This song was written by Tommy Makem in 1967. The old woman in the song is a traditional poetic allusion to Ireland. The four fields refer to the traditional provinces of Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht, with Ulster being the one "in bondage" and "In stanger's hands".
What did I have, said the fine old woman
What did I have, this proud old woman did say
I had four green fields, each one was a jewel
But strangers came and tried to take them from me
I had fine strong sons, who fought to save my jewels
They fought and they died, and that was my grief said she
Long time ago, said the fine old woman
Long time ago, this proud old woman did say
There was war and death, plundering and pillage
My children starved, by mountain, valley and sea
And their wailing cries, they shook the very heavens
My four green fields ran red with their blood, said she
What have I now, said the fine old woman
What have I now, this proud old woman did say
I have four green fields, one of them's in bondage
In stranger's hands, that tried to take it from me
But my sons had sons, as brave as were their fathers
And my four green fields will bloom once again said she
I learnt this song at the Irish Songs and Singing class at the Hammersmith Irish Centre in London.
This song can be heard on the following albums:
Video of Tommy Makem singing this song
Information about the background and interpretations of this song
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