Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Mountains Of Mourne

Song By Percy French

The Mountains Of Mourne (originally known as The Mountains O' Mourne) is a song, written by Percy French (1854-1920) in 1902 and set to the tune adapted by Houston Collisson (1865-1920) from the traditional Irish folk tune "Carrigdonn" or "Carrigdhoun".

The song is representative of French's many works concerning the Irish diaspora (dispersion or spread of a people from their original homeland). The Mourne Mountains referred to in the title are located in County Down in Northern Ireland.

The song is a whimsical look at the styles, attitudes and fashions of late nineteenth-century London as seen from the point of view of an emigrant labourer from a village near the Mourne Mountains.

It is written as a message to the narrator's true love at home. The "sweep down to the sea" refrain was inspired by the view of the mountains from Skerries in north County Dublin.

The song contrasts the artificial attractions of the city with the more natural beauty of his homeland.

Related Scottish Country Dances

The Mountains Of Mourne

The Mountains Of Mourne By Percy French

Oh, Mary, this London's a wonderful sight,
With people all working by day and by night.
Sure, they don't sow potatoes, nor barley, nor wheat,
But there's gangs of them digging for gold in the street.
At least when I asked them that's what I was told,
So I just took a hand at this digging for gold,
But for all that I found there I might as well be
Where the Mountains o' Mourne sweep down to the sea.

I believe that when writing a wish you expressed
As to how the fine ladies in London are dressed,
Well if you'll believe me, when asked to a ball,
They don't wear no top to their dresses at all.
Oh I've seen them meself and you could not in truth,
Say if they were bound for a ball or a bath.
Don't be starting such fashions, now, Mary, mo chroĆ­,
Where the Mountains o' Mourne sweep down to the sea.

I've seen England's king from the top of a bus
And I've never known him, but he means to know us.
And tho' by the Saxon we once were oppressed,
Still I cheered, God forgive me, I cheered with the rest.
And now that he's visited Erin's green shore
We'll be much better friends than we've been heretofore
When we've got all we want, we're as quiet as can be
Where the Mountains o' Mourne sweep down to the sea.

You remember young Peter O'Loughlin, of course,
Well, now he is here at the head of the Force.
I met him today, I was crossing the Strand,
And he stopped the whole street with a wave of his hand.
And there we stood talkin' of days that are gone,
While the whole population of London looked on.
But for all these great powers he's wishful like me,
To be back where the dark Mournes sweep down to the sea.

There's beautiful girls here, oh, never you mind,
With beautiful shapes nature never designed,
And lovely complexions all roses and cream,
But let me remark with regard to the same
That if of those roses you ventured to sip,
The colours might all come away on your lip,
So I'll wait for the wild rose that's waiting for me
In the place where the dark Mourne sweep down to the sea.

The phrase "mo chroĆ­", used in the second verse, is an endearing term in Irish Gaelic that translates to "my heart" in English. It is often used affectionately to refer to someone cherished or loved dearly. The literal translation is "my heart," but its usage conveys deep emotional attachment or affection towards another person.

The Mountains Of Mourne Song Video

The Mountains Of Mourne Song - Information Video
Percy French, bronze figure of the songwriter of The Mountains Of Mourne
Bronze Figure Of Percy French, Songwriter, The Mountains Of Mourne

Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original The Mountains Of Mourne article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright (cropped) Alanryanhall, Creative Commons Licence 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Back to the top of this 'The Mountains Of Mourne Song' page