“Noreen Bawn” remembered as emigration returns

For many years the tale of emigration and the loss families suffered was recounted in the famous song “Noreen Bawn”.

For many years the tale of emigration and the loss families suffered was recounted in the famous song “Noreen Bawn”.

Now the people of Creeslough are preparing this weekend to pay tribute to the young woman who inspired the song penned by Niall Mac Giolla Bhride in the early part of the century.

The story is as relevant today as it was 100-years-ago, and this Sunday at 3pm a special commemoration will be held at Doe Cemetery in Creeslough.

This is where the original “Noreen Bawn”, the late Bridget Gallagher who died at 23-years-of-age after she returned from America in 1927, is laid to rest

Her oldest living relative, Grace Diver, will unveil a plaque at the graveyard entrance and one next to the family plot where Bridget is buried alongside her parents.

There will be a blessing by local clergy and following a rendition of the famous song by Roger Murray, everyone is invited to visit the original house of “Noreen”, the old Gallagher single room family home in the town land of Oughdarragh, nearby.

The fictitious ‘Noreen Bawn’ name was given to the song as the tale was one experienced by families all over Ireland in this era.

In recent weeks groups of locals have been busy renovating and preparing the “single end” house for the commemoration.

They have re-laid the road, painted the house and erected a plaque detailing the home’s significance.

A tree will be planted in her honour and people will be treated to a re-enactment of Bridget’s return homein the traditional style of the time.

Speaking at the quaint one-room house on Tuesday night, Grace Diver said it is important to remember the famous song at this time, when so many are experiencing the effects of emigration.

“When we were growing up we didn’t know that much about it, but we knew of the story in the song. This event should be lovely and I can’t believe how well the little house looks now, because for many years it was used to keep a horse in. I know that when Bridget died, her mother (Sarah) left he house and movde in with her sister Annie. Now we have emigration again and I think in some ways it is possibly worse than then,” Grace stated.

There will be more music in at the house, which is complete with some of its original furniture and fire place settings.

The song and the story of Noreen has been kept alive since it was penned by Mac Giolla Bhride, a local poet from Feymore. He was famously was taken to court in 1903 and represented Padraig Pearse for having his cart registration in Gaelic. The recently deceased international singing star, Bridie Gallagher from Ards, recorded the song and modern artists like Jimmy Buckley and Daniel O’Donnell have also performed it live for many years.

Its famous last line: “When you think of emigration, think of poor young Noreen Bawn” has struck a cord with Irish ex-pats the world over for many years.

Everyone is welcome to attend this Sunday’s event.

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