(And yes, there is similarity in the English version to an English folk song, “The Water is Wide,” in the second stanza that is not at all in the original Irish)
I wish I was in Carrickfergus
Only for nights in Ballygran
I would swim over the deepest ocean
The deepest ocean, my love to find
However, it started out as a completely different song called “Do Bhí Bean Uasal” Or “There Was a Noblewoman.” There’s no really good English translation of the lyrics, but it’s essentially about a man loving a woman from County Clare, wanting to marry her on St. Michael’s day, and then leaving her because she has two daughters. And then he’s injured and drunk and roving - typical love song fare.
But here is the first verse of the Irish version:
And for comparison's sake, here is the first verse of the English version translated to Irish:
Do bhí bean uasal seal dá lua liom,
's chuir sí suas díom fóraíl ghéar;
Do ghabhas lastuas di sna bailte móra
Ach go dtug sí svae léi os comhair an tsaoil.
Is mian liom go raibh mé i Carrickfergus
Ach amháin le haghaidh oiche i Ballygran
Ba mhaith liom ag snamh os cionn na farraige is doimhne
An farraige is doimhne le mo ghrá a aimsiú
This type of song is sometimes called macaronic, meaning that it either is different in different languages, or alternates between two languages throughout the lyrics.
“The Land of the Gael” has some macaronic elements in that it has a few Irish place names in it. In Star of the Sea, a central character, Pius Mulvey, gets his start as a singer/performer (which eventually leads him to writing a ballad of his own) by singing a macaronic song.
"Do Bhí Bean Uasal." SongsInIrish.com. Wolf Default RSS. Web. 05 Apr. 2016.
Google Translate provided the Irish translation of the English lyrics.