Song: The Glendalough Saint (or In Glendalough Lived a Young Saint)

The Glendalough Saint sung by Brendan Behan
℗ 2008 Arran Records
The Glendalough Saint by The Dubliners
℗ 1966 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company
Sculpture of Kevin and the Blackbird | Courtesy of Heritage Week
Sculpture of Kevin and the Blackbird
Courtesy of Heritage Week

A song made famous by the Dubliners, amongst others, this tune has many varied versions.

The writer of the song is not known, though many  sources wrongly cite The Dubliners as the writers. Below are three different versions of the lyrics and links to differing versions of the song on Youtube.

Version I

In Glendalough lived an old saint
Renowned for his learning and piety
His manners were curious and quaint
And he looked upon girls with disparity

CHORUS
Ri fol di dol, fol di dol day
Ri fol di dol, fol di dol laddy
Ri fol di dol, fol di dol day
Ri fol di dol, fol di dol laddy

But as he was fishing one day
A-catching some kind of trout, sir
Young Kathleen was walking that way
Just to see what the saint was about, sir

‘You’re a mighty fine fisher’ says Kate
’tis yourself is the boy that can hook them
But when you have caught them so nate
Don’t you want some young woman to cook them ?’
Chorus

‘Be gone out of that‘, said the saint
‘For I am a man of great piety
Me character, I wouldn’t taint
By keeping such class of society’

But Kathleen wasn’t going to give in
For when he got home to his rockery
He found her sitting therein
A-polishing all of his crockery
Chorus

He gave the poor creature a shake
Oh, I wish that the peelers had caught him
He threw her right into the lake
And of course she sank down to the bottom

It is rumoured from that very day
Kathleen’s ghost can be seen on the river
And the saint never raised up his hand
For he died of the right kind of fever
Chorus

Version II

At Glendalough lived a young saint,
In odour of sanctity dwelling,
An old-fashioned odour which now
We seldom or never are smelling.
A book or a hook were to him
The utmost extent of his wishes,
Now – a a snatch at the lives of the saints,
Then – a catch at the lives of the fishes.

Chorus – Ri fol di lol lol etc.

There was a young woman one day
Stravaging alone by the lake, sir;
She looked hard at Saint Kevin, they say,
But Saint Kevin did no notice take, sir.
When she found looking hard would not do,
She look’d in the old sheeps’-eye fashion,
But with all her sheeps’-eyes she could not
In Saint Kevin see signs of soft passion.

Chorus

‘You’re a great hand at fishing’ says Kate.
‘It’s yourself that knows how, dear, to hook them;
But when you have caught them, agra,
Don’t you want a young woman to cook them?’
Said the Saint, ‘I am serious inclined,
I intend taking orders for life, dear.’
‘Only marry,’ says Kate, ‘and you’ll find,
You’ll get orders enough from your wife, dear.’

Chorus

‘You shall never be flesh on my flesh,’
Said the Saint with an anchorite groan, sir.
‘I see that myself,’ answered Kate,
‘I can only be bone of your bone, sir.
And even your bones are so scarce,’
Said Miss Kate, at her answers so glib, sir,
‘That I think you would not be the worse
Of a little additional rib, sir’

Chorus

The Saint in a rage seiz’d the lass,
He gave her one twirl around his head, sir,
And before Doctor Arnott’s invention,
Flung Kate in a watery bed, sir.
Oh, cruel Saint Kevin, for shame!
When a lady her heart came to barter,
You should not have been Knight of the Bath,
But have bow’d to the Order of Garter

Chorus

Version III

In Glendalough lived an old saint
Renowned for learning and piety
His manners was curious and quaint
And he looked upon girls with disparity

Fol di dol fol di fol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy
Fol di dol rol di dol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy

He was fond of readin’ a book
When he could get one to his wishes
He was fond of castin’ his hook
In among the ould fishes

Fol di dol fol di fol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy
Fol di dol rol di dol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy

But one evenin’ he landed a trout
He landed a fine big trout, sir
When young Kathleen from over the way
Came to see what the ould monk was about, sir

Fol di dol fol di fol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy
Fol di dol rol di dol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy

“Oh, get out o’ me way” said the saint
For I am a man of great piety
And me good manners I wouldn’t taint
Not by mixing with female society

Fol di dol fol di fol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy
Fol di dol rol di dol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy

Oh, but Kitty she wouldn’t give in
And when he got home to his rockery
He found she was seated therein
A-polishin’ up his ould crockery

Fol di dol fol di fol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy
Fol di dol rol di dol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy

Well he gave the poor creature a shake
And I wish that the Garda had caught him
For he threw her right into the lake
And, be Jaysus, she sank to the bottom

Fol di dol fol di fol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy
Fol di dol rol di dol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy

 

Glendalough Heritage Forum does not own, and have not sought permission to use, the following video clips, we are simply providing links to them on Youtube. Please contact the owners/copyright holders if you want to use or require more details concerning any of this footage.

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