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"Poor Pat Must Emigrate"

A.W. Auner of Philadelphia was among the most prolific printers of "broadside ballads," cheaply-produced topical songs and poems that were widely available throughout the nineteenth century. "Poor Pat Must Emigrate," published by Auner sometime in mid-century, chronicles the plight of the by-then-familiar figure of the Irish immigrant. The song makes a number of references to events in Ireland that Irish immigrants would be familiar with, mentioning the famine "in forty-eight," the exploitation of tenant farmers by landlords, the heroics of Irish soldiers in service of the British Empire, and the ultimately unsuccessful struggle of "the liberator" Daniel O'Connell. However, the presence of some confusion about Irish geography (most Irish emigrants departed from Cork or Liverpool, not Dublin) as well as other references that seemingly only provide convenient rhymes (there was no Irish "St. Ruth") suggests that the song was not written by an Irishman but perhaps by Auner himself.

Fare you well poor Erin's Isle, I now must leave you for awhile;
The rents and taxes are so high I can no longer stay.
From Dublin's quay I sailed away and landed here but yesterday;
Me shoes, and breeches and shirts now are all that's in my kit
I have dropped in to tell you now the sights I have seen before I go,
Of the ups and downs in Ireland since the year of ninety-eight;
But if that Nation had its own, her noble sons might stay at home,
But since fortune has it otherwise, poor Pat must emigrate.

The divil a word I would say at all, although our wages are but small,
If they left us in our cabins, where our fathers drew their breath,
When they call upon rent-day, and the divil a cent you have to pay.
They will drive you from your house and home, to beg and starve to death
What kind of treatment, boys, is that, to give an honest Irish Pat?
To drive his family to the road to beg or starve for meat;
But I stood up with heart and hand, and sold my little spot of land;
That is the reason why I left and had to emigrate.

Such sights as that I've often seen, but I saw worse in Skibbareen,
In forty-eight (that time is no more when famine it was great,
I saw fathers, boys, and girls with rosy cheeks and silken curls
All a-missing and starving for a mouthful of food to eat.
When they died in Skibbareen, no shroud or coffins were to be seen;
But patiently reconciling themselves to their horrid fate,
They were thrown in graves by wholesale which cause many an Irish heart to wail
And caused many a boy and girl to be most glad to emigrate.

Where is the nation or the land that reared such men as Paddy's land?
Where is the man more noble than he they call poor Irish Pat?
We have fought for England's Queen and beat her foes wherever seen;
We have taken the town of Delhi if you please come tell me that,
We have pursued the Indian chief, and Nenah Sahib, that cursed thief,
Who skivered babes and mothers, and left them in their gore.
But why should we be so oppressed in the land of St. Patrick blessed.
The land from which we have the best, poor Paddy must emigrate.

There is not a son from Paddy's land but respects the memory of Dan,
Who fought and struggled hard to part the poor and plundered country
He advocated Ireland's rights, with all his strength and might,
And was but poorly recompensed for all his toil and pains.
He told us to be in no haste, and in him for to place our trust,
And he would not desert us, or leave us to our fate,
But death to him no favor showed, from the beggar to the throne;
Since they took our liberator poor Pat must emigrate.

With spirits bright and purses light, my boys we can no longer stay,
For the shamrock is immediately bound for America,
For there is bread and work, which I cannot get in Donegal,
I told the truth, by great St. Ruth, believe me what I say,
Good-night my boys, with hand and heart, all you who take Ireland's part,
I can no longer stay at home, for fear of being too late,
If ever again I see this land, I hope it will be with a Fenian band;
So God be with old Ireland, poor Pat must emigrate.

Source | "Poor Pat Must Emigrate," lyrics, (Philadelphia: A.W. Auner), available from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Poor Pat Must Emigrate: 19th Century Irish Immigration,
Creator | A.W. Auner
Item Type | Music/Song
Cite This document | A.W. Auner, “"Poor Pat Must Emigrate",” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 30, 2023,

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