The destination for history

Did Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ come from Derrygonnelly in County Fermanagh?


‘That’s it!’ I said firmly, ‘we’ve drawn a blank. I’ll have to go streetwalking!’ George (my husband) groaned.

He hates it when I wander around streets asking what he refers to as ‘innocent strangers fool questions’ about local history. He trails me, ready to come to my defence if required.

I’d heard Van Morrison’s award-winning song, Brown Eyed Girl, was inspired by a girl from Derrygonnelly and wanted to authenticate my information.

We’d started in the Leginn Cornmill. They made good coffee but nobody knew about the ‘brown eyed girl’.

I started streetwalking, without success until I entered The Old Pal’s Bar. It was a delightful, authentic pub.

The barman smiled when asked, ‘Did Van Morrison write Brown Eyed Girl in Derrygonnelly?’ He said, ‘Yes! I’ll show you the piano he used and there’s a photo of him in the back bar. He was living with Gerald Flanaghan on Knockmore Mountain and going with a local girl at that time. She was a real beauty, so she was!’

Derrygonnelly should treasure its connection with a hit song because knowledge of the past provides a greater appreciation of the environment, deeper perspective, a sense of identity and strong roots. Without these we lose individuality and are in danger of ending up like ‘chips with everything’! That’s why I think streetwalking and recording the results is important. I just hope George’s worst fears aren’t realised!


By Doreen McBride

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