The Irish folk song "Mursheen Durkin" tells the story of an emigrant from Ireland who goes to mine for gold in California during the California Gold Rush, 1849. The song is about emigration, although atypically optimistic for the genre. The name "Muirsheen" is a good phonetic approximation to the pronunciation of "Máirtín" (Martin) in Connacht Irish; it could alternatively be construed as a diminutive of "Muiris" (Maurice). A pratie is a potato, the historical staple crop of Ireland. "America" is pronounced "Americay", as was common among Gaelic peoples around Ireland
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The song reached prominence when Johnny McEvoy's recording reached no. 1 in Ireland in 1966.
It has been covered by the following artists (and others):
- Christy Moore
- Sharon Shannon
- Four to the Bar on their live album Craic on the Road.
- The Pogues
- The Irish Rovers (both as "Muirsheen Durkin" and as "Goodbye Mrs. Durkin")
- Johnny McEvoy
- The Dubliners
- The Poxy Boggards
- Golden Bough
- The Mollys on their album Hat Trick
- Off Kilter on their album Celtic Armadillo
- Darby O'Gill
- The Wolfe Tones
- 1916 on their album Last Call for Heroes
- Na Fianna
"Molly Durkin" is an Irish folk song made popular by Murty Rabbett in the 1940s in the United States. It is a derivation of "Mursheen Durkin". The song has a lively tempo and a man who decides to give up his work as a mortar shoveler (probably an asphalt shoveler as well) to take up shoveling gold in California is whimsically described. The song is not so much a song of leaving Ireland as it is an Irishman's response to a woman's scorn.
The Irish Rovers made several changes to the lyrics:
- Retitled to "Goodbye Mrs. Durkin"
- "I was never tired resortin'"
- "and the other house besides", suggesting a "house of ill repute"
- "as sure as my name is Barney"
- "I'll write you from New York", which fits the meter better
- Includes some lyrics contained in the song "Molly Durkin"
- Murty Rabbett & His Gaelic Band: "Farewell To Ireland" Properbox 3(P1109-12) (1999/2005)
- Ballinasloe Fair-Early Recordings Of Irish Music In America Traditional Crossroads CD 4284, CD (1998/2005)
- Sean McMahon, A Little Bit of Heaven
- Jonathan Baron, "A Narrow Sea – Episode 59 – The Hamely Tongue", BBC.co.uk
- Colm Ó Lochlainn, More Irish Street Ballads, Dublin, 1965. p. 72
- "Johnny McEveoy". Arts. County Kildare Community Network. February 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
- Folk Index
- Lyrics from The American Songbook, by Jerry Silverman