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
(1) 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 Generva 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.
The British had a prison at New Geneva, or Geneva Barracks, near Passage, County Waterford.
A Centenary Ode, 1898.
Still forms, grey dust, black stones in Dublin city,
A grave in green Kildare,
And many a grassy mound that moves our pity
O’er Erin everywhere;
Cave Hill above the Lagan’s noises rearing
Her shaggy head in pride;
Lone Ednavady’s brow and Antrim staring
Across Lough Neagh’s rough tide;
Killala still her weary watch maintaining
Beside the ocean’s boom,
And Castlebar in faithful guard remaining
Around the Frenchmen’s tomb.
Ross, Wexford, Gorey, Oulart, Tubberneering,
And many a Wicklow glen
That knew the dauntless souls and hearts unfearing
Of Dwyer and all his men –
These, through a hundred years of gloom and doubting
Speak trumpet-toned to-day,
Above the cry of creed and faction’s shouting
To tread the olden way.
These, in the hearts of all the true men, waken
The olden fires anew;
These tell of hope unquenched and faith unshaken,
Of something still to do.
They bring us visions, full of tears and sorrow,
Of homes and hearts left lone;
Of eyes grown dim with watching for a morrow
Of joy that never shone.
But, too, they whisper notes of preparation
And strength beyond the seas,
Of hope outliving night and desolation
Through all the centuries.
Then to the staff-head let our flag ascending,
Our fires on every hill
Tell to the nations of the earth attending
We wage the battle still –
Tell to the nations, though the grass is o’er them,
For many a weary year,
Our fathers’ souls still thrill the land that bore them,
Their spirit still is there.
And by their graves we swear this year of story
To battle side by side,
Till Freedom crowns with immemorial glory
The Cause for which they died.
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.
Fuair Edward Bunting an t-amhrán seo i gCúige Chonnacht. Deirtear gur thaitin an fonn le Máire Nic Reachtain, deirfiúr Henry Joe McCracken, a crochadh freisin.
Is ar an mbaile seo chonaic sibh an t-ionadh
Ar Dhonncha Bán is é á dhaoradh,
Bhí caipín bán air in áit a hata,
Is róipín cnáibe in áit a charabhata.
Tá mé ag teacht ar feadh na hoíche
Mar bheadh uainín i measc seilbh mhóir caorach,
Mo bhrollach foscailte ‘s mo cheann liom scaoilte,
‘S cá bhfaighinn mo dheartháirín romham ach sínte!
Chaoin mé an chéad dreas ag gob a’ locha,
‘S an dara dreas ag bun do chroiche,
An tríú dreas ag ceann do choirp-se,
I measc na nGall ‘s mo cheann á scoilteadh.
Dá mbeifeá agamsa san áit ar chóir duit,
Thíos i Sligeach nó i mBaile an Róba,
Bhrisfí an chroch, ghearrfaí an rópa,
‘S ligfí Donncha Bán abhaile ar an eolas.
A Dhonncha Bháin níorbh é an chroch ba dhual duit,
Ach dul chuig an scioból ‘s d’easair a bhualadh,
An céachta d’iompú, deiseal’s tuathal
‘S an taobh dhearg den fhód a chur in uachtar.
A Dhonncha Bháin, a dheartháirín dílis,
Is maith atá ‘s agam siúd a bhain díom thú;
Ag ól an chupáin, ag deargadh an phíopa
‘S ag siúl an drúchta le com na hoíche.
A Mhic Uí Mhultháin, a sciúrsa an mhí-ádh
Ní lao bó bradaí a bhí in mo dheartáir,
Ach buachaillín cruinn-deas ar chnoc ‘s ar chnocán
A bhainfeadh fuaim go bog binn as camán.
‘S a Dhonncha Bháin nach é sin an buaireadh
Agus ‘fheabhas is d’iomprófá spoir is buatais!
Chuirfinn éadach faiseanta ort, den éadach ba bhuaine,
Agus chuirfinn amach thú mar mhac duine uasial.
A Mhic Uí Mhultháin! ná raibh do chlann mhac i bhfochair a chéile,
Ná do chlann iníon ag iarraidh spré ort!
Tá dhá cheann an chláir folamh, ‘s an t-urlár líonta,
Is Donncha Bán, mo dheartháirín, sínte.
Tá spré Dhonncha Bháin ag tíocht abhaile
Agus ní ba, caoirigh é ná capaill,
Ach tobac ‘s píopaí ‘s coinnle geala,
‘S ní dá mhaíomh é ar lucht a gcaite.
(Air: The Wearin’ o’ the Green)
Leo Casey (1846-1870) was proud of the efforts made by the United Irishmen of Longford and Westmeath in 1798. The "Singing River" is the Inny which flows into the Shannon from his native area between Mullingar and Ballymahon. He wrote many songs, including "Máire My Girl" and was active in the Fenian Brotherhood. By coincidence, his birthday was 22nd August, the same as General Humbert’s and the date Humbert landed at Killala, in 1798. He died when he was only 23 as a result of the rigours of imprisonment. It is said that 50,000 people marched in his funeral procession in Dublin and that 150,000 more looked on. Thousands walked to Dublin from Longford, Westmeath and Roscommon to pay their respects.
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 (Leo)
Bobby Sands was the parliamentary representative for Fermanagh and South Tyrone when he died in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh prison, on 5th May, 1981 after 66 days of hunger-strike.
The very last words of his diary, dated Tuesday 17th March, 1981, read as follows: "If they aren’t able to destroy the desire for freedom, they won’t break you. They won’t break me because the desire for freedom, and the freedom of the Irish people, is in my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom to show. It is then we’ll see the rising of the moon."
The humble home in dead of night,
A flitting shadow fled,
The yellow moon caught sharpened pike,
Where the night shades danced and played.
A bramble clawed at trembling hand,
And a night owl watched unseen,
Through bog and glen a United man,
Marched out to win a dream.
Cold black water lashed and splashed,
And played round a tattered reed,
By dying fire a woman prayed,
That the Gael might but succeed.
The silver nails of a rugged boot,
Scarred a lonely lifeless stone,
‘Cross rambling hill he marched afoot
To fight along with Tone.
Six days he fought,
Midst dying piles of gory mutilated heroes,
And the English cannon roared.
Upon the ghosts of Celtic bones,
A nation’s blood was poured.
Thousands fell in screaming bloody terror,
Whilst the informer hid cowering close by,
But there were none left amongst that bloody fray,
To hear the woman cry.
Thomas Russell, of County Cork, bosom friend and devoted comrade of Tone and Emmet, organised County Down for the United Irishmen in 1795. One night he entered an inn or tavern in Killyleagh, where a number of local men were gathered. They were United Irishmen, but Russell didn’t know it, and they didn’t know him or why he was there. One of them, long years after, tells of that night, and tells where and under what circumstances he saw Russell again. The Warwick mentioned in the poem was a young Republican Presbyterian Minister who was hanged at Newtownards. Thomas Russell was hanged on 21st 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
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