It is 4 Days Until Christmas ~ Four Green Fields … Tommy Makem wrote more than 400 songs, the anthem, Four Green Fields, of course, as well as Gentle Annie, Winds of Morning, The Winds Are Singing Freedom and so many other iconic songs, songs that are sung where ever the Irish gather around the world. I grew up with them, I fell in love with them; They are the stories of our people.
Our stories define us; the Irish culture is such a story-driven one, with an oral tradition passed on generation to generation. We pass the stories on so our roots, our history, our very identity stays vibrant and alive – it is our connection to our past, AND our present.
In these writings of Christmas, all my writings, my story is not the only one I am trying to tell. Tommy wrote Four Green Fields one day while driving down to Newry, in the Co. Down. It was 1967. He saw a woman coming down from the fields with the cows, to cross the road. They were both stopped at a British checkpoint. Tommy watched her as he, and she, waited to go thru. He could see the, Hassle, as the woman just wanted to get on across the road, to get on with her life. He wrote the first two verses then, and the final one later, when he got to Newry.
The Four Green Fields symbolically refer to the 4 Provinces of Ireland: Leinster, Munster, Ulster & Connaught, which hold the 32 counties, closest to our States, here in the U.S. The “fine, old woman” represents Ireland herself.
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, they fought to save my jewels
They fought and 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 have sons, as brave as were their fathers
And my four green fields, will bloom once again, said she
Yes my four green Field, will bloom once again, said she.
In this time of birth, and rebirth, the beginning of new eras and new days, that dream of one country is not over. One Ireland is closer now than it has been in more than 800 years.
“Do not worry if you have built castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them”.
– Henry David Thoreau
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