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After Aughrim
John Lyons
Recorded London, April 1974

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

John Lyons

After Aughrim's great disaster, when our foe in sooth was master,
It was you who first plunged in and swam the Shannon's boiling surf.
And through Slieve Bloom's dark passes you led our gallowglasses,
Although the hungry Saxon wolves were howling for your blood.
And as we crossed Tipp'rary, we raised the clan O'Leary,
And drove a creach* before us, as our horsemen onward came.
With our swords and spears we gored them, through flood and light we drove them,
Ah, but Seán Ó Duibhir an Ghleanna, we were worsted in the game.

Long, long we kept the hillside, our couch hard by the rill-side,
The sturdy oaken knotted boughs our curtain overhead.
The summer's blaze we laughed at, the winter snow we scoffed at;
And trusted in our sharpened swords to win us daily bread.
But the Dutchman's troops came round us, in fire and ball they bound us.
They blazed the woods and valleys, ‘till the very sky was flame.
But our sharpened swords cut through them, in their very hearts we hewed them,
Ah, but Seán Ó Duibhir an Ghleanna, we were worsted in the game.

Here's a health to yours and my king, the sovereign to our liking,
And to Sarsfield, underneath whose flag once more we’ll take a chance.
For the morning's tide will find us across the seas and win us
A place to stand and wield a brand among the sons of France.
And as we part in sorrow, yet Seán Ó Duibhir a chara,
Our hope is God save Ireland, pour blessings on her name.
May her sons be true when needed, may they never fail as we did,
For Seán Ó Duibhir an Ghleanna, we were worsted in the game.

*a herd of cattle


John Lyons speaks before singing the song:
"After the Battle of Aughrim, in Galway, in 1691, the defeat of the chieftans, many of them went and joined the forces of King Louis in France. Those who stayed behind were outlawed and took to the hills and became raparees. This story tells of the life of the raparee. It’s called, and it’s about a certain man, Sean Dwyer of the Glen – Seán Ó Duibhir an Ghleanna. There are many songs about this famous raparee."

"Known as Seán Ó Duibhir a’ Ghleanna (Sean O’Dwyer of the Glen), this was originally a poem by Canon Sheehan of Doneraile; it has become a ballad dealing with the Williamite Wars when Sarsfield was defeated at Limerick which forced many of his supporters into exile. Sean O Duibher a' Ghleanna is a potent symbol of the old order; he is the subject of songs in Irish as well as the English language. The song which, though it has obvious literary origins, has long since passed into oral tradition. On July 12th 1691, Ginkel met and defeated St Ruth at the Battle of Aughrim near Ballinasloe in Co. Galway. This led to the Treaty of Limerick and the scattering of the Jacobite forces, The Flight of the Wild Geese. The breakdown of the old order was, to all intents and purposes, complete."
Jim Carroll

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