What is ‘Mountains o’ Mourne’ about?

“Mountains o’ Mourne”, sung by Don McLean, is a classic ballad that tells the story of a man who recalls his childhood memories of the beautiful Mountains of Mourne in Ireland. The song was first released by Don Mclean in 1971 on the album “American Pie” and has since become a staple of McLean’s discography.

Above The Silent Valley in the Mourne Mountains
‘Mountains o’ Mourne’

Who wrote Mountains O’ Mourne?

The song “Mountains of Mourne” was written by Percy French. Percy French was born in Roscommon, Ireland and was a songwriter, composer, and painter from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was best known for his humorous and satirical songs and was a popular entertainer in Ireland and Britain.

When did Percy French write the ballad ‘Mountains O’ Mourne’?

The exact date when Percy French wrote the song “Mountains of Mourne” is unknown, but it is believed to have been written in the late 19th century. Some of his other famous works include; “Abdul Abulbul Amir” and “Are Ye Right, There Michael.” He was born on May 1 1854, and died on July 24 1920.

Where are the Mountains of Mourne located?

The Mountains of Mourne, located in County Down, Northern Ireland, are a range of rugged peaks that rise dramatically from the sea. With their rugged beauty and natural splendour, the Mountains have inspired many artists and poets, and have been the subject of numerous songs and ballads.

A moving tribute

Don McLean’s rendition of “Mountains o’ Mourne” is a tribute to the area and a touching tribute to the power and beauty of the Irish landscape. The song is characterized by its haunting melody and evocative lyrics, which transport the listener to a world of misty hills, rolling green fields, and shimmering blue seas.

McLean sings of his love for the Mountains of Mourne and his longing to return to this special place in the song. The song’s chorus is particularly memorable, with its refrain of “Oh, the Mountains of Mourne, they are standing tall and free, they call to me, they call to me.” This simple yet powerful refrain can evoke strong emotions in listeners, reminding them of their memories and connections to the places they love.

Celebrating the Irish landscape and the connection to humanity and love

“Mountains o’ Mourne” by Don McLean is a timeless tribute to the beauty of the Irish landscape and a celebration of the human connection to the natural world. With its haunting melody and evocative lyrics, this song continues to captivate audiences and will undoubtedly remain a classic for generations.


Lyrics of “Mountains o’ Mourne” by Don McLean

Oh, Mary, this London’s a wonderful sight
With people here working by day and by night
They don’t sow potatoes nor barley nor wheat
But there’s gangs of them diggin’ for gold in the street
At least when I asked them, that’s what I was told
So I just took a hand at this diggin’ for gold
But for all that I’ve found there, I might as well be
In the place where the dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea

I believe that when writin’ a wish you expressed
As to how the fine ladies of London were dressed
But if you’ll believe me, when asked to a ball
They don’t wear no tops to their dresses at all
Oh, I’ve seen them myself and you could not in truth
Tell if they were bound for a ball or a bath
Don’t be startin’ them fashions now, Mary Mochree,
In the place where the dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea

There’s beautiful girls here, oh, never you mind
Beautiful shapes Nature never designed
Lovely complexions of roses and cream
But let me remark with regard to the same
That if at those roses you venture to sit
The colours might all come away on your lip
So I’ll wait for the wild rose that’s waitin’ for me
In the place where the dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea

You remember young Diddy McClaren, of course
But he’s over here with the rest of the force
I saw him one day as he stood on the strand
Stopped all the traffic with a wave of his hand
As we were talking of days that are gone
The whole town of London stood there to look on
But for all his great powers, he’s wishful like me
To be back where the dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea.