"The Rocks of Bawn" (Rocks of White) talks about Oliver Cromwell's invasion of Ireland in 1649 and the treatment of the Roman Catholics: In 1652, Oliver Cromwell "subdued" Ireland, a process that often recurred in history before and since. Many Catholic landholders were dispossessed and forced to take their families and belongings beyond the Shannon, to the hard country of Connaught. While English and Scottish Protestant newcomers settled on the lusher vacated farms, the dispossessed Irish hacked out a thin living among the "rocks, bogs, salt water and seaweed" of the barren west coast. In the ensuing centuries, to many a farm-hand even the British Army offerred better prospects than the stony plough-defying soil of Mayo, Galway and Clare. The lament of the Connaught ploughman has become one of the most popular of all Irish folk songs, seemingly within the last few years.
Scholars feel that "Rocks of White is not a good transaltion". In Irish the presence of "of" between Rocks and White denotes the genitive 9 (n tuiseal ginideach). This indicates that both Rocks and White are nouns.
In Cavan it is asserted that the Rocks of Bawn refers to the poor soil (impossible to plough) in west cavan, adjacent to the town of Bawnboy (An Babhún Buí - the yellow earth enclosure - that the earth enclosure is referred to as a Babhún rather than a Lios or Rath indicates that it was enclosure made up during the Elizabethan plantation of Ulster).
Although originally written for traditional folk instruments, I created this arrangement for Concert (Pedal) Harp and Bb Clarinet and it is best played using the "GeneralUser GS.sf2" Soundfont by S. Christian Collins Software (http://www.schristiancollins.com/generaluser.php).