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Croppy Boy (2)
(Laws J14; Roud 1030)
Tom Lenihan
Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
Recorded in singer's home, September 1977

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Tom Lenihan

Good men and true in this house who dwell,
To a stranger buachaill I pray you tell.
Is the priest at home or can he be seen?
‘Tis easy speaking with Father Greene.

The priest is at home boy and can be seen.
‘Tis easy speaking with Father Greene.
But you must wait till I go and see,
Is the holy father alone maybe.

The youth has entered an empty hall;
What a lonely sound as his light footfall.
In a gloomy chamber chill and bare
Sat a vested priest in a lonely chair.

The youth has knelt now to tell his sins.
In ainm an Dé 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 brothers all.
I alone am left of my name and race;
I will go to Wexford and take their place.

I cursed three times, since last Easter day.
At Mass time once, I went to play.
I passed a churchyard one day in haste,
And forgot to pray for my mother’s rest.

I bear no hate against living things,
But I love my country above my king.
So Father, bless me and let me go
To die if God has ordained it so.'

The priest said nought but a rustling noise.
Made the youth look up in a wild surprise!
The robes were off, and a scarlet there
Sat a yeoman captain with fiery glare.

With fiery glare and with fury holds
Instead of a blessing he breathes a curse.
‘‘Twas a good thought boy, to come here and shrive,
For one short hour is your time to live.’

‘Twas in old Ireland this young man died,
And for old Ireland his body lies.
And ye young people that do pass by
Breathe a prayer and tear for the Fenian Boy.

“There are two distinct ballads entitled The Croppy Boy, both included in this collection. They have been given the same Roud number although they are different songs. The general historical information applies to both: these are Denis-Georges Zimmermann’s notes to this text:

‘By Carroll Malone (W.B. McBurney, first published in ‘The Nation’ 4th January 1845). Tune: No melody is named in ‘The Nation’, but the ballad was later sung to the air Calino Casturame. Text and tune were published together in M.J. Murphy's ‘National Songs of Ireland’ (1892). It has been proved that the original song (Cailín ó cois tSúire mé) is Irish, but the tune has never been noted from oral tradition since the seventeenth century. M.J. Murphy borrowed this variant from William Ballett's Lute Book, an Elizabethan MS in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. He might have seen it in Samuel Lover's ‘Lyrics of Ireland’, p. 358.

Note: In The Sham Squire, pp. 179-180, W.J. Fitzpatrick tells the anecdote that inspired this ballad: “The yeomanry [somewhere in County Wexford], after having sacked the chapel and hunted the priest, deputed one of their corps to enter the confessional and personate the good pastor. In the course of the day some young men on their way to the battle of Oulart dropped in for absolution. One, who disclosed his intention, and craved the personated priest's bessing, was retorted upon with a curse, while the yeoman, losing patience, flung off the soutane, revealing beneath his scarlet uniform. The youth was shot upon the spot, and his grave is still shown at Passage.”
Songs of Irish Rebellion Denis-Georges Zimmermann, Dublin 1967
Jim Carroll

See also:
The Croppy Boy (1) sung by Tom Lenihan

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