Isle of Innisfree
The Isle of Innisfree is a song composed by Dick Farrelly
Dick Farrelly
Dick Farrelly born Richard Farrelly was an Irish songwriter, policeman and poet, composer of "The Isle of Innisfree", the song for which he is best remembered. His parents were publicans and when Dick was twenty-three he left Kells, County Meath for Dublin to join the Irish Police Force...

 (Irish songwriter, policeman and poet), born Richard Farrelly, who wrote both the music and lyrics. Dick got the inspiration for "Isle of Innisfree", the song for which he is best remembered, while on a bus journey from his native Kells, County Meath
Kells, County Meath
Kells is a town in County Meath, Ireland. The town lies off the M3 motorway, from Navan and from Dublin. In recent years Kells has grown greatly with many Dublin commuters moving to the town....

 to Dublin. The song was published in 1950 by The Peter Maurice Music Publishing Co., now part of the EMI group.

Farrelly’s "Isle of Innisfree" is a beautiful haunting melody with lyrics expressing the longing of an Irish emigrant for his native land. When film director John Ford
John Ford
John Ford was an American film director. He was famous for both his westerns such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as The Grapes of Wrath...

 heard the song, he loved it so much that he chose it as the principal theme of his film, "The Quiet Man
The Quiet Man
The Quiet Man is a 1952 American Technicolor romantic comedy-drama film. It was directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Victor McLaglen and Barry Fitzgerald. It was based on a 1933 Saturday Evening Post short story by Maurice Walsh...

" - Quote from, Picture The Quiet Man, by Des MacHale, Appletree Press, 2004. The composition received no mention in the screen credits. "The Isle of Innisfree" became a worldwide hit for Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby
Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby was an American singer and actor. Crosby's trademark bass-baritone voice made him one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century, with over half a billion records in circulation....

 in 1952 and continues to enrich the repertoires of many artists; it endures in the hearts of many as one of the great songs of Ireland.

There is a common misconception that the song and the famous poem by W. B. Yeats, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" were written about the same place. However, while Yeats' Innisfree was an uninhabited island in Sligo's Lough Gill
Lough Gill
Lough Gill is a freshwater lough mainly situated in County Sligo, but partly in County Leitrim, in Ireland. It is about 8 km or 5 miles long and 2 km or 1 mile wide, and drains into the River Garavogue near Sligo Town. The picturesque lake is surrounded by wooded hills and is popular with...

, Farrelly's Innisfree represented all of Ireland.
  • Extract from Peter Murphy's interview with Dick Farrelly in July 1990 on RTE
    RTÉ is the abbreviation for Raidió Teilifís Éireann, the public broadcasting service of the Republic of Ireland.RTE may also refer to:* Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, 25th Prime Minister of Turkey...

     (Ireland's National Broadcasting Station)

"The "Isle of Innisfree" that was in my mind was Ireland, another name for Ireland, and that's something people often get mixed up".
  • Quote from, The Sunday Independent, 28th December 1952.

..."For me, 'The Isle of Innisfree' is simply Ireland, and it was Ireland I had in mind when I wrote this song about an exile's longing for home. The whole song, words and music, was composed in half an hour on that bus. I know that by the time I got to Dublin I had my song, the complete words and music... "Of course, it's not as easy as all that, and sometimes, for instance, I have waited for weeks to get the last line of a song".


"Isle of Innisfree" is the principal musical theme of the film, The Quiet Man
The Quiet Man
The Quiet Man is a 1952 American Technicolor romantic comedy-drama film. It was directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Victor McLaglen and Barry Fitzgerald. It was based on a 1933 Saturday Evening Post short story by Maurice Walsh...

 (1952). It is used in Steven Spielberg's film E.T.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 American science fiction film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Melissa Mathison and starring Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, and Peter Coyote...

 (1982) when the famous kissing scene between John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man is featured. The melody is also included in the soundtracks of the films, Distant Voices, Still Lives
Distant Voices, Still Lives
Distant Voices, Still Lives is a 1988 British film directed and written by Terence Davies. It evokes working-class family life in Liverpool during the 1940s and early 1950s, paying particular attention to the role of popular music, Hollywood cinema, light entertainment, and the public house within...

 (1988) and Breakfast on Pluto
Breakfast on Pluto
Breakfast on Pluto is a 1998 novel by Patrick McCabe. The book was shortlisted for the 1998 Booker Prize, and was adapted for the screen by McCabe and Neil Jordan; Jordan directed the 2005 film.-Plot summary:...



The song was also featured in the RTÉ Radio Arts Programme, "Rattlebag", as one of the top 75 Irish songs of all time in a series entitled, "The Story Behind The Songs". Des MacHale (writer and mathematician) and Dick Farrelly's son Gerard (musician) were contributors on the programme. There is also a BBC Northern Ireland
BBC Northern Ireland
BBC Northern Ireland is the main public service broadcaster in Northern Ireland.The organisation is one of the three national regions of the BBC, together with BBC Scotland and BBC Wales. Based at Broadcasting House, Belfast, it provides television, radio, online and interactive television content...

 television series, "Brian Kennedy on Song", in which "Isle of Innisfree" is featured and discussed.

There is a fascinating and in-depth chapter on "Richard Farrelly and The Isle of Innisfree" in the book, "Picture The Quiet Man", by Professor Des MacHale
Des MacHale
Desmond "Des" MacHale is an associate professor of Mathematics at University College Cork, Ireland. He is a prolific author on various subjects, most notably humour...

, published by Appletree Press.
  • Excerpt from the book, "Picture The Quiet Man", by Des MacHale

"It is one of the finest and most beautiful melodies ever written, ranking in the opinion of many, right beside Danny Boy and no greater praise is possible. But its appeal is also timeless and international, expressing as it does the trauma of separation from one's birthplace and the extasy of returning to the physical soil from which one is sprung... But it is the sheer unanswerable beauty of the melody of Richard Farrelly's The Isle of Innisfree that makes the greatest impact and dwells so deeply in the memory. Here is music dripping with emotion, lush texture, brimming with nostalgia, and fitting so perfectly into the action of The Quiet Man that it could have been written with the movie in mind. No wonder John Ford jumped on it and named the village of Innisfree in its honour".


"Isle of Innisfree" has been recorded by hundreds of artists worldwide - most notably: Finbar Wright of The Irish Tenors,"The Quiet Man" Soundtrack CD - (featuring The Dublin Screen Orchestra), Celtic Woman, Tommy Fleming, Bing Crosby, Sinead Stone & Gerard Farrelly - (Legacy of a Quiet Man
Legacy of a Quiet Man
Legacy of a Quiet Man is a music album by Irish singer Sinead Stone and musician Gerard Farrelly. The album was released in 2001 on the Seolta Records label and is a collection of songs written by Gerard’s father Dick Farrelly...

 CD), RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Val Doonican, Sean Tyrell, The Cafe Orchestra, Phil Coulter, Joe Loss, Anne Shelton, Vera Lynn
Vera Lynn
Dame Vera Lynn, DBE is an English singer-songwriter and actress whose musical recordings and performances were enormously popular during World War II. During the war she toured Egypt, India and Burma, giving outdoor concerts for the troops...

, Connie Francis, Eamonn Cambell, Norrie Paramor & His Orchestra, James McNally, Finbar Furey, Paddy Reilly, Frank Patterson, Daniel O’Donnell, Diarmuid O’Leary & The Bards, Joseph Locke, Vera Lynn, Charlie Landsborough, Geraldo & His Orchestra, Bridie Gallagher, James Galway, John McNally, Jimmy Young, Victor Young & His Singing Strings, Carmel Quinn, The Irish Tenors, Dublin City Ramblers, Tony Kenny, Alec Finn, Victor Sylvester, Brian Kennedy and Sean Dunphy to mention but a few.

Alberto Fernando Riccardo Semprini known by his stage name Alberto Semprini, or Semprini, was an English pianist, famous for appearances on the BBC, mainly on radio....

, piano with rhythm accompaniment recorded it as the third song of the medley "Dancing to the piano (No. 18) - Part 1" along with "Here in My Heart
Here in My Heart
"Here in My Heart" is a popular song, written by Pat Genaro, Lou Levinson, and Bill Borrelli, and published in 1952.A recording of the song by Al Martino was a #1 hit single on the United States pop chart. The Martino version also made history as the first number one on the UK Singles Chart, on 14...

" and "Half as Much
Half as Much
"Half as Much" is an American pop standard written by Curley Williams in 1951. It was first recorded by country music singer Hank Williams in 1952 and reached #2 on the Billboard Country Singles chart. The same year, Rosemary Clooney recorded a hit version for Top 40 markets and Alma Cogan in the...

". It was released by EMI
The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

 on the His Master's Voice label as catalog number B 10394.


The "Isle of Innisfree" and "Seolta Bána" both Dick Farrelly compositions, were performed by Sinead Stone & Gerard Farrelly (Dick Farrelly's son) for Irish Actress Maureen O'Hara at her induction into the Irish America Hall of Fame at the JFK Heritage Centre in New Ross, County Wexford, July 2011.

External links

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