mary dillon - The Green Fields of Canada

Viewpoint (location 7)


The Green Fields of Canada is a very poignant song of emigration, the singer lamenting the difficulties of home and yearning for the greener field across the Atlantic. Emigration only occurs when life at home is too harsh, and the lure of a better existence elsewhere too strong. Ireland has had for centuries an undeniable link with north America, emigrants drawn to its seemingly endless possibilities and the bearing the diaspora has had on that continent is unfathomable. And as we often find in the Irish song tradition, the words here are full of hope but the melody is one of sad despair, implying that deep down the singer knows before heading across the ocean that things won’t actually be that good – home will be missed.

Farewell to the groves of shellelagh and shamrock Farewell to the girls of Old Ireland all round May their hearts be as merry as ever I would wish them When far away across the ocean I'm bound

Oh my father is old and my mother quite feeble To leave their own country it grieves their hearts sore Oh the tears in great drops down their cheeks thy are rolling To think they must die upon some foreign shore

But what matters to me where my bones may be buried If in peace and contentment I can spend my life Oh the green fields of Canada they daily are blooming It's there I'll put an end to my misiries and strife.

Then it's pack up your seastores and tarry no longer Ten dollars a week isn't very bad pay; With no taxes or tithes to devour up your wages When you're on the green fields of Amerikay

The lint dams are dry and the looms are all broken, The coopers are gone and the winders of creels, Away o'er the ocean go journeymen tailors, And fiddlers who flaked out the old mountain reels.

The sheep run unshorn and the land's gone to rushes The handyman's gone and the winders of creals Away across the ocean good journeyman tailors And fiddlers that play out the old mountain tunes. 

Farewell to the dances in homes now deserted, When tips struck the lightening in splanks from the floor, The paving and crigging of hobnails on flagstones The tears of the old folk and shouts of encore.

For the landlords and bailiffs in vile combination, Have forced us from hearthstone and homestead away May the crowbar brigade all be doomed to damnation When we're on the fields of Americay.

The timber grows thick on the slopes of Columbia With Douglas in grandeur two hundred feet tall, The salmon and sturgeon dam streamlet and river, And the high Rocky Mountains look down on it all.

On the prairie and plain sure the wheat waves all golden The maple gives sugar to sweeten your tay. You won't want for corn cob way out in Saskatchewan When you're in the green fields of Americay.

And if you grow weary of pleasure and plenty Of fruit from the orchard and fish from the foam, There's health and good hunting 'way back in the forests Where herds of great moose and wild buffalo roam.

And it's now to conclude and to finish my ditty If ever friendless Irishmen chances my way With the best in the house I will treat him, and welcome At home in the green fields of Amerikay.



Before leaving the Mellon Homestead, visit the viewpoint to take in the meandering River Strule and the distant Sperrin Mountain



It is a rare treat to have Mary Dillon collaborate on this project with us on Folk Park Live. She was raised in a musical household and one of her five siblings is fellow folk singer Cara Dillon. Mary Dillon started singing at an early age and by her mid-teens, she had twice won the All Ireland Singing Competition at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. She has recorded three albums with the Irish traditional band Déanta. She launched her solo career in 2010 and joined fellow Irish folk singers Niamh Parsons and Triona McSherry to form an a cappella group called Sí Van. Her debut solo album, North, showcases a diverse collection of folk songs from the Ulster singing tradition. The passion for collecting traditional songs is something that has clearly been passed down through generations in the Dillon family. Her songs encompass a wide range of themes and settings, with the central focus being on characters and a good story. The resultant performance is fiery and passionate, demonstrating one of the many strands of her vocal capability. Light and shade are created throughout her delivery, alongside emotional and poignant performances on the love songs and the Irish lament, ‘Ard Tí Chuain’. As well as ancient traditional songs, the album includes recent compositions, including her own song, ‘The Boatman’. Mary now mainly teaches but we were thrilled when she agreed to come on board and the resulting performance with Martin is nothing short of magical.