"Exiled they were fated to begin a new life as aliens."

Part of the Annotated Horslips Lyrics Pages on comebackhorslips.com


Recorded On:

  1. Aliens

Source Tune:

  1. Fill, Fill A Rúin O
  2. Carrickfergus

Source Poem

The gods have taken alien shapes upon them
Wild peasants driving swine
In a strange country. Through the swarthy faces
The starry faces shine.

Under grey tattered skies they strain and reel there:
Yet cannot all disguise
The majesty of fallen gods, the beauty,
The fire beneath their eyes.

They huddle at night within low clay-built cabins;
And, to themselves unknown,
They carry with them diadem and sceptre
And move from throne to throne

A.E. (George Russell), Exiles,
(CBH is currently researching publication date)

Recordings of Fill, Fill A Rúin (After Horslips):

  1. Mary McLaughlin, Celtic Requiem, 1998

Recordings of Carrickfergus (Before Horslips):

  1. The Chieftains, The Chieftains 4, 1974

Recordings of Carrickfergus (After Horslips):

  1. Van Morrison (with the Chieftains), Irish Heartbeat, 1988

Covered By:

  1. Chris Somers, unreleased track, 2005

General Notes to Site

Exiles, now...The main tune is indeed Fill, Fill A Rúin. (Come back, come back my love)

The original Gaelic song isn't addressed to a loved one as such but to a Catholic priest who has converted to Protestantism and become a minister. I had to go back and listen because I'd totally forgotten what it was like, and sho nuff there's the third line of another tune stuck in the middle of it - Carrickfergus, as in:

"I wish I was in Carrickfergus, Only for nights in Ballygrand.
The deepest ocean I would swim over, The deepest ocean my love to find.
But the sea is wide and I can't swim over, And neither have I wings to fly,
I wish I could find me a handsome boatman, To ferry me over my love and I."

Recorded by The Clancy Brothers as far as I remember, then by many others including Van Morrison and Brian Ferry (!)

Jim Lockhart, email to site, Saturday February 24, 2007

General Notes from the CBH Guestbook:

Donnacha, Carrigfergus is the tune concealed about the person of Ghosts.
Dave McG

Donnacha, Scratch that. I'm wrong. Carrigfergus is actually Exiles and Bridge from Heart to Heart, which I guess you already knew.
Dave McG

Dave McG! I didn't know that one about Exiles!
Lee Templeton

For Dave McG, Exiles isn't based on Carrickfergus. It's another tune entirely and once again I can't for the life of me remember what it is.

It's 'Fil a run'. Or in English, 'Come back, baby (baby come back). All played with the volume knob.
Barny Drivel

That's the one, well done Barney. I remember my mother used to (try to) sing it, which would prompt my father into singing it, in order to drown her out. Which was de mammy's intention all along. How foolish are the ways of men....

OK. Fair enough. But what's the bit in the middle that's played on the whistle?
Dave McG

I'm listening to the Horslips CD version right now and I can hear how it recalls Carrigfergus very closely. I have a quote to type up from Ciaran Carson on this idea, but not enough time at the moment.

Exiles is the track that also has very strong echoes back to some of the instrumental tracks on Book of Invasions. (Remembering that the two albums were meant to be companions.)
Lee Templeton

Exchange from CBH Guestbook, Wednesday, February 21, 2007, edited to relevant portion.
Dave McG is also correct: the second tune in Exiles is Carrickfergus.

The talk of "Exiles" as mood music prompts me to write. I used to wonder about the chain of circumstances that led to me becoming a fan of Horslips, but one important link in that chain was that the first album I purchased was Aliens -- a used Outlet version of it too. At least the Outlet purchase gave me common experience with other duped fans, and it is long since been replaced by the better re-issue from Horslips themselves.

There is no doubt that the American theme of the album hit hard with me: it was a subject that I was, and still am, extremely preoccupied with. But back in early 2002, I was focused on one thing first: why was I here?

My maiden family name is uncommon enough that I instantly feel some sort of kinship with anyone possessing it. And it is always a shock to see it in print. I am so not the ancestor chart-obsessing sort and never respond to all those emails that Ancestry.com sends, but once, while waiting for a friend in a library, I was looking through one of those immigration record books that were the backbone of family tree research before the Internet and I saw my family name (it only takes a minute to find us) connected with a woman named Margaret. The single line following her full name was something like: "aged 45, departed from Queenstown, 1848, unemployed."

A cousin maybe, because she'd shake the family name with marriage, as I did. Or: a widow. And I don't need a personal family history to know why she left Queenstown, which is now Cobh, or what she found as a 45 year-old unemployed single woman in mid-nineteenth century New York. If she made it north to the family farm in New England, she only found the long, cold winters that my father still speaks of bitterly, even after decades of mild Tennessee snows.

So I agree. "Exiles" is a remarkable song from a truly significant album. It IS mood music. But for me, perhaps, an entirely different mood.

Lee Templeton, CBH Guestbook, Sunday Jun 19, 2005

First Posted: April 21, 2007
Last Revised: April 21, 2007