A Small Collection Of '98 Songs

Bagenal Harvey's Farewell - Betsy Gray - Boolavogue - The Boys of Wexford - Na Buachailli Bana (The Whiteboys) - The Croppy Boy - Dunlavin Green - Edward - Father Murphy - General Munroe - De Groves of De Pool - Henry Joy - Kelly of Killanne - The Liberty Tree - The Man from God-Knows-Where - The Memory of the Dead (Who Fears to Speak of '98) - The Men of the West - Michael Dwyer - Mise 'Gus Tusa 'Gus 'Roball Na Muice - Molly Doyle, the Heroine of Ross - Napper Tandy - The Rising of the Moon - Roddy MacCorley - The Sean Bhean Bhocht - The Swinish Multitude - Tone's Grave (Bodenstown Churchyard) - The Year of the French


Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey (1762-1798) was a Protestant landlord, appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Wexford rebels. After the attack on New Ross (5 June) he became President of a Provincial Council to manage the affairs of the county. After the fall of Wexford, he attempted to hide out on the Saltee Islands but was captured and executed.

Farewell to Bargy's lofty towers, my father's own estate
And farewell to its lovely bowers, my own ancestral seat
Farewell each friend and neighbour, that once I well knew there
My tenants now will miss the hand that fostered them with care

Farewell to Cornelius Grogan, and to Kelly ever true
John Coakley and good Father Roche, receive my last adieu
And fare-thee-well bold Esmond Kyan, though proud oppression's laws
Forbid us to lay down our lives, still we bless the holy cause

Farewell my brave Unitedmen, who dearly with me fought
Though tyrant might has conquered right, full dearly was it bought
And when the sun of freedom shall again upon you shine
Oh, then let Bagenal Harvey's name array your battle line

Although perchance it may be my fate, in Wexford town to die
Oh, bear my body to the tomb wherin my fathers lie
And have the solemn service read, in Mayglass holy towers
And have twelve young maids from Bargyside, to scatter my grave with flowers

So farewell to Bargy's lofty towers, since from you I must part
A stranger now may call you his, which with sorrow fills my heart
But when at last fate shall decree that Ireland should be free
Then Bagenal Harvey's rightful heirs shall be returned to thee



Elizabeth Gray joined the rebel forces in County Down along with her brother, George, and her lover, William Boal. After the defeat at Ballinahinch (12 June) all three were killed as they retreated.

The star of evening slowly rose
Through shades of twillight gleaming
It shone to witness Erin's woes
Her children's life's blood streaming
'Twas then, sweet star, thy pensive ray
Fell on the cold unconscious clay
That wraps the breast of Betsy Gray
In softened lustre beaming



The proper Ordnance Survey spelling for the village about eight miles north-east of Enniscorthy is Boleyvogue. Balladeers will have none of that, and with its double 'o' it has become one of the most popular 1798 songs.

At Boolavogue, as the sun was setting
O'er the bright May meadows of Shelmalier,
A rebel hand set the heather blazing
And brought the neighbours from far and near.
Then Father Murphy, from old Kilcormack,
Spurred up the rocks with a warning cry;
"Arm! Arm!" he cried, "for I've come to lead you,
For Ireland's freedom we fight or die."

He led us on gainst the coming soldiers,
And the cowardly Yeomen we put to flight;
Twas at the Harrow the boys of Wexford
Showed Bookey's regiment how men could fight.
Look out for hirelings, King George of England,
Search every kingdom where breathes a slave,
For Father Murphy of the County Wexford
Sweeps o'er the land like a mighty wave.

We took Camolin and Enniscorthy,
And Wexford storming drove out our foes;
Twas at Sliabh Coillte our pikes were reeking
With the crimson stream of the beaten Yeos.
At Tubberneering and Ballyellis
Full many a Hessian lay in his gore;
Ah, Father Murphy, had aid come over
The green flag floated from shore to shore!

At Vinegar Hill, o'er the pleasant Slaney,
Our heroes vainly stood back to back,
And the Yeos at Tullow took Father Murphy
And burned his body upon the rack.
God grant you glory, brave Father Murphy
And open heaven to all your men;
The cause that called you may call to-morrow
In another fight for the Green again.

P.J. McCall (1861-1919)


This lively march captures the "beaten-but-not-broken" attitude after 1798 and names famous actions: Oulart Hill (27 May), New Ross (5 June), Vinegar Hill (21 June).

In comes the captain's daughter,the captain of the Yeos,
Saying "Brave United Irishman, we'll ne'er again be foes.
A thousand pounds I'll give you and fly from home with thee,
And dress myself in man's attire and fight for liberty."

We are the boys of Wexford, who fought with heart and hand
To burst in twain the galling chain and free our native land.

"I want no gold, my maiden fair, to fly from home with thee;
Your shining eyes will be my prize more dear than gold to me.
I want no gold to nerve my arm to do a true man's part
To free my land I'd gladly give the red drops from my heart."

And when we left our cabins, boys, we left with right good will
To see our friends and neighbours that were at Vinegar Hill!
A young man from our Irish ranks a cannon he let go;
He slapt it into Lord Mountjoy a tyrant he laid low!

We bravely fought and conquered at Ross and Wexford town;
Three Bullet Gate for years to come will speak for our renown;
Through Walpole's horse and Walpole's foot on Tubberneering's day,
Depending on the long, bright pike, and well it worked its way.

And Oulart's name shall be their shame, whose steel we ne'er did fear,
For every man could do his part like Forth and Shelmalier!
And if, for want of leaders, we lost at Vinegar Hill,
We're ready for another fight, and love our country still!

Robert Dwyer Joyce (1830-1883)


Denis Browne was High Sheriff of County Mayo in 1798 and dealt savagely with those who had participated in the Rising. It was estimated that Denis Browne had 200 men hanged, 200 transported and 100 more pressed into service in the British Army overseas or salt mines on the Continent.

A Dhonncha Brúin s deas do chraithfinn lámh leat
Agus ní le grá duit ach le fonn do ghabháil
Cheanglóinn suas thú le rópa cnáibe
Agus chuirfinn mo "Spír" i do bholg mór.
Mar is iomaí buachaill maith chuir tú thar sáile
Thiocfas anall fís is cúnamh leo
Faoi chultaibh dearga agus hataí lása
S beidh an droma Francach a' seinm leo!

If I got your hand, it is I would take it
But not to shake it, O Denis Browne,
But to hang you high with a hempen cable
And your feet unable to find the ground.
For it's many's the boy who was strong and able
You sent in chains with your tyrant frown;
But they'll come again, with the French flag waving
And the French drums raving to strike you down!

Antaine Ó Reachtabhra (1784-1835)


One of the best known songs of 1798. It tells of one young "Croppy" who was captured and tried by court-martial.

It was early early in the spring,
The birds did whistle and sweetly sing,
Changing their notes from tree to tree,
And the song they sang was old Ireland free.

It was early early last Tuesday night,
The yeoman cavalry gave me a fright;
The yeoman cavalry was my downfall,
And taken was I by Lord Cornwall.

It was to the guard-house I then was led,
And in a parlour I was tried;
My sentence passed and my courage low
To New Geneva I was forced to go.

As I was passing my father's door,
My brother William stood at the door;
My aged father stood at the door,
And my tender mother her hair she tore.

As I was walking up Wexford Street
My own first cousin I chanced to meet;
My own first cousin did me betray,
And for one bare guinea swore my life away.

My sister Mary heard the express,
She ran upstairs in her morning dress
Five hundred guineas she would lay down,
To see me liberated in Wexford Town.

As I was walking up Wexford Hill,
Who could blame me to cry my fill?
I looked behind and I looked before,
But my tender mother I shall ne'er see more.

As I was mounted on the platform high,
My aged father was standing by;
My aged father did me deny,
And the name he gave me was the Croppy Boy.

It was in Geneva this young man died,
And in Geneva his body lies;
All you good Christians that do pass by
Breathe a prayer, shed a tear for the Croppy Boy.



In Dunlavin, County Wicklow, Captain Moreley Saunders marched 36 prisoners, among them 28 yeoman suspected of having sympathies towards the United Irishmen, from the jail to the village green. They were executed on the spot.

In the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety eight
A sorrowful tale the truth unto you I'll relate
Of thirty-six heroes to the world were left to be seen
By a false information were shot on Dunlavin Green

Bad luck to you Saunders, for you did their lives betray
You said a parade would be held on that very day
Our drums they did rattle - our fifes they did sweetly play
Surrounded we were and privately marched away

Quite easy they led us as prisoners through the town
To be slaughtered on the plain, we were then forced to kneel down
Such grief and such sorrow were never before there seen
When the blood ran in streams down the dykes of Dunlavin Green

There is young Matty Farrell has plenty of cause to complain
Also the two Duffys who were also shot down on the plain
And young Andy Ryan, his mother distracted will run
For her own brave boy, her beloved eldest son

Bad luck to you, Saunders, may bad luck never you shun!
That the widow's curse may melt you like the snow in the sun
The cries of the orphans whose murmurs you cannot screen
For the murder of their dear fathers on Dunlavin Green

Some of our boys to the hills they are going away
Some of them are shot and some of them going to sea
Micky Dwyer in the mountains to Saunders he owes a spleen
For his loyal brothers who were shot on Dunlavin Green



Lord Edward Fitzgerald (1763-1798) led an aventerous life as a British soldier and as an explorer in Canada. Greatly influenced by the French Revolution he became an United Irishman and was appointed Commander-in-Chief. Betrayed and arrested in May 1798, he died of wounds received during his capture.

What plaintive sounds strike on my ear!
They're Erin's deep-ton'd piteous groans
Her Harp, attun'd to sorrow drear
In broken numbers joins her moans
In doleful groups around her stand
Her manly sons (her greatest pride)
In mourning deep, for by the hand
Of ruthless villains Edward died



During the night of May 26-27, the North Cork Militia burned the church at Boolavogue. The arson attack drove Father John Murphy (1753-1798) becoming one of the leaders of the rebellion in Wexford. After the defeat at Vinegar Hill (21 June), he escaped but was eventually captured, executed and burned in a barrel of pitch.

Come all you warriors and renowned nobles
Give ear unto my warlike theme
While I relate how brave Father Murphy
He lately roused from his sleepy dream
Sure Julius Caesar nor Alexander
Nor brave King Arthur ever equalled him
For armies formidable he did conquer
Though with two pikemen he did begin

Camolin cavalry he did unhorse them
Their first lieutenant he cut him down
With shattered ranks and with broken columns
They soon returned to Camolin town
At the hill of Oulart he displayed his valour
Where a hundred Corkmen lay on the plain
At Enniscorthy his sword he wielded
And I hope to see him once more again

When Enniscorthy became subject unto him
Twas then to Wexford we marched our men
And on the Three Rock took up our quarters
Waiting for daylight the town to win
The loyal townsmen gave their assistance
We will die or conquer they all did say
The yeomen cavalry made no resistance,
For on the pavement their corpses lay

With drums a-beating the town did echo
And acclamations came from door to door
On the Windmill Hill we pitched our tents then
We drank like heroes but paid no score
On Carraig Rua for some time we waited
And next to Gorey we did repair
At Tubberneering we thought no harm
The bloody army was waiting there

The issue of it was a close engagement
While on the soldiers we played warlike pranks
Through the sheepwalks, hedgerows and shady thickets
There were mangled bodies and broken ranks
The shuddering cavalry, I can't forget them
We raised the brushes on their helmets straight
They turned about and made straight for Dublin
As though they ran for a ten pound plate

Now, some crossed Donnybrook and more through Blackrock
And some up Shankhill without wound or flaw
And if Barry Lawless be not a liar
There was more went groaning up Luggela
To the Windmill Hill of Enniscorthy,
The British Fencibles they fled like deers
But our ranks were tattered and sorely scattered
By the loss o Kyan and his Shelamaliers

The streets of England were left quite naked
Of all their army both foot and horse
The Highlands Scotland were left unguarded
Likewise the Hessians the seas did cross
But if the Frenchmen had reinforced us
And landed transports at Baginbun
Father John Murphy, he would be their seconder
And sixteen thousand with him would come

Success attend you sweet County Wexford
Threw off the yoke and to battle run
Let them not think we gave up our arms
For every man still has a pike and gun.



Henry Munro (1758-1798) was a Scottish Protestant linen draper from Lisburn and leader of County Down rebels. After the defeat at Ballinahinch (13 June), he was hanged in front of his own home. Tradition tells, Munro gave the signal to pull the ladder from under him by dropping his own handkerchief.

My name is George Campbell at the age of eighteen
I joined the United Men to strive for the green,
And many a battle I did undergo
With that hero commander, brave General Munro.

Have you heard of the Battle of Ballinahinch
Where the people oppressed rose up in defence?
When Munro left the mountains his men took the field,
And they fought for twelve hours and never did yield.

Munro being tired and in want of a sleep,
Gave a woman ten guineas his secret to keep.
But when she got the money the devil tempted her so
That she sent for the soldiers and surrendered Munro.

The army they came and surrounded the place,
And they took him to Lisburn and lodged him in jail.
And his father and mother in passing that way
Heard the very last words that their dear son did say!

"Oh, I die for my country as I fought for her cause,
And I don't fear your soldiers nor yet heed your laws.
And let every true man who hates Ireland's foe
Fight bravely for freedom like Henry Munro."

And twas early one morning when the sun was still low,
They murdered our hero brave General Munro,
And high o'er the Courthouse stuck his head on a spear,
For to make the United men tremble and fear.

Then up came Munro's sister, she was all dressed in green,
With a sword by her side that was well-sharped and keen.
Giving three hearty cheers, away she did go
Saying, "I'll have revenge for my brother Munro."

All ye good men who listen, just think of the fate
Of the brave men who died in the year Ninety Eight.
For poor old Ireland would be free long ago
If her sons were all rebels like Henry Munro.



This song celebrates the Cork Militia. Over hundred militia men were killed at Oulart Hill (27 May) by the insurgents and there's a story that the Corkmen were crying for mercy in Irish, which ironically the rebels couldn't understand.

Now de war, dearest Nancy, is ended
And de peace is come over from France
So our gallant Cork City Militia
Back again to head-quarters advance
No longer a beating dose rebels
We'll now be a beating de bull
And taste dose genteel recreations
Dat are found in de groves of de Pool

Right fol didder rol didder rol, didder rol, right fol didder rol dae

Wid our band out before us in order
We played coming into de town
We up'd wid de ould 'Boyne Water'
Not forgetting, too, 'Croppies lie down'
Bekase you might read in the newses
'Twas we made dose rebels so cool
Who all thought, like Turks or like Jewses,
To murther de boys of de Pool

Richard Alfred Milliken (1767-1815)


Henry Joy McCracken (1767-1798) was a Presbyterian cotton factory manager in Belfast and founder-member of the United Irishmen. He led the rising in County Antrim. Arrested after the defeat at Antrim Town (7 June), he was court-martialled and hanged - "for his treason to both Britain and his social class".

An Ulster man I am proud to be,
From the Antrim glens I come.
Although I labour by the sea,
I have followed flag and drum.
I have heard the martial tramp of men;
I've seen them fight and die.
Ah! lads I well remember when
I followed Henry Joy.

I pulled my boat in from the sea,
I hid my sails away.
I hung my nets upon a tree
And scanned the moonlit bay.
The boys were out, the redcoats too,
I bade my wife good-bye,
And then beneath the greenwood glade
I followed Henry Joy.

Alas, for Ireland's cause we fought
For home and sire we bled.
Though our arms were few, our hearts beat true
And five to one lay dead.
And many a lassie missed her lad
And mother mourned her boy,
For youth was strong in the dashing throng
That followed Henry Joy.

In Belfast town they built a tree
And the redcoats mustered there.
I watched him come as the roll of the drum
Sounded on the barrack square.
He kissed his sister, went aloft
Then waved a last good-bye,
And as he died, I turned and cried
They have murdered Henry Joy.



John Kelly was seriously wounded at New Ross recovering in Wexford Town when it was recaptured by the British. A neighbour whose life he had saved some days before, gave evidence against him. He was hanged on Wexford Bridge. The farmers of east Shelmalier were accustomed to shoot wild fowl on the North sloblands. Their "long barrelled guns" proved to be very effective weapons during the Rising.

What's the news? What's the news? O my bold Shelmalier,
With your long-barrelled gun of the sea?
Say what wind from the south blows his messenger here
With a hymn of the dawn for the free?
"Goodly news, goodly news, do I bring, Youth of Forth;
Goodly news shall you hear, Bargy man!
For the boys march at morn from the South to the North,
Led by Kelly, the Boy from Killanne!"

"Tell me who is that giant with gold curling hair
He who rides at the head of your band?
Seven feet is his height, with some inches to spare,
And he looks like a king in command!"
"Ah, my lads, that's the pride of the bold Shelmaliers,
Mong our greatest of heroes, a Man! --
Fling your beavers aloft and give three ringing cheers
For John Kelly, the Boy from Killanne!"

Enniscorthy's in flames, and old Wexford is won,
And the Barrow tomorrow we cross,
On a hill o'er the town we have planted a gun
That will batter the gateways of Ross!
All the Forth men and Bargy men march o'er the heath,
With brave Harvey to lead on the van;
But the foremost of all in the grim Gap of Death
Will be Kelly, the Boy from Killanne!"

But the gold sun of Freedom grew darkened at Ross,
And it set by the Slaney's red waves;
And poor Wexford, stript naked, hung high on a cross,
And her heart pierced by traitors and slaves!
Glory O! Glory O! to her brave sons who died
For the cause of the long-down-trodden man!
Glory O! to Mount Leinster's own darling and pride
Dauntless Kelly, the Boy from Killanne!"

P.J. McCall (1861-1919)


Taking example from the French Revolution, a custom among United Irishmen planting a "Liberty Tree" began.

It was the year of '93
The French did plant an olive tree
The symbol of great liberty
And the people danced around it
O was not I telling you
The French declared courageously
That Equality, Freedom and Fraternity
Would be the cry of every nation

In '94 a new campaign
The tools of darkness did maintain
Gall's brave sons did form a league
And their foes they were dumb-founded
They gave to Flanders liberty
And all its people they set free
The Dutch and Austrians home did flee
And the Dukes they were confounded

Behold may all of Human-kind
Emancipated with the French combine
May laurels green all on them shine
And their sons and daughters long wear them
May every tyrant shake with dread
And tremble for their guilty head
May the Fleur-de-Lis in dust be laid
And they no longer wear them

For Church and State in close embrace
Is the burden of the Human Race
And people tell you to your face
That long you will repent it.
For Kings in power and preaching drones
Are the cause of all your heavy groans
Down from your pulpits, down from your thrones
You will tumble unlamented.


Thomas Paine from Thetford (Norfolk) replied to Edmund Burke's denouncement of the French Revolution in "The Rights of Man" 1791/2. The Rights of Man had run through seven irish editions and was becoming known as the "Koran of Belfast". The British government indicted Paine for treason in May 1792 and issued a proclamation against "seditious writings". Paine learned that the department of Calais had elected him their representive in the National Convention and he considered it more important to take his seat in Paris. But his bluntless and love of liberty made him unpopular with the Jacobins. He was thrown into prison and escaped the guillotine by an accident.

In a chariot of light from the regions of day
The Goddess of Liberty came;
Ten thousand celestials directed the way
And thither conducted the Dame.
This fair budding branch, from the garden above,
Where millions with millions agree,
She bro't in her hand, as a pledge of her love
The plant she call'd Liberty Tree.

This celestial exotic struck deep in the ground
Like a native it flourish'd and bore.
The fame of its fruit drew the nations around
To seek out its peaceable shore.
Unmindful of names or distinction they came
For freemen like brothers agree,
With one spirit endow'd, they one friendship pursued
And their temple was Liberty Tree.

Beneath this fair branch, like the patriarchs of old
Their bread, in contentment, they eat.
Unwearied with trouble, of silver and gold,
Or the cares of the grand and the great.
With timber and tar they old England supplied
Supported her power on the sea;
Her battles they fought, without having a groat
For the honour of Liberty Tree.

But hear, O ye swains ('tis a tale most profane)
How all the tyrannical powers,
King, Commons and Lords are uniting amain
To cut down this guardian of ours.
From the east to the west, blow the trumpet to arms
Thro' the land let the sound of it flee;
Let the far and the near, all unite with a cheer
In defense of our Liberty Tree.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809)


Thomas Russell (1767-1803) organised County Down for the United Irishmen in 1795. One night he entered the Buck's Head Inn in Killyleagh, where a number of local men were gathered. One of them, long years after, tells of that night, and tells where and under what circumstances he saw Russell again. Russell was imprisoned on the eve of the Rising. On his release in 1802 he immediately planned rebellion yet again. He was hanged on 21 October, 1803.

Into our townlan', on a night of snow,
Rode a man from God-knows-where;
None of us bade him stay or go,
Nor deemed him friend, nor damned him foe.
But we stabled his big roan mare:
For in our townlan' we're a decent folk,
And if he didn't speak, why none of us spoke,
And we sat till the fire burned low.

We're a civil sort in our wee place,
So we made the circle wide
Round Andy Lemon's cheerful blaze,
And wished the man his lenth o'days;
And a good end to his ride,
He smiled in under his slouchy hat
Says he: "There's a bit of a joke in that,
For we ride different ways."

The whiles we smoked we watched him
From his seat fornenst the glow,
I nudged Joe Moore, "You wouldn't dare
To ask him who he's for meetin' there,
And how far he has got to go?"
But Joe wouldn't dare, nor Wully Scott,
And he took no drink neither cold nor hot
This man from God-knows-where.

It was closin' time, an' late forbye,
When us ones braved the air
I never saw worse (may I live or die)
Than the sleet that night, an' I says, says I,
"You'll find he's for stoppin' there."
But at screek o' day, through the gable pane
I watched him spur in the peltin' rain,
And I juked from his rovin' eye.

Two winters more, then the Trouble Year,
When the best that a man could feel
Was the pike he kept in hidlin's near,
Till the blood o' hate an' the blood o' fear
Would be redder nor rust on the steel.
Us ones quet from mindin' the farms
Let them take what we gave wi' the weight o' our arms,
From Saintfield to Kilkeel.

In the time o' the Hurry, we had no lead
We all of us fought with the rest
An' if e'er a one shook like a tremblin' reed
None of us gave neither hint nor heed,
Nor even even'd we'd guessed.
We men of the North had a word to say,
An' we said it then, in our own dour way,
An' we spoke as we thought was best.

All Ulster over, the weemen cried
For the stan'in' crops on the lan'
Many's the sweetheart an' many's the bride
Would liefer ha' gone till where he died.
An ha' murned her lone by her man,
But us one weathered the thick of it,
And we used to dandher along, and sit
In Andy's side by side.

What with discoorse goin' to and fro,
The night would be wearin' thin,
Yet never so late when we rose to go
But someone would say: "Do ye min' thon snow,
An' the man what came wanderin' in?
And we be to fall to the talk again,
If by chance he was one o' them
The man who went like the win'.

Well, twas gettin' on past the heat o' the year
When I rode to Newtown fair;
I sold as I could (the dealers were near
Only three pounds eight for the Innish steer,
An' nothin' at all for the mare!)
But I met McKee in the throng o' the street
Says he, "The grass has grown under our feet
Since they hanged young Warwick here."

And he told me that Boney had promised help
To a man in Dublin town
Says he, "If ye've laid the pike on the shelf,
Ye'd better go home hot-fut by yerself,
An' once more take it down."
So by Comer road I trotted the gray
And never cut corn until Killyleagh
Stood plain on the risin' groun'.

For a wheen o' days we sat waitin' the word
To rise and go at it like men,
But no French ships sailed into Cloughey Bay,
And we heard the black news on a harvest day
That the cause was lost again;
And Joey and me, and Wully Boy Scott,
We agreed to ourselves we'd as lief as not
Ha' been found in the thick o' the slain.

By Downpatrick Gaol I was bound to fare
On a day I'll remember, feth;
For when I came to the prison square
The people were waitin' in hundreds there,
An' you wouldn't hear stir nor breath!
For the sodgers were standin', grim an' tall,
Round a scaffold built there fomenst the wall,
An' a man stepped out for death!

I was brave an' near to the edge o' the throng,
Yet I knowed the face again,
An' I knowed the set, an' I knowed the walk
An' the sound of his strange up-country talk,
For he spoke out right an' plain.
Then he bowed his head to the swingin' rope,
While I said, "Please God" to his dying' hope
And "Amen" to his dying prayer.
That the Wrong would cease and the Right prevail.
For the man that they hanged at Downpatrick Gaol
Was the man from God-knows-where!

Florence M. Wilson


1798 left ten thousands dead. This poem was first published anonymously in the 1840s. Despite the poem's sentiments, John Kells Ingram was never overtly nationalistic; indeed he became a strong unionist in later years.

Who fears to speak of 'Ninety-eight'?
Who blushes at the name?
When cowards mock the patriot's fate
Who hangs his head for shame?
He's all a knave or half a slave
Who slights his country thus,
But a true man, like you, man,
Will fill your glass with us.

We drink the memory of the brave,
The faithful and the few,
Some lie far off beyond the wave,
Some sleep in Ireland too;
All, all are gone, but still lives on
The fame of those who died,
All true men, like you, men,
Remember them with pride.

Some on the shores of distant lands
Their weary hearts have laid,
And by the stranger's heedless hands
Their lonely graves were made;
But though their clay be far away,
Beyond the Atlantic foam,
In true men, like you, men,
Their spirit's still at home.

The dust of some is Irish earth,
Among their own they rest;
And that same land that gave them birth
Has caught them to her breast;
And we will pray that from their clay
Full many a race may start
Of true men, like you, men,
To play as brave a part.

They rose in dark and evil days
To free their native land
And kindled then a living blaze
That nothing shall withstand;
Alas, that might should conquer right,
They fell and passed away
But true men, like you, men,
Are plenty here today.

Then here's their memory, let it be
To us a guiding light
To cheer our fight for liberty
And teach us to unite!
Though good and ill be Ireland's still,
Though sad as their your fate,
Yet true men, be you, men,
Like those of 'Ninety-eight.

John Kells Ingram (1823-1907)


This popular march tune extols the United Irishmen who joined the long-awaited French under General Humbert.

While you honour in song and in story the names of the patriot men,
Whose valour has covered with glory full many a mountain and glen,
Forget not the boys of the heather, who marshalled their bravest and best,
When Éire was broken in Wexford, and looked for revenge to the West.

I give you the gallant old West, boys,
Where rallied our bravest and best
When Ireland lay broken and bleeding;
Hurrah for the men of the West!

The hilltops with glory were glowing. twas the eve of a bright harvest day,
When the ships we'd been wearily waiting sailed into Killala' broad bay;
And over the hills went the slogan, to waken in every breast
The fire that has never been quenched, boys, among the true hearts of the West.

Killala was ours ere the midnight, and high over Ballina town
Our banners in triumph were waving before the next sun had gone down.
We gathered to speed the good work, boys, the true men anear and afar;
And history can tell how we routed the redcoats through old Castlebar.

And pledge we "The stout sons of France", boys, bold Humbert and all his brave men,
Whose tramp, like the trumpet of battle, brought hope to the drooping again.
Since Éire has caught to her bosom on many a mountain and hill
The gallants who fell so they're here, boys, to cheer us to victory still.

Though all the bright dreamings we cherished went down in disaster and woe,
The spirit of old is still with us that never would bend to the foe;
And Connacht is ready whenever the loud rolling tuck of the drum
Rings out to awaken the echoes and tell us the morning has come.

So here's to the gallant old West, boys,
Which rallied her bravest and best
When Ireland was broken and bleeding;
Hurrah, boys! Hurrah for the West!

William Rooney (1873-1901)


Michael Dwyer (1771-1826) from the Glen of Imail, County Wicklow, was known as "The Man They Couldn't Capture". After the rising he led the authorities a merry dance as leader of a mountain guerilla band. In 1804 he surrendered himself and was transported to a penal colony in New South Wales, Australia. Twelve years later, Dwyer became Chief Constable of Liverpool, Sydney.

Have you heard of Michael Dwyer and his mountain men?
Runs your blood like molten fire when you hear again
How he dashed like mountain torrent on his country's bitter foes
Like a thundering, tearing torrent on the craven Yeos?

Here's the chorus, chant it loudly on the still night air
As the war shout rises proudly o'er the trumpet's blair
Chant it! Peal it! Till it echoes over ev'ry hill and glen
Here's to gallant Michael Dwyer and his mountain men

When the stars of freedom vanished and our flag went down
And the nation's hope was banished from each vale and town
Borne intact thru' blood and fire Ireland's banner waved again
Held aloft by Michael Dwyer and his mountain men

Still the nation's hopes are burning as they burned of yore
And the young and strong are yearning for the battle's roar
But the blessed star of liberty shall never blaze again
Till we strike like Michael Dwyer and his mountain men

Peadar Kearney / Paddy Heaney


A contemporary song that refers to the French at Killala and Castlebar. The "bacaigh Shiol Aindi" (cripple of the race of Andrew) probably refers to the "Bucky Highlanders" operating in Mayo during the rebellion. Climbing the "Reek" or Croagh Patrick is a penitential exercise.

An raibh tú g Cill Ala,
Nó i gCaisleán an Bharraigh,
Nó'n bhfaca tú n campa
Bhí age na Francaigh?
Mise gus tusa gus ruball na muice
Gus bacaigh Shíol Aindí, bacaigh Shíol Aindí

Do bhí mé g Cill Ala
S i gCaisleán an Bharraigh
S do chonaic mé n campa
Bhí age na Francaigh.
Mise gus tusa 7rl.

An raibh tú r a' gCruach,
Nó n bhfaca tú n slua
Do bhí ar Chruach Phádraic
Bhí ar Cruach Phádraic?
Mise gus tusa 7rl.

Do bhí mé r a' gCruach
S do chonaic mé n slua
Do bhí ar Chruach Phádraic
Bhí ar Chruach Phádraic
Mise gus tusa 7rl.


Were you in Killala or in Castlebar
Or did you see the camp the French had there?
Me and you and the pig's tail and Bucky Heelander, Bucky Heelander.
I was in Killala ...
Were you on the Reek or did you see the throng
That was on Croagh Patrick, that was on Croagh Patrick ...
I was on the Reek ...


On the eve of the battle of New Ross, Molly Doyle of Castleboro persuaded her aged father to return home. She promptly took his place in the insurgent ranks. During the battle when the rebels ran out of powder and ball, Molly leaped among the dead and wounded redcoats and cut free their ammunition pouches.

Up from fitful sleep we wakened at the first kiss of the day;
There was silence by our watchfires, for we knew the task that lay
To be wrought to joy or ruin ere the stairs should look again
On the places of our childhood hill and river, rath and glen.

We were thinking of the dear ones that we left to face the foe,
And we prayed for all the brave ones that were lying cold and low,
And we looked upon the meadows staring blank against the sun,
Then we thought upon the future and the work that must be done.

Fear! we knew not, for Vengeance burned fierce in every heart;
Doubt! why doubt, when we but hungered each to do a true man's part?
"On to Ross!" our pulses quickened as the word from man to man
Passed along, and brave John Kelly forward stepped to lead the van.

Through the misty summer morn by the hedgerows bright we sped,
While the lark with joyous music filled the spreading dome o'erhead.
And the sun rode up the circle, and the earth began to smile,
But our hearts knew nought of pleasure, they were cold as ice the while.

Silent all, with stony gaze, and lips as tightly locked as death,
On we went by flowering thorns through the balmy summer's breath,
On, till Ross was close upon us, then a shout resounding rose,
And like ocean's waves in winter in we leaped upon our foes!

For a brief, brief spell they quavered, then their muskets rang reply,
And our boys in hundreds falling looked their last upon the sky.
But, the empty places filling, still we rallied to the fray,
Till the misty summer morning wore into the dusty day.

Then a figure rose above us, twas a girl's fragile frame,
And among the fallen soldiers there she walked with eyes aflame,
And her voice rang o'er the clamour like a trumpet o'er the sea:
"Who so dares to die for Ireland, let him come and follow me."

Then against the line of soldiers with a gleaming scythe on high,
Lo! she strode, and though their bullets whistled round, they passed her by,
And a thousand bosoms throbbing, one wild surging shout we gave,
And we swept them from our pathway like the sand before the wave.

William Rooney (1873-1901)


Also the loyalist side had their songs. James Napper Tandy (1740-1803), a Dublin ironmonger, joined the United Irishman on its foundation. Captured and sentenced to death, he was released at the request of Napoleon.

The ninth day of November in the year of ninety-one
The Rebel Napper Tandy his villainy began
In forming a conspiracy, this nation to embroil
In civil war and mutiny and to pollute the soil

His wicked crew they did intend our Governors to kill
And any of the Protestants who dare oppose their will
To massacre our ministers and pull our churches down
To extirpate the Orangemen and take from George his crown

They burn'd houses and straw stacks the assembled in the night
Broke upon doors and windows in order to affright
The people to comply with them crying give out your gun
And unite with us immediately or else you are undone

The Croppies most outrageously did take an active part
Against the Church of England and thought to make her smart
But proidence protected us from this blood-thirsty clan
And prevented them to act a scene like that of Forty-one

We value not the Yeomanry these rebels oft did say
Tis easy to disarm them and soon well gain the day
And every man who is not up shall hang at his own door
And we ll guillotine each Royalist let him be rich or poor

If on the way we chanced to meet one of this wicked clan
He asks you Are you up to snuff or whats that in your hand
And if you know not what to say he answers with a frown
Since it is a thing you are not up I'll there fore knock you down

They carried on their fury ding there but no-one tells t....
When to this vile conspiracy a happy check was given
For Government found out their schemes and turned their plan astray
And made them swear allegiance may we bless that happy day

Then to disperse this brotherhood Lord Blaney he came down
To recompense the insolence of each insulting clown
Their midnight vengeance did reward and filled them with dismay
And for their perseverance soon he mad the caitiffs pay

But to conclude kind Providence dispelled the wicked throng
So let us sing God Save the Queen and may her reign be long
Success to each true Protestant who does maintain this cause
Against those vile conspirators in honor of his laws



The young Fenian poet John Keegan Casey died when he was only 23 as a result of the rigours of imprisonment. The "Singing River" is the Inny which flows into the Shannon from his native area between Mullingar and Ballymahon. By coincidence, his birthday was 22 August, the same as General Humbert's and the date Humbert landed at Killala.

Oh! then tell me, Seán O'Farrell,
Tell me why you hurry so?
"Hush, mo buachaill, hush and listen,"
And his cheeks were all aglow.
"I bear orders from the Captain,
Get you ready quick and soon
For the pikes must be together
By the rising of the moon."

Oh! then tell me, Seán O'Farrell,
Where the gathering is to be?
"In the old spot by the river
Right well known to you and me.
One word more for signal token,
Whistle up the marching tune,
With your pike upon your shoulder,
By the rising of the moon."

Out from many a mud-wall cabin
Eyes were watching through the night,
Many a manly breast was throbbing
For the blessed warning light.
Murmurs passed along the valleys
Like the Banshees lonely croon,
And a thousand blades were flashing
At the rising of the moon.

There beside the singing river
That dark mass of men were seen;
Far above the shining weapons
Hung their own beloved green.
"Death to every foe and traitor!
Forward! strike the marching tune,
And hurrah, my boys, for freedom!
Tis the rising of the moon."

Well they fought for poor old Ireland,
And full bitter was their fate
Oh! what glorious pride and sorrow
Fill the name of Ninety-eight!
Yet, thank God, e'en still are beating
Hearts in manhood's burning noon,
Who would follow in their footsteps
At the rising of the moon!

John Keegan Casey (1846-1870)


After the defeat of the United Irishmen many were unable to return to their former lives and instead became brigands. The most notorious gang in Antrim was led by a man named Thomas Archer. Initially Archer's gang were popular outlaws, exacting revenge on loyalists in the district but, as time passed, their actions became less political and more criminal. During early 1800 the members of the gang were systematically brought to justice and executed. Roddy McCorley was hanged at Toome on 28 February.

Ho! see the fleetfoot hosts of men
Who speed with faces wan,
From farmstead and from fisher's cot
Upon the banks of the Bann.
They come with vengeance in their eyes.
Too late, too late are they.
For Roddy MacCorley goes to die
On the Bridge of Toome today.

Oh Ireland, Mother Ireland,
You love them still the best;
The fearless brave who fighting fall,
Upon your hapless breast;
But never a one of all your dead
More bravely fell in fray,
Than he who marches to his fate
On the Bridge of Toome today.

Up the narrow street he stepped
Smiling and proud and young;
About the hemp-rope on his neck
The golden ringlets clung.
There's never a tear in the blue, blue eyes
Both glad and bright are they;
As Roddy MacCorley goes to die
On the Bridge of Toome today.

Ah! when he last stepped up that street
His shining pike in hand,
Behind him marched in grim array
A stalwart earnest band!
For Antrim town! for Antrim town!
He led them to the fray
And Roddy MacCorley goes to die
On the Bridge of Toome today.

The grey coat and its sash of green
Were brave and stainless then;
A banner flashed beneath the sun
Over the marching men
The coat hath many a rent this noon
The sash is torn away,
And Roddy MacCorley goes to die
On the Bridge of Toome today.

Oh! how his pike flashed to the sun!
Then found a foeman's heart!
Through furious fight, and heavy odds
He bore a true man's part;
And many a red-coat bit the dust
Before his keen pike-play
But Roddy MacCorley goes to die
On the Bridge of Toome today.

Because he loved the Motherland,
Because he loved the Green,
He goes to meet the martyr's fate
With proud and joyous mien,
True to the last, true to the last,
He treads the upward way
Young Roddy MacCorley goes to die
On the Bridge of Toome today.

Ethna Carbery (1866-1902)


The "Sean Bhean Bhocht", literally the "poor old woman", is Ireland unfree, hoping for a French invasion.

O! The French are on the sea
Says the sean-bhean bhocht;
The French are on the sea,
Says the sean-bhean bhocht;
O! the French are in the bay,
They'll be here without delay,
And the Orange will decay,
Says the sean-bhean bhocht.

And their camp it shall be where?
Says the sean-bhean bhocht;
Their camp it shall be where?
Says the sean-bhean bhocht;
On the Curragh of Kildare,
The boys they will be there,
With their pikes in good repair,
Says the sean-bhean bhocht.

Then what will the yeomen do?
Says the sean-bhean bhocht;
What will the yeomen do?
Says the sean-bhean bhocht;
What should the yeoman do
But throw off the red and blue,
And swear that they'll be true
To the sean-bhean bhocht?

And what colour will they wear?
Says the sean-bhean bhocht;
What colour will they wear?
Says the sean-bhean bhocht;
What colour should be seen
Where our fathers' homes have been,
But our own immortal Green?
Says the sean-bhean bhocht.

And will Ireland then be free?
Says the sean-bhean bhocht;
Will Ireland then be free?
Says the sean-bhean bhocht;
Yes! Ireland SHALL be free,
From the centre to the sea;
Then hurrah! for Liberty!
Says the sean-bhean bhocht.



McCracken's rebel regiments advanced on Antrim Town (6 June) playing "The Swinish Multitude". The song was written by Leonard McNally, member of the United Irishmen from the early 1790s. However, he was also a paid agent of the government.

Give me the man whose dauntless soul
Oppressions's threats defires
And bids, though tyrant's thunders roll
The sun of freedom rise
Who laughs at all the conjured storms
State sorcery waked 'round
At power in all its varying forms
A title's empty sound

Hail ye friends united here
In virtue's sacred ties
May you like virtue's self keep clear
Of pensioners and spies
May you by Bastilles ne'er appalled
See nature's right renewed
Nor longer unavenged be called
The swinish multitude

Leonard McNally (1752-1820)


Theobald Wolfe Tone (1763-1798) was a Protestant barrister. A champion of Catholic emancipation, Tone was founder-member of the United Irishmen. His vision of an independent Ireland, free of sectarianism, had a powerful influence on contemporaries and later generations.

In Bodenstown churchyard there is a green grave,
And wildly around it the winter winds rave;
Small shelter I ween are the ruined walls there
When the storm sweeps down on the plains of Kildare.
Once I lay on that sod it lies over Wolfe Tone
And thought how he perished in prison alone,
His friends unavenged and his country unfreed
"Oh, bitter," I said, "is the patriots meed.

"For in him the heart of a woman combined
With heroic spirit and a governing mind
A martyr for Ireland, his grave has no stone
His name sheldom named, and his virtues unknown."
I was woke from my dream by the voices and tread
Of a band who came into the home of the dead;
They carried no corpse, and they carried no stone,
And they stopped when they came to the grave of Wolfe Tone.

There were students and peasants, the wise and the brave,
And an old man who knew him from cradle to grave,
And children who thought me hard-hearted, for they
On that sanctified sod were forbidden to play.
But the old man, who saw I was mourning there, said:
"We come, sir, to weep where young Wolfe Tone is laid,
And we're going to raise him a monument, too
A plain one, yet fit for the loyal and true."

My heart overflowed, and I clasped his old hand,
And I blessed him, and blessed every one of his band:
"Sweet, sweet tis to find that such faith can remain
In the cause and the man so long vanquished and slain."
In Bodenstown churchyard there is a green grave,
And freely around it let winter winds rave
Far better they suit him the ruin and gloom
Till Ireland, a nation, can build him a tomb.

Thomas Davis (1814-1845)


On an angry autumn morning, sailing down Killala bay
Came the Frenchmen and their general, too late to save the day
And my Nora waved them welcome, while I still nursed my wounds
Cruel marks from Tubberneering and all my dreams in ruins

Ah, you Frenchman, ah, you Frenchman! You've come too late again
To save the flower of freedom that's crushed in every glen
And your fancy General Humbert, well intended tho' he be
Will never reap the harvest that was promised to the free

At Castlebar he chased them, like foxes 'fore the hounds
Lord Roden's vaunted cavalry they raced across the ground
Seven hundred fiery Frenchmen, Mayo rebels, two cannon-gun
But I thought of Father Murphy lying dead with Wexford's sons

Then early in September, I saw it all again
Cornwallis and his thousands drove Humbert down the glen
While the beaten French were sent to France, the rebels they were slain
With Tone and Teeling martyred, the banshee cried again

Pete St. John

Compiled by Walkin' T:-)M (10/98).

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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 5/98

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