The Yellow Bittern

Rory Dall O’Cahain

The Yellow Bittern that never broke out on a drinking bout,he might as well have done.

For his bones are thrown on a naked stone where he lived alone like a hermit monk

Oh Yellow Bittern I pity your case, tho they say that a drunk like myself is cursed.

I was sober for a while,now I’ll drink and I’ll be wise,for fear that I might die in the end of thirst.

It is not for the common bird that I would mourn.The Blackbird,The Corncrake,The Heron or The Crane.

But for the Bittern,that shy and lonesome bird who lives in the quiet of a lone bog drain.

Oh Had I known you were so near your death, with my breath held in I’d have run to you.

‘Til a crack in the ice on your frozen water hole, would stir your heart to life anew.


Oh My darling she tells me do not drink any more or your life it will be over in a little while.

But I told her it was the drink gave me health and strength and could lengthen my road for manys the mile.

See that bird there of the long smooth neck who has got his death from the thirst at last,

Come soothe my soul,Come fill my bowl, For I’ll get no more drink when my life is past.

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Andy Rynne taught me this in the back of Mick Currans van halfway between Ffrenchypark and Tulsk when the Prosperous Brigade of The Irish Balladsingers Army were on our way to manouevers in Boyle all set to muster on the square when the poteen was taken.We captured a number of enemy wrens in Mrs Grehans hostelry whereupon we took tham to an appointed carriage at a quiet siding in Boyle station and gave them a jolly good de-briefing before bursting into an arousing version of”The night before Larry was stretched”


I sung this once against  the drone of Liam O’Flynns pipes.