Oh father dear I often hear you speak of Dub, about
Its coffee smells, its Book of Kells, its billion pints of stout,
The thanks and please, the ocean breeze, and colleens by the ton.
Then tell me Dad what was so bad, you left old Ballymun?
Oh son, I loved my concrete home, its basements and its towers
Till I got the chop from my old job for canoodling in the showers.
My name was mud, my reference dud, my hopes for a rise undone
And that’s the cruel reason I left old Ballymun.
Before I left, was all upset and thought I’d change my mind.
My folks and friends took some offence, and let me in to find
Another boy, some hobbledehoy, had rented my room for one.
I heaved a sigh and said goodbye to dear old Ballymun.
My girlfriend too was bored I knew, and glad to see me go.
Apparently, she two-timed me with a plasterer called Joe.
I got the word and now absurd, what else could I do but run?
And that’s another reason I left old Ballymun.
That you exist, I somehow missed, till you turned up at my door
Ten years hence, with fifty pence and my darling from before.
More plastered, Joe, than plastering, he found out you’re my son,
Then changed the locks and said you pox, get out of Ballymun.
Oh father dear, let us stay here, I’m sorry if I weep.
I’ve made new friends here in Hatch End, and cider is so cheap.
I’ll tell you jokes and quit the smokes. Me ma says you’re the one.
And anyway, we have to stay - there’s no more Ballymun.
* I didn’t like any of the guitar chords I found online for Skibbereen, so I made my own ones that seem to work okay. I think it’s in waltz time (3 beats to the bar).
In my version:
[Am] Oh father dear [C] I often hear you [F] speak of [Em] Dub, [Am] about
[F] Its coffee smells, its [C] Book of Kells, its [Em] billion pints of [Am] stout.
[F] The thanks and please, the [C] ocean breeze, and [Em] colleens by the [Am] ton.
[Am] Then tell me, Dad, [C] what was so bad, you [F] left old [Em] Bally [Am] mun.
In original lyrics:
[Am] Oh father dear, [C] I often hear you [F] speak of [Em] Erin's [Am] isle
[F] Her lofty hills, her [C] valleys green, her [Em] mountains rude and [Am] wild
[F] They say she is a [C] lovely land where-[Em]-in a saint might [Am] dwell
[Am] So why did you [C] abandon her, the [F] reason [Em] to me [Am] tell.
In their recording, The Dubliners with Ronnie Drew singing, do it in F#m (i.e. Em shape but with a capo on the second fret).
27/5/23: I’ve simplified the chords by using C and F instead of Am7 and Dm7. You can see the chord shapes here. You can decorate the accompaniment more by splitting Em into Em and Em7 and the other ones above. Whether that adds to the effect or detracts is debatable. Sometimes “simple” hits home more.
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