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The Irish folk song "Mursheen Durkin" tells the story of an emigrant from Ireland who goes to mine for gold in California during the California Gold Rush, 1849. The song is about emigration, although atypically optimistic for the genre. The name "Muirsheen" is a good phonetic approximation to the pronunciation of "Máirtín" (Martin) in Connacht Irish; it could alternatively be construed as a diminutive of "Muiris" (Maurice). A pratie is a potato, the historical staple crop of Ireland. "America" is pronounced "Americay", as was common among Gaelic peoples around Ireland.
The air to which it is sung is "Cailíní deasa Mhuigheo" (pretty girls of Mayo), which is a popular reel dating from the 19th century.
The song reached prominence when Johnny McEvoy's recording reached no. 1 in Ireland in 1966.
It has been covered by the following artists (and others):
"Molly Durkin" is an Irish folk song made popular by Murty Rabbett in the 1940s in the United States. It is a derivation of "Mursheen Durkin". The song has a lively tempo and a man who decides to give up his work as a mortar shoveler (probably an asphalt shoveler as well) to take up shoveling gold in California is whimsically described. The song is not so much a song of leaving Ireland as it is an Irishman's response to a woman's scorn.
The Irish Rovers made several changes to the lyrics: