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  • IMRO Pays Tribute to Legendary Songwriter Pete St. John – RIP

IMRO Pays Tribute to Legendary Songwriter Pete St. John – RIP

March 12, 2022

Pete St. John is the songwriter behind some of Ireland’s best-known ballads.

After growing up in Dublin and becoming an electrician, Pete left his hometown and emigrated to Canada. From there he travelled to Alaska, Central America, the West Indies and the USA, working in various professions along the way. He became deeply involved in the peace movement and international civil rights before returning to his native city in the late 1970s.

Upon returning to Dublin, Pete found a very different city to the one he had left and began to write songs depicting the many changes he saw around him. Many of Pete’s works relate to economic and social change in Ireland, and are as valid to audiences today as they have ever been – from “The Ferryman” trying to contemplate the implications of his new-found unemployment to a Dublin native reminiscing about life in his town “In the Rare Ould Times”.

By far, Pete’s most well-known ballad is the anthemic “Fields of Athenry”, which tells the story of an Athenry man sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay, Australia during the famine for stealing food to feed his starving family. The song has been recorded by countless artists around the world, with Paddy Reilly’s version spending a massive 72 weeks in the Irish charts, one of the longest chart entries in the history of the Irish charts. The song has been adopted by sports fans and has been sung in football, rugby and boxing stadiums throughout the world in support of Irish sporting heroes.

Pete’s works have been recorded by The Dubliners, Dublin City Ramblers, The High Kings, Dropkick Murphys and many more. As well as his commercial success, Pete received awards and acknowledgements in Ireland, the UK and the USA throughout the course of his career.

A passionate advocate for creators’ rights, Pete was a founding member of IMRO. We extend our deepest sympathies to his sons Kieron and Brian, his extended family, friends and his many musical collaborators.

Farewell dear friend.

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