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Historical ballad poetry of Ireland; online

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The fosse is filled, the batteries plied.

Can the Irishmen that onset bide

At the city of Luimneach linn-ghlas ?

1 Luimneach linn-ghlas = Limerick of the Azure River.

M



178 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

Across the ditch the columns dash,
Their bayonets o'er the rubbish flash,
When sudden comes a rending crash
From the city of Luimneach linn-ghlas.

in
Then hurrah ! . . .

The bullets rain in pelting shower,

And rocks and beams from wall and tower.

The Englishmen are glad to cower

At the city of Luimneach linn-ghlas.
But, rallied soon, again they pressed,
Their bayonets pierced full many a breast,
Till they bravely won the breach's crest

At the city of Luimneach linn-ghlas.

IV

Yet hurrah ! . . .

Then fiercer grew the Irish yell,
And madly on the foe they fell,
Till the breach grew like the jaws of hell-
Not the city of Luimneach linn-ghlas.
The women fought before the men ;
Each man became a match for ten,
So back they pushed the villains then
From the city of Luimneach linn-ghlas.

v
Then, hurrah ! . . .

But Bradenbourg the ditch has crossed
And gained our flank at little cost
The bastions gone the town is lost ;

Oh ! poor city of Luimneach linn-ghlas.
When sudden Sarsfield springs the mine ;
Like rockets rise the Germans fine,
And come down dead mid smoke and shine

At the city of Luimneach linn-ghlas.



THE FOURTH PERIOD 179

VI

So, hurrah . . .

Out with a roar the Irish sprung,
And back the beaten English flung,
Till William fled, his lords among

From the city of Luimneach linn-ghlas.
"Twas thus was fought that glorious fight
By Irishmen for Ireland's right
May all such days have such a night

As the battle of Luimneach linn-ghlas.



1690

WILLIAM'S FLIGHT FROM LIMERICK
BY ERIONNAH

After the repulse on August 27, William withdrew his army, marched them
Into winter quarters, and himself went over to England.



WILLIAM came in grand array
All the way from Dublin Bay,
Swearing Sarsfield he would slay

Or hunt him out in the morning !
O, when gallant Sarsfield heard of that
O'er his head he waved his hat,
To his good horse he gave a pat,
And spoke full proud and scorning.

Chorus.

Then hurray, hurray ! for Freedom's fray
Flashing pikes and banners gay,
And oh ! by Sarsfield's side to stay
And charge with him in the morning.



180 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

ii

" Well for him he were away,

Back again by Dublin Bay,

Or that in some Dutch fog he lay

Before that welcome morning.
Now he is come to make us fly ;
Strong he is, and if he try
We must run but Saints on high !

'Twill be after him in the morning ! "
Then hurray, etc.



m

William pitched his camp before
Limerick town by Shannon's shore ;
He vowed " 'twill run all red with gore

Of the Irish in the morning ! "
But our Sarsfield took his fiery course
With his gay and gallant force
' Come on," he said, " my Lucan horse,

We'll give him a gentle warning ! "
Then hurray, etc.



IV

Right on they dashed on William's rear,
Slew his guards, blew up his gear,
Till every mountain quaked with fear

And English hearts with mourning.
But William's guns fired on the town,
Limerick's walls came tumbling down
"Now, now," he cried, with an angry frown,

" We'll pay him back his warning ! "
Yet hurray, etc.



THE FOURTH PERIOD 181

v

Quick they mounted o'er rne wall
Down they came with a quicker fall !
" O cowards cowards cowards all ! " *

Cried their King with fury burning,
For our Irish swords were far too bright-
William fled at the dead of night
O, they feared to wait for broad daylight
And meet our men in the morning !

Then hurray, hurray ! for Freedom's fray.

Flashing pikes and banners gay !

And oh, by Sarsfield's side to stay,

And charge with him in the morning !

August 27, 1690

THE BLACKSMITH OF LIMERICK *
BY ROBERT DWYER JOYCE

HE grasped his ponderous hammer, he could not stand
it more,
To hear the bombshells bursting, and the thundering battle's

roar ;
He said " The breach they're mounting, the Dutchman's

murdering crew
I'll try my hammer on their heads and see what that can do !

" Now swarthy Ned and Moran, make up that iron well ;
'Tis Sarsfield's horse that wants the shoes, so mind not shot

or shell ; "
" Ah, sure," cried both, " the horse can wait for Sarsfield's

on the wall,
And where you go we'll follow, with you to stand or fall ! "

1 William is said to have reproached his men for cowardice and to have
envied Sarsfleld his handful of gallant Irish.

Irish Minstrelsy (Walter Scott), p. 22 (Walter Scott Publishing Co.).



182 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

The blacksmith raised his hammer and rushed into the street,
His 'prentice boys behind him, the ruthless foe to meet
High on the breach of Limerick, with dauntless hearts they

stood,
Where the bombshells burst, and shot fell thick, and redly

ran the blood.

" Now look you, brown-haired Moran, and mark you, swarthy

Ned,
This day we'll prove the thickness of many a Dutchman's

head !

Hurrah ! upon their bloody path they're mounting gallantly ;
And now, the first that tops the breach, leave him to this and

me!"

The first that gained the rampart, he was a captain brave !
A captain of the Grenadiers, with blood-stained dirk and

glaive ;

He pointed and he parried, but it was all in vain,
For fast through skull and helmet the hammer found his

brain !

The next that topped the rampart, he was a colonel bold,
Bright through the murk of battle his helmet flashed with

gold

" Gold is no match for iron ! " the doughty blacksmith said,
As with that ponderous hammer he cracked his foeman's

head !

" Hurrah for gallant Limerick ! " black Ned and Moran cried,
As on the Dutchmen's leaden heads their hammers well they

plied ;

A bombshell burst between them one fell without a groan,
One leaped into the lurid air and down the breach was thrown !



THE FOURTH PERIOD 183

" Brave smith ! brave smith ! " cried Sarsfield, " beware the
treacherous mine

Brave smith ! brave smith ! fall backward, or surely death
is thine ! "

The smith sprang up the rampart and leaped the blood-
stained wall

As high into the shuddering air went f oemen breach and all !

Up like a red volcano they thundered wild and high,
Spear, gun and shattered standard, and foemen thro' the sky ;
And dark and bloody was the shower that round the black-
smith fell
He thought upon his 'prentice boys, they were avenged well !

On foemen and defenders a silence gathered down,

'Twas broken by a triumph-shout that shook the ancient

town ;

As out its heroes sallied, and bravely charged and slew
And taught King William and his men what Irish hearts can

do!

Down rushed the swarthy blacksmith unto the river's side.
He hammered on the foe's pontoon, to sink it in the tide ;
The timber it was tough and strong, it took no crack or strain
" Mavrone, 'twon't break," the blacksmith cried, "I'll try
their heads again ! "



The blacksmith sought his smithy and blew his bellows strong,
He shod the steed of Sarsfield, but o'er it sang no song :
" Ochon ! my boys are dead," he cried, " their loss I'll long

deplore,
But comfort's in my heart, their graves are red with foreign

gore!"



184 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND



1691
A BALLAD OF ATHLONE (2ND SIEGE) ;

OR, HOW THEY BROKE DOWN THE BRIDGE

BY AUBREY DE VERB

When the war was renewed Ginkle besieged Athlone, which was held by
St. Ruth. The gallant action described in the poem, only delayed the taking
of the town a short while.

DOES any man dream that a Gael can fear ?
Of a thousand deeds let him learn but one I
The Shannon swept onward broad and clear,
Between the leaguers and broad Athlone.

" Break down the bridge ! " Six warriors rushed
Through the storm of shot and the storm of shell :

With late but certain victory flushed

The grim Dutch gunners eyed them well.

They wrench'd at the planks 'mid a hail of fire :
They fell in death, their work half done :

The bridge stood fast ; and nigh and nigher
The foe swarmed darkly, densely on.

" 0, who for Erin will strike a stroke ?

Who hurl yon planks where the waters roar ? "
Six warriors forth from their comrades broke,

And flung them upon that bridge once more.

Again at the rocking planks they dashed ;

And four dropped dead ; and two remained :
The huge beams groaned, and the arch down-crashed;

Two stalwart swimmers the margin gained.



THE FOURTH PERIOD 185

St. Ruth in his stirrups stood up, and cried,
" I have seen no deed like that in France ! "

With a toss of his head, Sarsfield replied,

" They had luck, the dogs ! 'Twas a merry chance ! "

many a year upon Shannon's side

They sang upon moor and they sang upon heath

Of the twain that breasted that raging tide,

And the ten that shook bloody hands with Death !

July, 1691

AFTER THE BATTLE (OF AUGHRIM)
BY THOMAS MOORE

Athlone fell. St. Ruth retreated to Aughrim (in Galway), where on July
12 a decisive battle was fought. St. Ruth was slain, and the Irish utterly
defeated. No quarter was given by the English, so that the battle ended in
wholesale and horrible slaughter.

NIGHT closed around the conqueror's way,
And lightnings showed the distant hill,
Where those who lost that dreadful day
Stood few and faint but fearless still !
The soldier's hope, the patriot's zeal,

For ever dimmed, for ever crossed
Oh ! who shall say what heroes feel,
When all but life and honour's lost.

The last sad hour of Freedom's dream

And valour's task moved slowly by,
While mute they watched, till morning's beam

Should rise and give them light to die.
There's yet a world where souls are free,

Where tyrants taint not nature's bliss ;
If death that world's bright opening be :

Oh ! who wou d live a s ave in this ?



186 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

FORGET NOT THE FIELD
BY THOMAS MOORE

FORGET not the field where they perished-
The truest, the last of the brave
All gone and the bright hopes we cherished
Gone with them and quenched in the grave.

Oh ! could we from death but recover
Those hearts as they bounded before,

In the face of high Heaven to fight over
The combat for freedom once more ;



Could the chain for a moment be riven
Which Tyranny flung round us then

No ! 'tis not in man nor in Heaven,
To let Tyranny bind it again !



But 'tis past ; and though blazoned in story
The name of our victor may be ;

Accurst is the march of that glory

Which treads o'er the hearts of the free.



Far dearer the grave or the prison
Illumed by one patriot name,

Than the trophies of all who have risen
On Liberty's ruins to fame.



THE FOURTH PERIOD 187

1691

THE TREATY STONE OF LIMERICK
ANON.

After Aughrim the Irish retreated to Limerick, and the second siege began
on August 25, 1G!)1. On September 22 Limerck fell.

The Treaty of Limerick was signed on October 3 by Sarsfleld and the Lords
Justices. By it the Catholics were to be restored to the estates, risrhts and
privileges they had enjoyed in the reign of Charles II. All the soldiers who
had taken part in the war were to be allowed a free passage to France with
their wives and families.

" The violation of this Treaty and the subsequent enactment of the Penal
Laws is one of the most disgraceful chapters in the history of Protestantism.'
Standish O'Grady.

THE Treaty-Stone of Limerick 1 what mem'ries of the
past
Flashed through my soul, when first on it mine eyes I fondly

cast !

To see it proudly standing by the lordly Shannon's flood,
And think that there for centuries the grey old stone had

stood '

How breathless did I listen while my fancy heard it tell
Of all that erst, 'mid strife and storm, the olden town befel ;
Since proud Le Gros' bold kinsman crossed the azure stream

alone,
Til Chateau Renaud's 1 frigates weighed beside the Treaty

Stone.

The Treaty Stone of Limerick I the monument unbuilt
Of Irish might, and Irish right and Saxon shame and guilt
That saw the Prince of Orange the siege obliged to raise
And leave his wounded Brandenburgs to perish in the blaze,
When the storied maids and matrons rushed fearless on the

foe,
At the breach where fell their kinsmen, by the side of Boisse-

leau;

1 CMteau-Renaud was in command of the French naval force sent by Louis
XIV in 1691 to aid the Iri^h. He arrived after the Treaty of Limerick had
b^n signed, but the Irish, faithful to their engagement, refused to renew the
war.



188 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

That saw the vet'ran conqueror of Aughrim and Athlone
Forced to comply with D'Usson's terms the aged Treaty
Stone.

The Treaty Stone of Limerick ! the ancient city's pride,
That oft rang loud with clash of steel, and oft with blood was

dyed;
That saw the hope of Lucan's Earl 1 his own unconquer'd

band
With stern resolve but broken hearts around it take their

stand.

That saw him sign the Treaty, and saw him sign in vain ;
For shamefully 'twas broken, ere the Wild Geese 2 reached

the main.

That witnessed the departure and heard the wild Ochone
As Louis' ships dropped down the tide that washed the Treaty

Stone.

The Treaty Stone of Limerick ! that oft, with magic charm,
Lit up in wrath the Irish heart, and nerv'd the Irish arm.
What hewed, in scores, at Fontenoy, King George's cohorts

down,
But burning thoughts of thee and home the treaty-riven

town ?
And oh ! how Sarsfield's great heart throbb'd, on Landen's

bloody field,
That fast for thee, for fatherland, his life-stream he could

yield.
Thrice holier than the treasure robb'd by England's King

from Scone,
Is the glory of old Luimeneach the hallowed Treaty Stone !

i Toucan's Earl was Sarsfleld, who was ennobled by James II.

The Wild Geese were the Irish on the continent of Europe during the
eighteenth century, and chiefly those who sailed from Ireland after the Treaty
of Limerick Was broken.



THE FOURTH PERIOD 189

THE DEATH OF SARSFIELD
BY THOMAS DAVIS

" And so, in all that splendid and tragic array (i.e. of Ireland's champions)
there is no name more cherished than that of Patrick Sarsfleld, there is no
figure more truly heroic, there is no man who achieved less." Stephen
Gwynn Sarsfleld in Studies in Irish History.



SARSFIELD has sailed from Limerick town,
He held it long for country and crown ;
And ere he yielded the Saxon swore
To spoil our homes and our shrines no more.



ii

Sarsfield, and all his chivalry

Are fighting for France in the Low Countrie

At his fiery charge the Saxons reel,

They learned at Limerick to dread his stee .



in

Sarsfield is dying on Landen's plain,

His corslet hath met the ball in vain

As his life-blood gushes into his hand

He says : "Oh, that this were for fatherland.'



rv

Sarsfield is dead yet no tears shed we,
For he died in the arms of Victory ;
And his dying words shall edge the brand
When we chase the foe from our native land !



190 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

1691

THE IRISH RAPPAREES
BY Sm CH. GAVAN DUFFY



Though the greater part of the Irish army and most of its officers left Ireland
and took service under Louis XIV in France, after the broken Treaty of
Limerick, some remained and led lives of reckless adventure, fighting for the
very right to live. These were the Rapparees.



RIGH SHEMUS 1 he has gone to France and left his
crown behind :

111 luck be theirs both day and night put runn'n' in his mind I
Lord Lucan followed after with his slashers brave and true,
And now the doleful keen is raised " What will poor Ireland

do?

What must poor Ireland do ?

" Our luck," they say, " has gone to France what can poor
Ireland do ? "



Oh ! never fear for Ireland, for she has so'gers still,
For Rory's boys 2 are in the wood, and Remy's on the hill ;
And never had poor Ireland more loyal hearts than these
May God be kind and good to them, the faithful Rapparees 1

The fearless Rapparees !
The jewel were you Rory with your Irish Rapparees !

Oh ! black's your heart, Clan Oliver, and coulder than the clay.
Oh ! high's your head, Clan Sassanach, since Sarsfield's gone
away !



1 Righ Shemus was James II.

Rory's boys. The Rory in question was Redmond or Rory O'Hanlon,
who led the Tories or Rapparees In his day, and who was killed in 1681.



THE FOURTH PERIOD 191

It's little love you bear to us for sake of long ago,

But howld your hand, for Ireland still can str ke a deadly

blow

Can str ke a mortal blow
Och ! dhar-a-Chreesth / 'tis she that still could str ke the

deadly blow I

The master's bawn, the master's seat, a surly bodagh fills ;
The master's son, an outlawed man, is riding on the hills.
But God be praised, that round him throng, as thick as

summer bees,
The swords that guarded Limerick wall his loyal Rapparees !

His lovin' Rapparees !
Who dares say no to Rory Oge with all his Rapparees ?

Black Billy Grimes of Latnamard, he racked us long and

sore
God rest the faithful hearts he broke ! we'll never see them

more !
But I'll go bail he'll break no more while Imagh has gallows

trees,
For why ? he met, one lonesome night, the fearless

Rapparees !

The angry Rapparees I
They never sin no more, my boys, who cross the Rapparees !

Now, Sassanach and Cromweller, take heed of what I say
Keep down your black and angry looks that scorn us night

and day ;

For there's a just and wrathful Judge, that every action sees,
And He'll make strong to right our wrong, the faithful

Rapparees !

The fearless Rapparees !
The men that rode at Sarsfield's side, the roving Rapparees I



192 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

1697

THE PENAL DAYS
BY THOMAS DAVIS

England now tried to wipe out the Catholic religion altogether. " With
this intent a series of acts were passed during the reigns of Wilh'am and Anne,
by the Irish Parliament, which were of a character quite unparalleled, and
were in flagrant violation of the Treaty of Limerick." Walpole.

Poynings Act, we must not forget, made the Irish Parliament completely
dependent on the English. By these Penal Statutes Catholics could not get
then* children educated, they could not carry arms, the profession of the law
was closed to them, they could not marry Protestants, and all ecclesiastics
who were in correspondence with Rome were to be expelled. In George II's
reign eren more stringent laws were made against the unfortunate Catholics.

OH ! weep those days, the penal days,
When Ireland hopelessly complained :
Oh ! weep those days, the penal days,
When godless persecution reigned ;
When, year by year,
For serf and peer,
Fresh cruelties were made by law,
And, filled with hate
Our senate sate

To weld anew each fetter's flaw.
Oh ! weep those days, those penal days
Their mem'ry still on Ireland weighs.

They bribed the flock, they bribed the son,

To sell the priest and rob the sire ;
Their dogs were taught alike to run
Upon the scent of wolf and friar.
Among the poor,
Or, on the moor,
Were hid the pious and the true
While traitor knave,
And recreant slave,
Had riches, rank and retinue;
And, exiled in those penal days,
Our banners over Europe blaze.



THE FOURTH PERIOD 193

A stranger held the land and tower

Of many a noble fugitive ;
No Popish lord had lordly power,
The peasant scarce had leave to live
Above his head
A ruined shed,

No tenure but a tyrant's will,
Forbid to plead,
Forbid to read,

Disarm'd, disfranchis'd, imbecile
What wonder if our step betrays
The freedman, born in penal days ?



They're gone, they're gone, those penal days !

All creeds are equal in our isle ;
Then grant, Lord, Thy plenteous grace
Our ancient feuds to reconcile.
Let all atone
For blood and groan,
For dark revenge and open wrong
Let all unite
For Ireland's right,

And drown our griefs in Freedom's song 3
Till time shall veil in twilight haze,
The memory of those Penal days.



194 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

1745*

FONTENOY
BY THOMAS DAVIS

After the breaking of the Treaty of Limerick the greater number of the
Irish chieftains and soldiers left Ireland, and took service under foreign kings.
They were always distinguished by their bravery. The battle of Fontenoy
(in Belgium) was fought on May 11, 1745, between the English and Dutch
on one side, and the French, aided by the Irish exiles, on the other. The Duke
of Cumberland commanded the English and Dutch, Marshal Saxe the French.
Prominent leaders among the Irish were Lord Clare (O'Brien of Thorn ond)
Dillon and Colonel Lally. The Irish contributed greatly to the victory of
Saxe. The day after the battle they were specially thanked by Louis XV.

THRICE at the huts of Fontenoy, the English column
failed,

And, twice, the lines of Saint Antoine, the Dutch in vain
assailed ;

For town and slope were filled with fort, and flanking battery,

And well they swept the English ranks and Dutch auxiliary.

As vainly, through De Barri's wood, 1 the British soldiers
burst,

The French artillery drove them back diminished and dis-
persed.

The bloody Duke of Cumberland beheld with anxious eye,

And ordered up his last reserve, his latest chance to try.

On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, how fast his general's ride !

And mustering come his chosen troops, like clouds at eventide.

Six thousand English veterans in stately column tread,
Their cannon blaze in front and flank Lord Hay is at their

head ;
Steady they step adown the slope steady they climb the

hill;
Steady they load, steady they fire, moving right onward

still,

Betwixt the wood and Fontenoy, as through a furnace blast,
Through rampart, trench and palisade, and bullets showering

fast ;

1 De Barri'a Wood was on the left of the French position, St. Antoine on
the rurht.



THE FOURTH PERIOD 1C5

And on the open plain above they rose and kept their course,
With ready fire and grim resolve that mocked at hostile force :
Past Fontenoy, past Fontenoy, while thinner grew their

ranks
They break, as broke the Zuyder Zee through Holland's ocean

banks.

More idly than the summer flies, French tirailleurs rush round ;
As stubble to the lava tide, French squadrons strew the

ground
Bomb-shell and grape and round-shot tore, still on they

marched and fired

Fast from each volley grenadier and voltigeur retired.
" Push on, my household cavalry ! " King Louis madly cried ;
To death they rush, but rude their shock not unavenged

they died.
On through the camp the column trod King Louis turns

his rein.
" Not yet, my liege," Saxe interposed, " the Irish troops

remain " ;

And Fontenoy, famed Fontenoy, had been a Waterloo
Were not these exiles ready then, fresh, vehement and true.

" Lord Clare," he says, " you have your wish, there are your

Saxon foes ! "

The Marshal almost smiles to see, so furiously he goes !
How fierce the look these exiles wear, who're wont to be so

gay,

The treasured wrongs of fifty years are in their hearts to-day
The treaty broken, e'er the ink wherewith 'twas writ could



Their plundered homes, their ruined shrines, their women's

parting cry,
Their priesthood, hunted down like wolves, their country

overthrown



196 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

Each looks as if revenge for all were staked on him alone.
On Fontenoy ! on Fontenoy ! nor ever yet elsewhere,
Rushed on to fight a nobler band than these proud exiles
were.

O'Brien's voice is hoarse with joy, as, halting, he commands,
" Fix bay'nets " " Charge ! " Like mountain storm, rush

on these fiery bands !

Thin is the English column now, and faint their volleys grow,
Yet, must 'ring all the strength they have, they make a gallant

show.

They dress their ranks upon the hill to face that battle wind
Their bayonets the breaker's foam, like rocks the men behind.
One volley crashes from their line, when, through the surging

smoke,
With empty guns clutched in their hands the headlong Irish

broke.

On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, hark to that fierce Huzza !
" Revenge ! remember Limerick ! dash down the Sassanagh ! "

Like lions leaping at a fold, when mad with hunger's pang,
Right up against the English line, the Irish exiles sprang :
Bright was their steel, 'tis bloody now, their guns are filled

with gore ;
Through shattered ranks, and severed files, and trampled

flags they tore ;
The English strove with desperate strength, paused, rallied,

staggered, fled

The green hillside is matted close with dying and with dead ;
Across the plain and far away passed on that hideous wrack,
While cavalier and fantassin dash in upon their track.
On Fontenoy ! on Fontenoy ! like eagles in the sun,
With bloody plumes the Irish stand the field is fought and

Won !



THE FIFTH PERIOD

FKOM THE JACOBITE REBELLION, 1745, TO


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