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Updated 12/05/2014


Aherlow Glens

The Glen of Aherlow (Irish: Gleann Eatharlaí) is a picturesque valley nestling between Slievenamuck and the Galtee Mountains in the western part of County Tipperary in Ireland. The principal village is Lisvarrinane or more commonly spelt Lisvernane with a hamlet at Rossadrehid where Aherlow creamery was located before its closure in the late 20th century. Other adjacent centers of population are the villages of Galbally on the western fringe, Kilross (on the north west front) and Bansha which commands the eastern approach. Across the northern flank of Slievenamuck lies Tipperary Town.

The tradition of Geoffrey Keating still lives on in the folklore of the Glen of Aherlow. Keating preached sermons there, receiving refuge and, according to tradition, lived in a cave for much of the time while on the run and compiling his magnum opus, Foras Feasa Ar Éirinn (c. 1634).


There is also a traditional Irish song entitled, The Glens of Aherlow which originated as a ballad written by Irish republican Charles Joseph Kickham (1828-1882). It was first printed in The Kilkenny Journal, Kilkenny, on 7 October 1857, the writer using the pseudonym "Darby Ryan, Junior".

The song is based on the true story of a young ex-soldier from the Glen of Aherlow named Patrick Sheehan who was blinded at the Siege of Sevastopol. Sheehan was later jailed in 1857 for begging in Grafton Street, Dublin, his British army pension having expired after six months.  Due to the publicity arising from this case, the British government was shamed into inquiring about Sheehan, to whom a life pension of a shilling a day was granted.


My name is Patrick Sheehan, and my years are thirty-four;
Tipperary is my native place, not far from Galtymore;
I came of honest parents, but now they're lying low;
Though' many's the pleasant days we spent in the Glen of Aherlow.

My father died; I closed his eyes, outside the cabin door;
For the landlord and the sheriff too, were there the day before,
And then my lovin' mother, and my sisters three, also,
Were forced to go with broken hearts, from the Glen of Aherlow

For three long months, in search of work, I wandered far and near;
I then went to the poorhouse to see my mother dear;
The news I heard near broke my heart, but still in all my woe,
I blessed the friends who made their graves in the Glen of Aherlow.

Bereft of home and kith and kin, with plenty all around,
I starved within my cabin, and slept upon the ground;
But cruel as my lot was, I never did hardship know,
Till I joined the English army, far away from Aherlow.

Rouse up there," cried the corporal, "Ya lazy Irish hound!
Why don't you hear the bugle, its call to arms to sound?"
I found I had been dreaming of the days long, long ago,
And I woke upon Sebastopol, and not in Aherlow

I tried to find my musket, how dark I thought the night!
O blessed God! It wasn't dark, it was the broad daylight!
And when I found that I was blind, my tears began to flow,
And I longed for even a pauper's grave in the Glen of Aherlow.

A poor neglected mendicant, I wander Dublin's streets
My nine months' pension it being out, I beg from all I meet;
As I joined my country's tyrants, my face I can never show,
Amongst my dear old neighbors in the Glen of Aherlow.

So Irish youths, dear countrymen, take heed in what I say;
For if you join the English ranks, you'll surely rue the day
And whenever you're tempted, a-soldiering to go.

Remember poor blind Sheehan from the Glen of Aherlow