Dear Old Donegal (virtual tour and folk song)

Updated: Jan 31


Being a genealogy addict, one of my favorite things to do is watch videos about the places and events of my ancestors' past. While watching an interesting series about the Irish immigrants to America, I heard an Irish-American folk song that peaked my interest when I heard my Irish ancestor's name - "McGinnis" among the lyrics. The song is called "Dear Old Donegal" written by Steve Graham.


There are several variations of the song, but here you can listen to Bing Crosby singing a rendition of it in 1945, courtesy of Archive.org. Click the play button!

Have a look around Donegal while you listen, courtesy of Google Maps. Click or tap on the image or the arrows to move or look around.


Dear Old Donegal (Lyrics)

Three years ago this very day

I left the port of Cork

And on a ship from Erin's isle

I landed in New York


Without a friend to meet me there

The stranger on the shore

But I wore an honest Irish heart

And fortune came galore


So here I am back again

On dear old Erin's isle

My friends say meet me on the quay

And greet me with a smile


For their faces there I've surely forgot

For I was so long away

But me mother she introduces all

And this is what she say

Shake hands with your uncle Mike, me boy

Shake hands with your sister Kate

And this is the girl you used to swing down on the garden gate

Shake hands with all of the neighbors and kiss the Colleens all

You're as welcome as the flowers in May to Dear Old Donegal


Well they gave a party when I came back and they came from near and far

And the road was lined for near a mile with Irish jaunting cars

And the whiskey flowed like buttermilk to fill our hearts with joy

And the piper played an Irish reel to greet the Yankee boy


So tomorrow off to church I’ll go and wedded I will be

To my pretty little Colleen sweet Bitty McGee,

For Bitty was true and faithful to her Barney o'er the sea

And we’ll join the harps and shamrocks for the stars of liberty


There came Brannigan, Flannigan, Milligan, Gilligan,

Duffy, McGuffy, Malackey, Mahone,

Rafferty, Laugherty, Donnelly, Connelly,

Dooley, O'Hooley, Muldowney, Malone,

Colona, O'Honahar, Lanihan, Flannihan,

Fagen, O'Hagen, O'Hoolihan, Flynn,

Shannahan, Manahan, Fogerty, Hogerty,

Kelly, O'Skelly, McGinnis, McGinn.


Then shake the hand of your uncle Mike

And the hand of your sister Kate

And I’ll hug and I’ll squeeze as much as I please the girl in the Garden Gate

Then invite all the neighbors to the wedding great and small

And I’ll live content and pay no rent in Dear Old Donegal


Click here for Irish genealogy resources.

Click here to learn about my McGinnis ancestors.


#irish #ireland #genealogy #music #song #irishamerican #folksong #mcginnis

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