A Personal Note

When my Dad died he and I had been working on doing a book of these songs. I well remember one day after he died, riding my bike down Leeson Street and thinking of what we were going to do with this collection. Then I realized that he was no longer here - this is when the full realization of my loss hit home. I still miss him 32 years later, but these days I can feel him around me.

I decided that I would do the work by myself and found a publisher and a person, who shall be nameless, to write down the tunes to songs where we had tunes and to set tunes to songs where we did not. That individual never got up off his rear end to do anything and before I could find a replacement I left for the United States and the project died. I completely forgot until recently, when going through my papers, that I had done much of my work on the book - an introduction and notes on most of the 89 songs to be published. As I read through what I wrote, there are bits where I am embarassed at the juvenility of some of it and amazed at how much I have forgotten over the years. You can see for yourself here.

Niall MacDonagh

Songs Collected by Donagh MacDonagh

For those of you who only want to get to the songs (and there is nothing wrong with that) go to the songs.. To download the entire collection of 300+ songs in a 250k (not 250MB) zip file, download the Donagh MacDonagh song collection as a zipped file.


Back in the 40s and 50s my Dad did a programme on Radio Eireann called Ireland is Singing. Songs for the programme were sent in by listeners and the staff would set them to a tune (for the most part the songs did not come with any indication of the correct tune) and they would be sung on the programme. This resulted in a major body of songs, many of which are not commonly available elsewhere. The original, mostly handwritten, sheets are at the Department of Irish Folklore in University College Dublin. For over 30 years, the typewritten copies have been sitting on my shelves while I tried to figure out how to make them more widely available. The Internet provides me with the ideal way to do so and this site is the result.

I have to start out with a disclaimer. My Dad was an enthusiast, not a folklorist and in his papers I have found songs lifted from books, recordings and even songs he wrote intermixed with material he collected. I have tried to eliminate songs that he might have acquired from sources other than collection from the source (except for a few written by him and so noted), but it is entirely possible that I have missed some. I have also refrained from putting on what I consider to be well known songs unless the version here is substantially different to the well know one(s) or, as in a couple of cases, I have a sentimental attachment to the song. Anyone who would like to check out my father's own writing (poetry,plays, translations from the Irish and songs) can go to Plays, poetry and songs by Donagh MacDonagh


Only in a few cases did anyone send in music with these songs, so potential singers will have to fit a tune to them or find the original. The frustration for me is that I know the tunes to a lot of them, but, not being able to sing (not even well enough to hint at the tune to a singer) or play a musical instrument, they are stuck in my head. So if anyone knows any of the tunes for these songs I would very much appreciate it if they could be e-mailed to me at ComeByTheHills@Yahoo.com. Also - if anyone could help by transcribing tunes from tapes that I would supply, I, and many singers, would be very grateful. Finally, people who know of recordings of any of these songs or variants of them or songs to the same tune are encouraged to send along that information.

Naturally, I welcome all other comments. In particular I would like to know if I have inadvertently included copyrighted material.


To Patricia O'Brien, Naka Ishii, Barbara Currier, Sean Morrison and Tina Carlsen who did the bulk of the work retyping these songs from JPG images.

Now - go to the songs.. To download the entire collection of 300+ songs in a 250k (not 250MB) zip file, download the Donagh MacDonagh song collection as a zipped file.