Along the Famine Road

(c) 1999 Brian W. Flynn

        During the Great Famine (mid-1800s), Ireland's common people were forced to build roads that were never intended for travel. These roads, many located in the rural west, started in isolated areas and ended nowhere. An estimated 500,000 men, women, and children were forced to build them in exchange for food.

        The Burren is a unique area of County Clare. It is rich with stark beauty and contains ancient and pre-Christian ruins, as well as one of the Famine Roads. It took me several years to find this road but when I did, it had a profound impact on me. It looked like it had been built yesterday, each stone in its place where it was set more than a century and a half before.
        - Brian W. Flynn

Rock by rock and stone by stone I walked along the famine road
Through the limestone of the Burren at the foot of Mullaghmór
And I had a silent revelation as I walked this lonely strand
That every stone upon this road was touched by hungry hands

In my mind I see their black coats turned against the wind and rain
I hear their cries of desperation, the anger and the shame
To watch their children die of hunger, to be driven from the land
And I hear their prayers that went unanswered to feed these hungry hands

In spite of rain and hunger they broke and laid these stones
Somewhere deep inside they found the strength to carry on
And I'm sure they never realized, it was never in the plan
But they held the spirit of a nation safe in hungry hands

Now they say this road leads nowhere, but I'm sure it never ends
It took their children round the world to strange and distant lands
And we who are their children's children in our hearts we understand
That very road we've ever walked was built by hungry hands.

Rock by rock, stone by stone I walked along the famine road
Through the limestone of the Burren at the foot of Mullaghmór
And we who are this island's children in our hearts we understand
That very road we've ever walked was built by hungry hands.

Yes, every road I've ever walked was built by hungry hands.

Along the Famine Road is recorded on the CD Then and Now
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