Kitty of Coleraine

Coleraine is a town some 30 miles East of Londonderry and 55 miles Northwest of Belfast. The name comes from the Irish term ‘Cúil Rathain’ which means ‘nook of the ferns’. 

kitty of coleraine song lyrics
Kitty of Coleraine

The town is only a couple  of miles inland from the stunning North coast (Causeway Coast).  Poets in the past have been inspired by this coast.  The River Bann runs through Coleraine, meaning part of the town is in County Derry and part in County Antrim. The town has two bridges which cross the river.

Kitty of Coleraine

Nobody knows for sure who wrote Kitty of Coleraine.  The author is usually listed as ‘anonymous’.  But given the time of it’s publication, the wry humour and wit of Kitty’s story, many suspect that it was written by Edward Lysaght.  Lysaght was a barrister who lived between 1763 and 1810.  The County Clare man was famous for his wit, as was known to write a few humourous songs. 

UPDATE: On delving through old newspapers, I discovered this fascinating article in the Coleraine Chronicle from 12th March 1887. A reader of the newspaper writes in, to confirm that Edward Lysaght composed Kitty of Coleraine.

The correspondent wrote to the newspaper’s ‘Notes & Queries’ section, saying: “The author of this charming song (Kitty of Coleraine) was Edward Lysaght, born in County Clare in 1768, died 1810.

He was a Protestant, educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and at Oxford (where he graduated M.A. In 1784), was successively called to the English and Irish bars, and, after practising as a barrister, was appointed a divisional police magistrate of Dublin in the year before his death.

In addition to ‘Kitty of Coleraine’ he wrote The Sprig of Shillelagh,’ and the song addressed to Henry Grattan, ‘The Gallant Man who led the Van of the Irish Volunteers.’

He was a determined opponent of the Act of Union.

Mr Owen Madden, in big ‘ Revelations of Ireland,’ says Lysaght, ‘in his personal character, was a thorough Irishman—brave, brilliant, witty, eloquent, and devil-may care.”


Kitty of Coleraine Lyrics

As beautiful Kitty one morning was tripping,

With a pitcher of milk from the fair of Coleraine,

When she saw him she stumbled, the pitcher it tumbled,

And all the sweet buttermilk watered the plain.

Oh! What shall I do now, ’twas looking at you now,

Sure, sure, such a pitcher I’ll ne’er meet again.

‘Twas the pride of my dairy, Oh, Barney McCleary,

You’re sent as a plague on the girls of Coleraine.

He sat down beside her and gently did chide her,

That such a misfortune should give her such pain.

A kiss then he gave her, and before he did leave her,

She vowed for such pleasure, she’d break it again.

‘Twas haymaking season, I can’t tell the reason,

Misfortune will never come single ’tis plain,

For very soon after poor Kitty’s disaster,

The devil a pitcher was whole in Coleraine.


"I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

5 thoughts on “Kitty of Coleraine

  1. very interesting about Kitty of Coleraine and edward lysaght the barrister and song writer. Bing sang the song to get out of jail in Going my Way . It was also the name of the first cruise boat on the Bann a river steamboat which took the first tourists through Cutts Lock after it was built in the late 1880s.

  2. Hi Derek. Yes, a very interesting song. I didn’t know much about it until doing the rsearch last year.

    Thanks for that info regarding the Kitty of Coleraine being the name of the first cruise boat on the Bann in the late 1880s. I must update and add that to this page.

    There are so many stories to be written of local talent and songs. I have a couple of articles – unfinished as yet – on Jimmy Kennedy (Red Sails in the Sunset); and David McWilliams – Days of Pearly Spencer.

  3. 🙈 I don’t understand the last verse about the devil ect. What’s it supposed to mean
    Frau Haase. Germany

  4. Thanks for your comment on Kitty. The last line goes “The devil a pitcher was whole in Coleraine” In other words I’ll be damned if you find another pitcher not broken in Coleraine. Hope this is correct but it’s my reading of the quite oft used expression! Good luck with the singing of it . Derek

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