By the hush – a traditional, Irish folk song, sung a cappella

Hello friends,

How are you doing? It has been a while since my last musical post hasn’t it? Ah well, building a house has sapped a lot of my focus and energy of late, because Brett and I have been battling against the weather to close the roof and walls in. We are getting there!

I am happy to say that with the onset of Spring, I am much more energised and we have some warm, dry days, which have enabled us to get a lot of work done. It feels so good to get back to some music again. Note to self – make more time to do what I love.

Recently, I have been reflecting upon the myriad reasons why people leave their homes to start a new life elsewhere and then I remembered an old, traditional, Irish folk song I used to sing at folk clubs in England, many years ago. It is called “By the Hush“ and it tells the tale of some Irish folk who left their beloved homes, family, friends and sweethearts to start a new life in the USA, only to have their dreams of a better life dashed. You will hear why.

A fellow folk singer called Frank Corr, an Irishman, whom I met at the Fox and Hounds folk club in Crookham in 1994 taught me this song. He played in a folk band and invited me to sing this song at a folk club in Nettlebed. Frank also encouraged me to listen to Dolores Keane and Mary Black, among other great artists. I am forever grateful to him for introducing me to this song.

On my mother’s side of the family, in her mother’s (my Nana’s) lineage, I know that some of our family came from Enniskillen in Ireland. My mum told me years ago that some members of the family left Ireland to go and live in the USA and Australia but sadly, I do not know anything more about them or how they fared. Often, I feel drawn to Irish folk songs in particular. Perhaps it is because it is ‘in my blood’ so to speak or the melodies and stories they share captivate my heart. Either way, I think it important that we keep these traditional songs alive and I hope you will find it interesting.

I have tried to find out more about this song but I have not yet found any information on its origin or who wrote the lyrics or melody. If you happen to know anything about it I would be most grateful if you could let me know in the comments below this post. Thanks a lot. For now, I will share the lyrics I learned.

By the hush – lyrics

Verse 1

Well it’s by the hush ma boys,

I should ask to hold your noise

And listen to poor Paddy’s sad narration.

I was by hunger pressed and in poverty distressed,

I took a thought I’d leave the Irish nation.

So I sold my horse and cow and my little pigs and sow,

My little plot of land I soon departed with.

And my sweetheart Biddy McGee,

I’m afraid I’ll never see,

I left her there that morning broken hearted.


Here’s you boys now take my advice,

To America I’ll hark is not becoming,

There is nothing here but war,

Where the murdering canons roar

And I wish that I’d stayed home in dear old Dublin.

Verse 2

So myself and a hundred more,

To America sailed o’er,

Our fortunes to be made we were thinking,

When we got to yankee land,

They shoved a gun into our hands,

Sayin’ Paddy you must go and fight for an income.

Chorus (as above)

Verse 3

General Mahar (Meagher) to us he said,

You’ll get shot or lose your head,

Each murdered soul of yous will get a pension,

Well myself I lost a leg,

They gave me a wooden peg,

By God this is the truth to you I mention.

Chorus (as above)

Verse 4

Well I think myself in luck,

If I get fed on Indian buck,

But Old Ireland is the country I delight in,

With the Devil I do say,

Its curse Amerikay,

I think I’ve had enough of your harsh fighting.

Chorus (sing twice)

Thank you for watching, listening and reading!

Let us keep in our minds and our hearts the millions of people around the world today, who have had to make the heartbreaking choice to flee their homes and often loved ones for a variety of reasons, embarking on treacherous journeys to find safety in the hope of building a new life in another country and culture.

Will we give them a warm welcome and a helping hand?

Peace, love and light,

Sarah x


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