The lyrics to Carrickfergus as we now know them were first recorded by Dominic Behan in the mid 1960s.
He said he had learnt the song from fellow Irishman and actor Peter O’Toole.
The words tell the story of a wandering rover who is separated from his lover.
He cannot get to her because the sea lies between them. There are similar versions of the lyrics in most English speaking countries across the world, but Carrickfergus is probably the most widely known and recorded.
My childhood days bring back sad reflections
Of happy times I spent so long ago.
My boyhood friends and my own relations
Have all passed on now like melting snow.
But I’ll spend my days in endless roaming,
Soft is the grass my bed is free.
Ah to be back in Carrickfergus
On that long road down to the sea.
And in Kilkenny it is reported
There are marble stones as black as ink,
With gold and silver I would support her,
But I’ll sing no more now till I get a drink.
I’m drunk today and I’m seldom sober,
A handsome rover from town to town.
Ah, but I’m sick now, my days are numbered
So come all ye young men and lay me down.