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Dunkineely Fair.

Come all you cattle dealers, come listen for a while
I’ll sing you all a verse or two that will cause you all to smile.
It’s about young Monty Valentine, a smuggler I declare
And he bought two polly heifers down in Dunkineely fair.
He combed them up; and brushed them down in the corner yard
And on the journey up the street, he rushed them very hard.
They jumped upon the sidewalk with their heads up in the air
Says Monty two of the best wee fits in Dunkineely fair.
It was scarce a moment when its up comes Hughie Strand
Says Hughie, what will you take for them says Monty, £30
Says Hughie; you’ll take £26, a robbery I declare
But I want two more to fill a wagon, leaving Dunkineely fair.
It is no good says Valentine but I’ll tell you what I’ll do
John Brimstone knows the price of them and you can ask him too
I’ll take a pound of profit and its be my soul I swear
I got bad luck from £28 at Dunkineely fair.
Joe Moss and Maurice Leonard, they were quickly on the scene
And as for Pa Maguire, he came from the cattle green
Joe Moss he starts dividing, saying a pounds not here nor there
We’ll sell them where we buy them down in Dunkineely fair.
When the cattle found Joe Moss around, they began to shake with fear
Says one onto the other; it’s time we weren’t here
They headed for the mountain and the road they didn’t spare
‘Till they were 5 miles away from Dunkineely fair.
It is a mystery says Valentine, where did the cattle go
It will be alright says Maurice Leonard, if they go out by Croagh
We’ll wire up to the Yodeller and he’ll get them if they’re there
And he’ll keep them safe and sound for us till next Mountcharles fair.
Next morning it was beautiful, young Byrne got on the wave
He sang the Boston Burglar, the Spinning Wheel and Galway Bay
He’d scarcely walked two miles along when quietly grazing there
Was Monty’s two wee pollys lost from Dunkineely fair
It was just but one week after to Mountcharles he did go
Where Monty saw the cattle there, right early on the show
He handed Byrne two single pounds and Byrne he took the pair
Saying I wish to God you had lost them all from Dunkineely fair.

This song was written by Packy Manus Byrne, a native of Donegal who spent some years about Lettercran working with William Leonard a notable local cattle dealer. Packy did a bit of smuggling by his own admission and knew all the local cattle dealers mentioned in the song. His life and times have been chronicled in a book ‘Recollections of a Donegal man – Packy Manus Byrne’ compiled and edited by Stephen Jones.


John Cunningham

John Cunningham is a local historian from Belleek, Co. Fermanagh. He has written and compiled a number of history books on Fermanagh, Donegal and the north west of Ireland.

John also runs Erne Heritage Tours, providing history tours for groups large and small around Fermanagh and the north west of Ireland.

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