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This Irish folk ballad was written by singer-songwriter Pete St. John in the mid 1970s. Because of its style and its setting during the 1845-50 Irish Potato Famine, many have mistakenly believed that this is a traditional song. However St. John said on his website that "even though it is written in that traditional style it is a modern composition by myself, both lyrics and music."
St. John explained on his website that Athenry is "in Galway and if you do happen to get the chance to visit, you will notice the 'Low lying fields' as you approach this beautiful town."
The song first became a Top 10 hit in Ireland in 1979 for folk singer Danny Doyle. Four years later another folk singer Paddy Reilly covered the song. His version peaked at #4 in the Irish charts, remaining for 72 weeks. Other artists to cover include James Galway, The Dubliners, The Dropkick Murphys and The Durutti Column.
This song has been adopted by supporters of the Ireland national football team and Celtic FC and also by fans of various Irish rugby teams.
In 2009 an adaptation of the song, "The Fields of Anfield Road," was made by a collection of Liverpool musicians and supporters, credited as the Liverpool Collective featuring the Kop Choir. The song was recorded to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster in which 96 supporters of Liverpool FC were crushed to death at a FA Cup semi-final. It featured vocal contributions by former Livepool FC players Bruce Grobbelaar and Phil Thompson. John Power, formerly of the La's and Cast penned a new third verse, which referenced the disaster itself. This version reached the Top 20 of the UK singles chart.
Among the films this song has featured in are Veronica Guerin, Priest and Dead Poets Society. In the latter film the song is an anachronism, as the movie is set in 1959, fifteen years before the song was written.
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