This page was created by Maren Connell.  The last update was by Emily Bengtson.

Star of the Sea : A Postcolonial/Postmodern Voyage into the Irish Famine


This version is sung by Sinéad O'Connor, Joseph O'Connor's sister.  The song tells the story of a young boy asking his father why they left Ireland.  The boy has heard great tales of his homeland and couldn’t imagine why his father would leave it. 

O Father dear, I oft times hear you speak of Erin's Isle
Her lofty scenes, her valleys green, her mountains rude and wild
They say it is a lovely land wherein a prince might dwell
Oh why did you abandon it? The reason, to me tell.

The father then tells his son that though he loved his home, he could not stay.  The song mentions the potato blight, livestock dying, high rent and taxes, and even eviction by fire, which was common in the time. 

O son, I loved my native land with energy and pride
'Til a blight came o'er my crops, my sheep and cattle died
My rent and taxes were too high, I could not them redeem
And that's the cruel reason that I left old Skibbereen.

O well do I remember the bleak December day
The landlord and the sheriff came to drive us all away
They set my roof on fire with cursed English spleen
And that's another reason that I left old Skibbereen.

The melody itself is slow and haunting, almost as if the memory of Ireland is haunting the father.  It’s his homeland, and he surely has happy memories there, but now when he thinks of Skibbereen, he is reminded of the horrible reasons that he is not there and that those conditions caused the mother of his son to die. The lyrics and the melody are heartbreaking.

Works Cited

Researcher/Writer: Michaila Gerlach
Technical Writers: Emily Bengtson and Maren Connell

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