Last night as I lay dreaming of the pleasant days gone by,

My mind being bent on rambling, to Erin’s Isle I did fly.

I stepped on board a vision and sailed out with a will,

‘Till I gladly came to anchor at the Cross of Spancil Hill…

This is the opening of an extraordinary poem written by a man named Michael Considine. In 1870 Michael left his home at the crossroads called Spancil Hill, a few miles outside Ennis in County Clare, seeking his fortune in America with the intention of bringing his sweetheart, Mary McNamara, to join him as soon as he was able. Sadly, in 1873 at the age of 23, Michael fell ill in California and died before seeing Mary or his home in Clare again. But, this being the story of an Irishman, it ends with a poem – which of course was eventually turned into a haunting ballad. While he was ill, and perhaps knowing he was dying, Michael wrote this poem and before he passed away, posted it to John, his six-year-old nephew back in Spancil Hill. The original version of the song Spancil Hill, traces back to the late 1930’s to early ’40s and a local man named Robbie McMahon, who was given the original text by a relative of Michael Considine.

I stumbled upon a brilliant version of Spancil Hill on youtube a few days ago, while cruising for music to get me through the winter doldrums of my Chicago suburb. Here the Irish folk legend and balladeer, Christy Moore joins with Shane MacGowan, the phenomenal, albeit tooth-challenged, talent of Celtic Rock and Punk renown, to give a beautiful rendition of the musical version of Considine’s heart-rending poem, which tells the story of the yearning for home, wherever that might be.

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