From the recording Wild And Wicked Youth

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Mark Clavey: vocals, guitar
Mary Hanover: vocals, hammered dulcimer
Rachel Gaither: lead vocals, fiddle

"There are several kinds of power working at the fabric of the Republic - water-power, steam-power and Irish-power. The last works hardest of all." This was the testament of an American journalist to the purposefulness of the Irish presence in mid-19th century America. Emigration has been a feature of Irish history more than almost any other country in the world. From 1815 to 1845, the number of emigrants increased by two orders of magnitude. In the ten years that followed, one quarter of Ireland's population had emigrated to the US… fleeing the potato blight, a ruined agricultural economy, the Great Famine, and an outbreak of typhus… and swelling the populations of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, New York, and Kansas City. It’s no surprise that by 1870, 11% of Irish emigrants were bound for Australia and New Zealand. Regardless of anyone’s attitude to Irish settlers, freemen or convicts, the shortage of labor in the colony meant that there was work for everyone who wanted it; the promise of brighter fortune there was far and away more appealing than the virtual certainty of failure at home. This song comes from the treasure-trove of music popularized by the Wolfe Tones, and reminds us that, contrary to conventional wisdom, Irish songs (occasionally) DO have happy endings.


"Sweetheart, I'm bidding you fond farewell," murmured a youth one day. "I'm off to the New World, my fortune to try, and I'm ready to sail away.

"Far away in Australia, soon will fate be kind, and I’ll be ready to welcome the lass - the girl I left behind."

"Must we be parted?" his fair one cried. "I can't let you go." "Still, I must leave you," the young man replied, "but for only for a while, you know.

"Far away in Australia, &c"

"Whether in fortune or failure, I'll always be true. Proudly each day, in that land far away, I'll be building a home for you."

"Far away in Australia, &c"

Daily she waits at the old cottage gate, watching the whole day through 'til that sweet message comes over the waves in the New World to join the two.

"Far away in Australia, &c"