Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye Arr: Tom Downes


Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye is a traditional song, sung to the same tune as “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”.  While the latter is a rousing song romanticizing war, and became popular during the American Civil War, the former is a powerful anti-war song.  It tells the story of an Irish woman who meets her former lover on the road to Athy, Co. Kildare.  He had run away from her and their child to become a soldier.  Sent to war, he was badly disfigured, losing his legs, his arms and his eyes fighting for the English in Sri Lanka.  Because of his injuries he will have to beg on the road.  Despite all this, the woman says, she is happy to see and will stay with him.

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