Songs of ’98


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 against the coming soldiers,
And the cowardly Yeomen we put to flight;
‘Twas at the Harrow the boys of Wexford
Showed Booky’s Regiment how men could fight.
Look out for hirelings, King George of England,
Search ev’ry 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 tomorrow
In another fight for the Green again.

The Croppy Boy

Words by Carroll Malone;
air: Cailín Óg a Stór

“Good men and true in this house who dwell,
To a stranger bouchal* I pray you tell:
Is the priest at home, or may he be seen?
I would speak a word with Father Green.”

“The Priest’s at home, boy, and may be seen;
‘Tis easy speaking with Father Green.
But you must wait till I go and see
If the Holy Father alone may be.”

The youth has enter’d an empty hall;
What a lonely sound has his light footfall!
And the gloomy chamber’s chill and bare,
With a vested Priest in a lonely chair.

The youth has knelt to tell his sins:
Nomine Dei,” the youth begins!
At “mea culpa” he beats his breast,
And in broken murmers he speaks the rest.

“At the siege of Ross did my father fall,
And at Gorey my loving brothers all.
I alone am left of my name and race;
I will go to Wexford and take their place.

“I cursed three times since last Easter day;
At mass time once I went to play;
I passed the churchyard one day in haste,
And forgot to pray for my mother’s rest.

“I bear no hate against living thing,
But I love my country above my king.
Now, Father! bless me and let me go
To die, if God has ordained it so.”

The priest said nought, but a rustling noise
Made the youth look above in wild surprise;
The robes were off, and in scarlet there
Sat a yoeman captain with fiery glare.

With fiery glare and with fury hoarse,
Instead of blessing, he breathed a curse:
“‘Twas a good thought, boy, to come here to shrive,
For one short hour is your time to live.

“Upon yon river three tenders float;
The Priest’s in one — if he isn’t shot!
We hold his house for our Lord the King,
And, amen say I, may all traitors swing!”

At Geneva Barrack that young man died,
And at Passage they have his body laid.
Good people who live in peace and joy,
Breathe a pray’r and a tear for the Croppy Boy.


The Croppy Boy
1.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!


2. It was early early in the night,
The yeoman cavalry gave me a fright;
To my misfortune and sad downfall,
I was taken prisoner by Lord Cornwall.

3. ‘Twas in the guard-house where I was laid,
And in a parlour where I was tried;
My sentence passed and my courage low
When to New Geneva* I was forced to go.

4. When I was marching through the street,
The drums and fifes did play so sweet,
The drums and fifes so sweetly play,
As we were marching so far away.

5. When I was going past my father’s door,
My brother, William, stood on the floor;
My aged father did grieve full sore,
And my tender mother her hair she tore.

6. When my sister, Mary, heard the express,
She ran down stairs in her morning dress,
Saying: one hundred guineas I would lay down
To see you liberated in Wexford town.

7. When I was marching o’er Wexford Hill,
Oh! who could blame me to cry my fill?
I looked behind, I looked before,
But my tender mother I ne’er saw more.

8. I chose the black, I chose the blue,
I forsook the red and orange too,
I did forsake them and did them deny,
I worn the green, and for it I’d die.

9. Farewell, father, and mother, too,
And sister Mary, I have none but you,
And for my brother he’s all alone,
He’s pointing pikes on the grinding stone.

10. It was in old Ireland this young man died,
And in old Ireland his body’s laid,
All the good people that do pass by
Pray the lord have mercy on the Croppy Boy.