“The Praties They Grow Small” (mid-1840s)
This is a very early and simple famine song, which circulated in print in America by the 1850s. This version is from Carolyn Hester, a major figure in the American folk revival of the early 1960s and sometime Bob Dylan collaborator.
“Skibbereen”, Patrick Carpenter (1880)
This song refers to the County Cork village of Skibbereen, which was wiped out during the Famine. Little is known about the composer, but printed versions of the song began appearing in America in 1880, with the publication of The Irish Singer’s Own Book.
“Fields of Athenry”, Pete St. John (1972)
Although it sounds like a much older song, this was in fact written in the early 1970s, with the Troubles in Northern Ireland as a backdrop. The song references British policies during the Famine, including the importation of corn and the failed leadership of Charles Edward Trevelyan. Botany Bay, referenced in the second to last verse, was the British penal colony near Sydney, Australia. “Fields of Athenry” is a popular song at sporting events, and has been adopted as the informal anthem of the Irish national football club and the Glasgow-based Celtic F.C.