40 Shades of Green in the Irish Countryside

40 Shades of Green

40 Shades of Green in the Irish Countryside near Lissycasey, County Clare.

Through the looking glass, in search of the yellow brick road in the green rolling hills and dales between Lissycasey and Lanna in Ireland’s County Clare… I’ve experienced the wonder of the fresh and magical colors of the Irish countryside.

Especially at Springtime, the Emerald Isle lives up to its nickname as the countryside bursts into the oft-touted “40 Shades of Green,” a phrase popularized in song by country singer Johnny Cash.

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While the words had been used to describe the lush Irish countryside many years before Cash wrote his song after a visit to Ireland in 1959, one story says he began composing the tune while at Vee Pass on Knockmealdown Mountain in South Tipperary.

The song subsequently was released in 1961 as a B-side of “The Rebel-Johnny Yuma” (from the days of 45 rpm vinyl records which had two songs — the A side and the B side). Anyone remember those?

It also was featured on the album, “Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash” released in 1963 and on “Johnny Cash: The Great Lost Performance – Live at the Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park, New Jersey” recorded live in 1990 and released posthumously in 2007.

Here’s a video from his 1990 performance:

Cash died in 2003, but the song lives on and has been covered by many other singers, including Ireland’s own Daniel O’Donnell.

Here are the lyrics of Forty Shades of Green:

I close my eyes and picture

The emerald of the sea

From the fishing boats at Dingle

To the shores of Donaghadee
.

I miss the river Shannon

And the folks at Skibbereen

The moorlands and the meadows

With their forty shades of green.


But most of all I miss a girl

In Tipperary town

And most of all I miss her lips

As soft as eiderdown
.

Again I want to see and do

The things we’ve done and seen

Where the breeze is sweet as Shalimar

And there’s forty shades of green.

I wish that I could spend an hour

At Dublin’s churning surf

I’d love to watch the farmers

Drain the bogs and spade the turf
.

To see again the thatching

Of the straw the women glean

I’d walk from Cork to Larne to see

The forty shades of green
.

But most of all I miss a girl

In Tipperary town

And most of all I miss her lips

As soft as eiderdown
.

Again I want to see and do

The things we’ve done and seen

Where the breeze is sweet as Shalimar

And there’s forty shades of green.

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