The Valley of Knockanure

The tragic ballad commemorating an atrocity during the War of Independence at Gortaglanna near Knockanure. Gabriel Fitzmaurice recently published a book, The World of Bryan McMahon, in which he wrote an essay describing the events surrounding the atrocity, the various ballads written about the incident, and clearing up once for all the authorship of the original “The Valley of Knockanure”.
Click here to read the essay.

Peggy Sweeney recorded a wonderful version of the song on her video – Kerry, a Kingdom in Song.

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In memory of Jeremiah Lyons, Patrick Dalton and Patrick Walsh, murdered by Crown Forces
at Gortagleanna, Co. Kerry on 12th May, 1921.

You may sing and speak about Easter Week or the heroes of Ninety-Eight,
Of the Fenian men who roamed the glen in victory or defeat,
Their names are placed on history’s page, their memory will endure,
Not a song is sung for our darling sons in the Valley of Knockanure.

Our hero boys they were bold and true, no counsel would they take,
They rambled to a lonely spot where the Black and Tans did wait,
The Republic bold they did uphold though outlawed on the moor,
And side by side they bravely died in the Valley of Knockanure.

There was Walsh and Lyons and Dalton, boys, they were young and in their pride,
In every house in every town they were always side by side,
The Republic bold they did uphold though outlawed on the moor,
And side by side they bravely died in the Valley of Knockanure.

In Gortagleanna’s lovely glen, three gallant men took shade,
While in young wheat, full, soft and sweet the summer breezes played,
But ’twas not long till Lyons came on, saying “Time’s not mine nor your”,
But alas ’twas late and they met their fate in the Valley of Knockanure.

They took them then beside a fence to where the furze did bloom,
Like brothers so they faced the foe for to meet their dreadful doom,
When Dalton spoke his voice it broke with a passion proud and pure,
“For our land we die as we face the sky in the Valley of Knockanure.”

‘Twas on a neighbouring hillside we listened in calm dismay,
In every house in every town a maiden knelt to pray,
They’re closing in around them now with rifle fire so sure,
And Dalton’s dead and Lyons is down in the Valley of Knockanure.

But ere the guns could seal his fate Con Dee had broken through,
With a prayer to God he spurned the sod and against the hill he flew,
The bullets tore his flesh in two, yet he cried with passion pure,
“For my comrades’ death, revenge I’ll get, in the Valley of Knockanure.”

There they lay on the hillside clay for the love of Ireland’s cause,
Where the cowardly clan of the Black and Tan had showed them England’s laws,
No more they’ll feel the soft winds steal o’er uplands fair and sure,
For side by side our heroes died in the Valley of Knockanure.

I met with Dalton’s mother and she to me did say,
“May God have mercy on his soul who fell in the glen today,
Could I but kiss his cold, cold lips, my aching heart ‘twould cure,
And I’d gladly lay him down to rest in the Valley of Knockanure.”

The golden sun is setting now behind the Feale and Lee,
The pale, pale moon is rising far out beyond Tralee,
The dismal stars and clouds afar are darkened o’er the moor,
And the banshee cried where our heroes died in the Valley of Knockanure.

Oh, Walsh and Lyons and Dalton brave, although your hearts are clay,
Yet in your stead we have true men yet to guard the gap today,
While grass is found on Ireland’s ground your memory will endure,
So God guard and keep the place you sleep and the Valley of Knockanure.

Steps from roadway into field where monument stands

On the 12th of May 1921, a troop of ‘Black and Tans’ were travelling out from Listowel towards Athea when they arrested 3 young men in Gortaglanna, Knockanure. Prior to this the barracks in Listowel had been burnt-out and the troops, heavy with drink and bent on seeking revenge decided to execute the young men. One of the men, Dalton, attempted to free himself from captivity but was thwarted in his efforts by a bullet. Both of the other 2 men were shot on the spot. Today a memorial stands by the roadside where those 3 friends died on that fateful day during Ireland’s fight for Independence.

J. Lyons
P. Walsh
P. Dalton