found work.

      Words & Music: Mick Hanly
      Copyright Control IMRO

      Verse 1.

      E………………………………………………A………………
      This story has no home, so I’ll tell it here
      A………..E……………………………………………………..B7……………
      Before the song and precious bones of it, disappear
      E…………………………………………………………………A…………………
      A tale of severing and loss of faith, in the scheme of things
      A………………E…………………………B7…………….E………………….
      About the family next door who chose America.

      Chorus
      E…………………….Bm……………………….E7…………………….A………….
      They flew like swallows with the fearlessness of blessed youth
      A…… Gbm………………….D………….A……………..E……………
      They flew like swallows in their Sunday best, and shining boot
      E……………………..Bm…………………E7…………………………..A………….
      They flew like swallows, with dreams unfettered to fulfil
      A………………………..Gbm……………….D..A……………B7
      But they never flew back here to Patrick’s Hill.

      E…………………..
      Oo bi li bi li bi lo
      A………………….
      Oo bi li bi li bi lo
      B7…………………
      Oo bi li bi li bi lo

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