Lily Murphy delves into the background of one of our most popular Irish songs

No Irish sing-along is complete without a rendition of Spancil Hill.

It’s subject matter is a familiar one in the Irish ballad tradition; emigration, and tells of the longing an emigrant has for his home in Spancil Hill.

The name of Spancil Hill comes from the ancient horse fair that takes place there every June. Spancilling was an old and rather cruel practise in which a rope was used to tie a horse’s left fore leg to its right hind leg in order to stop it from wandering off.

The ballad of Spancil Hill was written by Michael Considine who did wander off.

 Born in Spancil Hill in 1850, Considine took himself off across the Atlantic in search of a better life at the age of 20.

Considine spent his first few years of emigration in Boston before moving west to follow the gold rush in California. He fell into bad health at the very young age of 23 and it was during this time that he wrote the poem of Spancil Hill which then turned into a ballad.

To continue reading please pick up a copy of Ireland’s Own