The Creggan White Hare

In the lowland of Creggan, there lives a white hare,
As swift as the swallow that flies through that air.
You may tramp the world over but none can compare
With the pride of low Creggan, the bonnie white hare.

One clean autumn morning, as you may suppose,
The red golden sun o’er the green mountain rose.
Barney Conway came down and he did declare,
“This day I’ll put an end to that bonnie white hare.”

He searched through the lowlands and down through the glens,
And among the wild bushes where the white hare had ends,
Till at last coming home o’er the heather so bare,
From behind a wild thistle jumped out the white hare.

“Bang! bang!” went his gun and his dog it slipped too.
As swift as the wind over the green mountain flew.
But the dog soon came back, which made poor Barney sigh,
For he knew that the white hare had bid him goodbye.

We’re some jolly sportsmen down here from Pomeroy
From Cookstown, Dungannon, and likewise the Moy.
With our pedigree greyhounds we’ve travelled afar
And we’ve come down to Creggan in our fine motor car.

Away to the lowlands these huntsmen did go
In search of the white hare they look high and low,
Till at last Barney Conway on a bog bank so bare
Shouted out to these huntsmen, “There lies the white hare.”

They call up their greyhounds from off the green lea
And Barney and the huntsmen they jumped high with glee,
For there on the turf bank all gathered around,
Seven dogs and nine men did that poor hare surround.

No wonder the white hare did tremble with fear
As she stood on her toes and would raise her big ears,
But she stood on her toes and with one gallant spring,
She cleared over the greyhounds and broke through the ring.

Well the chase I went on, ’twas beautiful view
As swift as the wind o’er the green mountains flew.
But with pedigree greyhounds, they didn’t go far.
They come back and went home in their motor car.

There come another man and you all know him well;
His name is Pat Devlin and Bonnie Black Nell.
In search of the white hare, he says, “I’ll have fun.
Here’s fifty to one that Black Nell does her turn.”

Five turns the hare got then from Bonnie Black Nell,
And the sixth one was given around John Haughey’s well.
‘Twas there we lost sight of the hare and the dog,
And ten minutes later they come o’er the bog.

Well, the chase it went on. It was great for to see.
The white hare and the greyhound they roamed light and free,
Till she travelled to Esker where she knew the lands well,
And to Bonnie Black Nell she soon bid farewell.

And now to conclude and finish it’s time.
I hope you’ll forgive me for singing this rhyme.
If there’s any amongst you in Carrick more fair,
Let’s drink up a health to that bonnie white hare.


“The Creggan White Hare” is a fairly modern ballad that Irvine learned from the singing of Vincent Donnelly from Castle Caulfield, Co. Tyrone, on an old BBC disc recorded in 1952 by Sean O’Boyle and Peter Kennedy. It relates the hunting of hares with greyhounds, a popular pastime in many rural areas in Ireland. However, “the white hare of Low Creggan was too smart for them all”.

The “Creggan White Hare” is an Irish folk song. It was first recorded by Paddy Tunney in 1944.

This particular song may actually refer to Cregan in Co. Tyrone, as Cookstown, Dungannon and The Moy are all in Tyrone, however there is a place called Creggan (two g’s) in Co. Armagh.


One comment

  1. The much misquoted ‘Esker’ is actually Eskra, a townland not that far from Creggan Co. Tyrone. Although it’s a little bit whimsical that a hare would run that far! Given the proximity of Carrickmore, Pomeroy and Cookstown to Creggan, it’s unlikely the song/poem relates to the similarly named town in Armagh. Both have 2 ‘g’s.

    Liked by 1 person

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