Saturday, March 17, 2018 – Erin Go Bragh and Songs of the Rebellion
May the luck of the Irish be with you and may we always be free.
Two of my favorite Irish folk songs are about the Irish Rebellion of 1798.
While they speak of the slavery of the Irish by Mother England, the songs are sung today about freedom everywhere.
My favorite version of “The Minstrel Boy” comes from The Clancy Brothers with Tommy Maken.
“The Minstrel Boy” is an Irish patriotic song written by Thomas Moore (1779–1852) who set it to the melody of The Moreen, an old Irish air. It is widely believed that Moore composed the song in remembrance of a number of his friends, whom he met while studying at Trinity College, Dublin and who had participated in (and were killed during) the Irish Rebellion of 1798.
The minstrel boy to the war is gone,
In the ranks of death you’ll find him
His father’s sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him
“Land of Song!” cried the warrior bard,
(Should) “Tho’ all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!”
The Minstrel fell! But the foeman’s chain
Could not bring that proud soul under
The harp… The harp he loved ne’er spoke again,
For he tore its chords asunder
And said “No chains shall sully thee,
Thou soul of love and bravery!
Thy songs were made for the pure and free
They shall never sound in slavery!
My favorite Irish folksong is Boulevogue. Here are The High Kings singing this song about freedom from the Rebellion of 1798.
I am pretty sure the Duffy’s were with Father Murphy. Otherwise I would not become so emotional whenever I hear this song. “God grant you glory brave Father Murphy…”
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.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day.