Sunday, April 24, 2022


Kate and I regularly drive to Canberra to spend weekends with Kate’s dad. It has become customary for us to play Fureys’ CDs on the trip, the Fureys being a wonderful Irish folk band. We were privileged to attend one of Finbar Furey’s performances years ago. They have also had hits performing with Irish singer Davey Arthur.

Readers may remember their renditions of When You Were Sweet Sixteen, Green Fields of France and Red Rose Café.

On the last occasion we travelled I was more closely listening to The Reason I left Mullingar and it occurred to me that the lyrics, quite poignant and meaningful, are poetic even without the music, plus containing some truths and observations that are worth taking note of.

About the song:

It was written by Pat Cooksey , the following being from Pat Cooksey’s website:
Written in 1980 for The Furey's, the original arrangement was by Finbar Furey. This song has also been widely recorded by other artists but The Furey's version is considered to be the best. The song is dedicated to the thousands of lrish building workers who left horne to find work in London in the mid 70's, and the homesickness created by the endless cycle of work and drinking.

About Mullingar:

Mullingar (meaning 'the left-hand mill') is the county town of County Westmeath in Ireland. It is the third most populous town in the Midland Region, with a population of 20,928 in the 2016 census. The town was originally named Maelblatha, and takes its modern name from a mill noted in the legend of Colman of Mullingar.

Traditionally a market town serving the large agricultural hinterland, Mullingar remains a significant commercial location. It had a tradition of cattle trading until 2003 when its cattle market was closed for the development of a mixed commercial and residential scheme called Market Point. However, in 2014 the local County Council have allowed an annual Christmas Market to take place on Mount Street.


Hear The Fureys and Davey Arthur sing The Reason I left Mullingar by clicking on the following link:

A version by Noel McLoughlin:

A version by Andy MacWild:

The Lyrics:

(Pat Cooksey)

I walk through this city a stranger
In a land I can never call home
And I curse the sad notion that caused me
In search of my fortune to roam
I'm weary of work and hard drinking
My week's wages left in the bar
And God it's a shame, to use a friend's name
To beg for the price of a jar.

I remember that bright April morning
When I left home to travel afar
To work till you're dead, for one room and a bed
It's not the reason I left Mullingar.

This London's a city of heartbreak
On Friday there's friends by the score
But when the pay's finished on Monday
A friend's not a friend anymore
For the working day seems never ending
From the shovel and pick there's no break
And when you're not working you're spending
The fortune you left home to make.


And for every man here that finds fortune
And comes home to tell of the tale
Each morning the Broadway is crowded
With many the thousands who fail
So young men of Ireland take warning
In London you never will find
The gold at the end of the rainbow
For you might just have left it behind.


Some bonus links:

The Fureys
The Green Fields of France

The Fureys and Davey Arthur
The Mountains of Mourne

Finbar Furey
Sweet Sixteen

The Fureys
The Old Man

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