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Historical ballad poetry of Ireland; online

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THE FIFTH PERIOD

From the Jacobite Rebellion, 1745, to Modern Times

1782

THE ARMS OF EIGHTY-TWO 1
BY M. J. BARRY

" Then England fell into difficulties (the American War). There was dan-
ger that Ireland would be invaded by foreign enemies. The Irish gentry
sprang to arms. . . . These were the celebrated Irish Volunteers. No
enemy, indeed, attacked the island, but the gentry, feeling their strength, and
feeling also the generous glow of patriotism, resolved to convert their Par-
liament into a reality. Henry Grattan's wonderful eloquence fanned the
flame, and the result was the declaration of Irish National Independence in
1782." Story of Ireland, by Standish O'Grady.

THEY rose to guard their fatherland
In stern resolve they rose,
In bearing firm, in purpose grand,

To meet the world as foes.
They rose, as brave men ever do ;
And flashing bright
They bore to light
The arms of " Eighty-two ! "

O ! 'twas a proud and solemn sight

To mark that broad array
Come forth to claim a nation's right

'Gainst all who dared gainsay ;
And despots shrunk, appalled to view
The men who bore
From shore to shore
The arms of " Eighty-two ! "

* Irish Minstrelsy (Walter Scott), page 70.
199



200 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

They won her right they passed away

Within the tomb they rest
And coldly lies the mournful clay

Above each manly breast ;
But Ireland still may proudly view
What that great host
Had cherished most,
The arms of " Eighty-two ! "

Time-honoured comrades of the brave-
Fond relics of their fame,
Does Ireland hold one coward slave

Would yield you up to shame ?
One dastard who would tamely view
The alien's hand
Insulting brand
The arms of " Eighty-two ? "

GRATTAN
BY AUBEEY DE VERB

From 1690 to 1760 the Irish Catholics suffered one of the severest legal per-
secutions known to history. Disarmed, hunted, completely cowed by the
Penal laws, they made no attempt during all that time to better their con-
dition. ... In 1761 and the years following there were several attempts at
Agrarian risings, which, however, brought no relief. There is no glimpse of
light till we reach the figure of Henry Grattan. Though a Protestant and a
member of the Irish Parliament, he was one of Ireland's, and of Catholic
Ireland's, greatest champions.

GOD works through man, not hills or snows !
In man, not men, is the god-like power ;
The man, God's potentate, God foreknows ;

He sends him strength at the destined hour;
His Spirit He breathes into one deep heart !
His cloud He bids from one mind depart :
A Saint ! and a race is to God re-born !
A Man ! one man makes a nation's morn !



THE FIFTH PERIOD 201

A man, and the blind land by slow degrees

Gains sight ! A man, and the deaf land hears !
A man, and the dumb land like waking seas

Thunders low dirges in proud dull ears !
A man, and the People, a three days' corse,
Stands up and the grave-bands fall off perforce ;
One man and the nation in height a span
To the measure ascends of the perfect man.

Thus wept unto God the land of Eire :

Yet there rose no man and her hope was dead :
In the ashes she sat of a burned-out fire ;

And sackcloth was over her queenly head.
But a man in her latter days arose,
A Deliverer stepp'd from the camp of her foes.
He spake ; the great and the proud gave way,
And the dawn began which shall end in day.



1782

THE DUNGANNON CONVENTION
BY THOMAS DAVIS

This Convention summoned by Lord Charlemont to meet In the old Pres-
byterian Church at Dungannan, in County Tyrone, passed resolutions amount-
ing in effect to a Declaration of National Independence. " Two hundred
and forty-two delegates, the representatives of one hundred and forty -three
volunteer corps, mostly from the province of Ulster, met in full uniform."



THE Church of Dungannon is full to the door,
And sabre and spur clash at times on the floor,
While helmet and shako are ranged all along,
Yet no book of devotion is seen in the throng.
In the front of the altar no minister stands,
But the crimson-clad chief of the warrior bands ;



202 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

And though solemn the looks and the voices around,
You'd listen in vain for a litany's sound.
Say ! what do they hear in the temple of prayer ?
Oh ! why in the fold has the lion his lair ?

ii

Sad, wounded and wan was the face of our isle
By English oppression and falsehood and guile,
Yet when to invade it a foreign fleet steered
To guard it for England the North volunteered.
From the citizen-soldiers the foe fled aghast
Still they stood to their guns when the danger had past,
For the voice of America came o'er the wave
Crying Woe to the tyrant, and hope to the slave !
Indignation and shame through their regiments speed,
They have arms in their hands, and what more do they need ?

ni

O'er the green hills of Ulster their banners are spread.
The cities of Leinster resound to their tread,
The valleys of Munster with ardour are stirred,
And the plains of wild Connaught their bugles have heard.
A Protestant front rank and Catholic rere
For forbidden the arms of freemen to bear
Yet foemen and friend are full sure, if need be,
The slave for his country will stand by the free.
By green flag supported, the Orange flags wave,
And the soldier half turns to unfetter the slave !

IV

More honoured that Church of Dungannon is now
Than when at its altar Communicants bow ;
More welcome to Heaven than anthem or prayer
Are the rights and the thoughts of the warriors there :



THE FIFTH PERIOD 203

In the name of all Ireland the delegates swore :

" We've suffered too long and we'll suffer no more

Unconquered by force, we were vanquished by fraud,

And now, in God's temple, we vow unto God,

That never again shall the Englishman bind

His chains on our limbs, or his laws on our mind."



v

The Church of Dungannon is empty once more

No plumes on the altar, no clash on the floor,

But the counsels of England are fluttered to see,

In the cause of their country, the Irish agree ;

So they give as a boon what they dare not withhold,

And Ireland, a nation, leaps up as of old.

With a name, and a trade, and a flag of her own,

And an army to fight for the people and throne.

But woe worth the day if, to falsehood or fears,

She surrender the guns of her brave volunteers.



1782

SONG OF THE VOLUNTEERS OF 1782
BY THOMAS DAVIS

HURRAH ! 'tis done our freedom's won.
Hurrah ! for the Volunteers !
No laws we own, but those alone

Of our Commons, King, and Peers.
The chain is broke the Saxon yoke

From off our neck is taken ;
Ireland awoke Dungannon spoke
With fear was England shaken.



204 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

When Grattan rose, none dared oppose

The claim he made for Freedom :
They knew our swords, to back his words

Were ready, did he need them.
Then let us raise to Grattan's praise

A proud and joyous anthem ;
And wealth and grace and length of days,

May God in mercy grant him.

Bless Harry Flood, who nobly stood

By us through gloomy years !
Bless Charlemont the brave and good,

The Chief of the Volunteers !
The North began : the North held on

The strife for native land ;
Till Ireland rose, and cowed her foes

God bless the Northern land 1

And bless the men of patriot pen

Swift Molyneux and Lucas.
Bless sword and gun which ''Free Trade" won

Bless God ! Who ne'er forsook us.
And long may last the friendship fast

Which binds us all together ;
While we agree our foes shall flee

Like clouds in stormy weather.

Remember still, through good and^ill

How vain were prayers and tears
How vain were words till flashed the swords

Of the Irish Volunteers.
By Arms we've got the rights we sought

Through long and wretched years
Hurrah ! 'tis done, our Freedom's won

Hurrah ! for the Volunteers.



THE FIFTH PERIOD 205

1796

THE SHAN VAN VOCHT 1
ANON

Wolfe Tone, the originator and leader of the United Irishmen, went over to
France in 1796 and succeeded in persuading General Hoche to accompany
him back to Ireland. Hoche sailed with 43 vessels and 15,000 troops, but
contrary winds prevailed ; they could not effect a landing, abandoned the
expedition, and returned to France.

The advent of Lord Fitzwilliam as Lord Lieutenant in January, 1795, caused
great joy in Ireland, and all minds were filled with hope and expectation of
complete emancipation for the Catholics. Grattan brought in a Bill for the
admission of Catholics to Parliament. But Lord Fitzwilliam was recalled
in February and the " bill hopelessly lost, and all the elements of rebellion
and disaffection at once began to seethe and ferment again. The rising of
four years later dated from this decision, and was almost as directly due to it
as if the latter had been planned with that object." Ireland, by Emily
Lawless. The avowed object of the United Irishmen after this was to make
Ireland a republic.

O! THE French are on the sea,
Says the Shan Van Vocht \
The French are on the sea,

Says the Shan Van Vocht ;

! the French are in the bay,

They'll be here without delay,

And the Orange will decay,

Says the Shan Van Vocht.

Chorus.

O, the French are in the Bay,
They'll be here by break of day,
And the Orange will decay,
Says the Shan Van Vocht.

And their camp it shall be where ?

Says the Shan Van Vocht ;
Their camp it shall be where ?

Says the Shan Van Vocht,

t Irish Minstrelsy (Walter Scott), page 13.



206 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

On the Curragh of Kildare
The boys they will be there
With their pikes in good repair,
Says the Shan Van Vocht.

To the Curragh of Kildare
The boys they will repair,
And Lord Edward will be there,
Says the Shan Van Vocht.

Then what will the yeomen l do ?

Says the Shan Van Vocht ;
What mil the yeomen do,

Says the Shan Van Vocht ;
What should the yeomen do

But throw off the red and blue,
And swear that they'll be true
To the Shan Van Vocht.

What should the yeomen do
But throw off the red and blue,
And swear that they'll be true
To the Shan Van Vocht ?

And what colour will they wear ?

Says the Shan Van Vocht ;
What colour will they wear ?
Says the Shan Van Vocht;
What colour should be seen
Where our fathers' homes have been
But our own immortal green,
Says the Shan Van Vocht.

What colour should be seen
Where our fathers' homes have been
But our own immortal green,
Says the SJmn Van Vocht.

1 The Yeomen were Irish troops, mostly Oranpreinen, and raised to cope
with the United Irishmen. They were often guilty of revolting atrocities,
often on unoffending Catholics.



THE FIFTH PERIOD 207

And will Ireland then be free ?

Says the Shan Van Vocht ;
Will Ireland then be free ?

Says the Shan Van Vocht ;
Yes, Ireland shall be free
From the centre to the sea,
Then hurra for Liberty !
Says the Shan Van Vocht.

Yes ! Ireland shall be free
From the centre to the sea,
Then hurra ! for Liberty,
Says the Shan Van Vocht.

THE WAKE OF WILLIAM ORR
BY WILLIAM DRENNAN (1754-1820)

William Orr was a Presbyterian farmer of the County Down, a man of
stainless character and much influence. He became a "United Irishman, and in
1797 was accused and convicted of having sworn into the Society two soldiers,
lie was sentenced to death and executed, though two of the convicting jury
swore that they were intoxicated when they gave their verdict. The exe-
cution after such a trial gave a great shock to public opinion, and Orr was
regarded as a martyr.

THERE our murdered brother lies ;
Wake him not with woman's cries ;
Mourn the way that manhood ought
Sit in silent trance of thought.

Write his merits on your mind ;
Morals pure and manners kind ;
In his head, as on a hill,
Virtue placed her citadel.

Why cut off in palmy youth ?
Truth he spoke and acted truth
" Countrymen, UNITE," he cried,
And died for what our Saviour died.



208 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

God of peace and God of love !
Let it not Thy vengeance move
Let it not Thy lightnings draw
A nation guillotined by law.

Hapless nation, rent and torn,
Thou wert early taught to mourn ;
Warfare of six hundred years !
Epochs marked with blood and tears !



Hapless Nation ! hapless Land !
Heap of uncementing sand !
Crumbled by a foreign weight ;
And by worse, domestic hate.

God of mercy ! God of peace !
Make this mad confusion cease ;
O'er the mental chaos move,
Through it SPEAK the light of love.



Here we watch our brother's sleep :
Watch with us, but do not weep.
Watch with us tlirough dead of night
But expect the morning light.

Conquer fortune persevere !
Lo ! it breaks, the morning clear !
The cheerful cock awakes the skies,
The day is come arise ! arise I



THE FIFTH PERIOD 209

1798

NINETY-EIGHT
A CENTENARY ODE

BY WILLIAM RODNEY

The betrayal and seizure of the leaders of the Rebellion just before the
rising had been planned to take place was the cause, not alone of its utter
failure, but of the character it assumed in many places. In the north the
United Irishmen were more or less organized, and their struggle, though brief,
was creditable. But in Wexford and elsewhere in the south, discipline and
order could scarcely have been expected of a leaderless peasantry, awakening
to an angry realization of the wrongs of centuries. One is horrified at the
atrocities committed, but one cannot feel surprised.

STILL forms, grey dust, black stones in Dublin city,
A grave in green Kildare, 1

A d many a grassy mound that moves our pity
O'er Erin everywhere ;

Cave Hill, 2 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



i Wolfe Tone's at Bodenstotrn.

Cave Hill, Belfast. Seen In certain aspects, the outline of this hill li
that of a huge face.



210 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

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 right 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 l

To battle side by side,
Till Freedom crowns with immemorial glory

The Cause for which they died.

1 1898.



THE FIFTH PERIOD 211

1798

THE WEARING OF THE GREEN 1

STREET BALLAD

O, PADDY, dear, and did you hear the news that's going
round ?

The shamrock is forbid by law to grow on Irish ground ;
St. Patrick's day no more we'll keep, his colours can't be

seen,

For there's a bloody law again the wearing of the green.
I met with Napper Tandy, 2 and he took me by the hand,
And he said, " How's poor old Ireland and how does she

stand ? "

She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen
They are hanging men and women for the wearing of the

green.

Then since the colour we must wear is England's cruel red,
Sure Ireland's sons will ne'er forget the blood that they have

shed.
You may take the shamrock from your hat and cast it on the

sod,
But 'twill take root and nourish there though under foot 'tis

trod.
When laws can stop the blades of grass from growing as they

grow,
And when the leaves in summer-time their verdure dare not

show,

Then I will change the colour that I wear in my caubeen,
But, till that day, please God, I'll stick to wearing of the

green.

1 Irish Minstrelsy (Walter Scott), page 8.

Napper Tandy was a Dublin merchant who joined the United Irishmen,
and being proscribed as such escaped to America in 1795. Thence, in 1798,
he made his way to France, and with a general's rank headed an abortive
French attack on Ireland the same year. In 1801, after three years' imprison-
ment, he was tried and sentenced to death, but was reprieved on condition
that he left the country. This he did, and died at Bordeaux in 1803.



212 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

1798

THE CROPPY BOY
BY CARROLL MALONB

" /^1 OOD men and true ! in this house who dwell

VJ 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 entered an empty hall
What a lonely sound has his light footfall 1
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 murmurs 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.



THE FIFTH PERIOD 213

"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 naught, but a rustling noise
Made the youth look up in wild surprise.
The robes were off, and in scarlet there
Sat a yeoman 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 and 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 ho'd 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 prayer and a tear for the Croppy Boy.



214 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

1798

MAIRIN-NI-OULLINAN

IRELAND'S LAMENT FOR LORD EDWARD

BY ETHNA CARBERY

Lord Edward Fitzgerald, brother of the Duke of Leinster, was the head of
the Rebellion of 1798. He had planned a general rising for May 24 in that
year, but before that time he was betrayed, surprised, and taken prisoner
after a struggle, during which he was wounded. He died shortly afterwards
from the effects of his wound.

High-minded, patriotic, chivalrously brave, no name In Irish history inspires
more passionate love and reverence than his.

T TNDERNEATH the shrouding stone,
\*J Where you lie in death alone,
Can you hear me calling, calling,
In a wild hot gush of woe ?
'Tis for you my tears are falling
For you mo Craoibhin Cuo !

When you stood up in the Green
As beseemed the Geraldine,
Slender sword a-glancing, glancing,
Over you the tender skies,
How the warrior- joy kept dancing
In your brave bright eyes.

" 'Stor" I said, " a stor mo chroidhe,
Hope of Mine and Hope of Me,
Take our honour to your keeping,
Bare your swift blade to the Dawn.
Freedom's voice hath roused from sleeping
Mairin-ni-Cu!hnan."

So I dreamt the Day had come,
Now your ardent lips are dumb,



THE FIFTH PERIOD 215

And the sword is rusty, rusty
Through a hundred weary years
A 1 the winds are blowing gusty
With a storm of tears.



" 'Stor" I cry, above your bed,
Where I kneel uncomforted
" Feel you not the battle-anger
Shake the Nations of the World ?
While amid the stress and clangour
Still my Flag is furled.

*' Were you here, 0, Geraldine,
This oblivion had not been."
Thus I mourn you, pining, pining,
For the gallant heart long gone,
Whose love was as a true star shining
To Mairm-m-Cullman.



THE GERALDINES
BY THOMAS DAVIS

THE Geraldines ! the Geraldines ! 'tis full a thousand
years

Since, 'mid the Tuscan 1 vineyards, bright flashed their battle-
spears ;
When Capet seized the crown of France, their iron shields

were known

And their sabre-dint struck terror on the banks of the
Garonne ;

The Geraldine family originally caine from Florence.



216 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

Across the downs of Hastings they spurred hard by William's
side,

And the grey sands of Palestine with Moslem blood they
dyed;

But never then, nor thence till now have falsehood or dis-
grace

Been seen to soil Fitzgerald's plume, or mantle in his face.

The Geraldines ! the Geraldines ! 'tis true, in Strongbow's

van,

By lawless force, as conquerors, their Irish reign began ;
But oh ! through many a dark campaign they proved their

prowess stern,
In Leinster's plains, and Munster's vales, on king and chief

and kerne ;

But noble was the cheer within the halls so rudely won,
And gen'rous was the steel-gloved hand that had such slaughter

done !
How gay their laugh ! how proud their mien ! you'd ask no

herald's sign
Among a thousand you had known the princely Geraldine.

These Geraldines ! these Geraldines ! not long our air they

breathed,

Not long they fed on venison, in Irish water seethed,
Not often had their children been by Irish mothers nursed,
When from their full and genial hearts an Irish feeling burst !

The English monarchs strove in vain, by law, and force, and
bribe,

To win from Irish thoughts and ways this " more than Irish "
tribe ;

For still they clung to fosterage, to brehon cloak, and bard :

What King dare say to Geraldine : " Your Irish wife dis-
card " ?



THE FIFTH PERIOD 217

Ye, Geraldines ! ye Geraldines ! how royally ye reigned
O'er Desmond broad and rich Kildare, and English arts

disdained :
Your sword made knights, your banner waved, free was your

bugle call
By Glyn's green slopes, and Dingle's tide from Barrow's banks

to Youghal.

What gorgeous shrines, what Brehon lore, what minstrel

feasts there were

In and around Maynooth's grey keep, and palace filled Adare,
But not for rite or feast ye stayed when friend or kin were

pressed,
And foemen fled when " Crom abu " bespoke your lance in

rest.

Ye Geraldines ! ye Geraldines, since Silken Thomas flung
King Henry's sword on council board, the English thanes

among,

Ye never ceased to battle brave against the English sway,
Though axe and brand and treachery, your proudest cut

away.

Of Desmond's blood through woman's veins passed on th*

exhausted tide ;

His title lives a Sassenach churl usurps the lion's hide :
And though Kildare tower haughtily, there's ruin at the root,
Else why, since Edward l fell to earth, had such a tree no
fruit?

True Geraldines ! brave Geraldines ! as torrents mould the

earth,
You channelled deep old Ireland's heart by constancy and

worth :

When Ginckle leaguercd Limerick, the Irish soldiers gazed
To see if in tLo setting sun dead Desmond's banner blazed I

Lord Edward Fitzgerald.



218 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND

And still it is the peasant's hope upon the Curragh's mere,
" They live who'll see ten thousand men with good Lord

Edward here."
So let them dream till brighter days when, not by Edward's

shade
But by some leader true as he, their lines shall be arrayed.

These Geraldines ! these Geraldines ! rain wears away the

rock,
And time may wear away the tribe that stood the battle's

shock ;

But ever, sure, while one is left of all that honoured race,
In front of Ireland's chivalry is that Fitzgerald's place ;

And though the last were dead and gone, how many a field

and town,
From Thomas-court to Abbeyfeile, would cherish their

renown !

And men will say of valour's rise, or ancient power's decline,
' 'Twill never soar, it never shone, as did the Geraldine."

The Geraldines ! the Geraldines ! and are there any fears
Within the sons of conquerors for full a thousand years ?
Can treason spring from out a soil bedewed with martyr's

blood ?
Or has that grown a purling brook which long rushed down a

flood?

By Desmond swept with sword and fire, by clan and keep


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