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This beautiful song by Battlefield Band alum Alan Reid touches the listener as a lament for the Irish in the wake of the Great Famine, as an appeal to the Irish rooted in a closeness of both kinship and geography, and as a song of hope and promise. While emigration from Ireland dates to the Middle Ages, the Irish diaspora began in earnest when emigration from Ireland became a national enterprise (1700s) and a survival mechanism (1800s). Notwithstanding that Galloway and a people of common ancestry are a mere 20 miles from Belfast, North America was the most common destination of people fleeing Ireland in the 1800s. For every Irishman that sailed to England or Scotland, five sailed to Canada or the US. And mortality on the crowded, disease-ridden coffin-ships reached as high as 30%. All that said, it was typically the poorest who emigrated to Great Britain… and being predominantly Catholic and mostly farmers and unskilled laborers traveling to a predominantly Protestant country at the tail end of the Industrial Revolution… it’s not like the red carpet was rolled out for them no matter how beautiful Alan’s sentiments are…

Lyrics

Don’t turn to look on the green hills of Antrim. Fermanagh’s behind you, it’s time to move on. Look onwards tae Glasgow and all your tomorrows. The future lies there, and it’s waiting for you, as the green crosses over to meet with the blue.

And what was the sense when the wee ones were crying? The cries of the hungry, no sense to remain? No prayer can recover a sister or brother, so farewell to Fermanagh, the praying is done. Don’t turn to look on the green hills of Antrim…

The land that you leave has had too many martyrs and too many lives that have perished in vain, and too many boats slipping out from its harbours with cargoes that never came homewards again. Don’t turn to look on the green hills of Antrim…

If the wings of the eagle could carry you over to the land of the prairie, then surely you’d fly. But an ocean so wide, and a far distant country so far from your own land is no place to die. Don’t turn to look on the green hills of Antrim…

As the green crosses over… as the green crosses over to meet with the blue.