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After Aughrim’s Great Disaster

[ Roud 16907 ; Ballad Index PGa017 ; Mudcat 7866 ; Patrick Augustine Sheehan (1852-1913)]

John Lyons sang After Aughrim in 1974 on his Topic album The May Morning Dew and in 2012 on his Veteran CD with his brother Tim Lyons, Easy and Bold. A.L. Lloyd and Sandra Kerr noted:

Catholic James II was backed by Louis XIV of France and the bulk of Anglo-Irish landowners. Protestant William of Orange was backed by a European Coalition and the bulk of the English merchant class. The mass of Irishmen had the choice to be robbed by an English Protestant landlord or an Irish Catholic one. They chose the latter alternative. The forces of James and William met on 12 July 1691 at Aughrim, near Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. The Irish were routed, James fled back to France, and 10,000 Irish patriots, the ‘Wild Geese’, opted for exile abroad. Some, however, stayed on to continue the fight as guerrillas, or ‘raparees’. One such was Sean O’Dwyer, celebrated in this, the best of Irish Jacobite songs.

Niamh Parsons sang After Aughrim’s Great Disaster in 2003 on Ditte Fromseier and Michael G. Rose’s album Contradiction and in 2015 on her and Graham Dunne’s album Kind Providence. She noted:

I got this version from the wonderful John Lyons, the Clare based singer and accordion player from Cork, who told me he found the third verse in an old ‘Ireland’s Own’ magazine. John has recorded it on Easy and Bold with his brother.

Written by The Rev. Patrick Augustine Canon Sheehan (1852-1913), this song tells of the aftermath of the Battle of Aughrim (July 1691), fought between the Irish Jacobite Army under the command of General St. Ruth and the Williamite Army led by the Dutchman, General Ginkle.

Gallowglasses were armed mercenaries. The battle was fatal to the old Aristocracy of Ireland and led to the Treaty of Limerick. Sean O’Dwyer and his followers continued a guerrilla war, before finally sailing with Patrick Sarsfield to France to join King Louis XIV thus starting ‘The Flight of the Wild Geese’.


Niamh Parsons sings After Aughrim’s Great Disaster

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 flood.
And through Slieve Bloom’s dark passes you led our Gallowglasses,
Although the hungry Saxon wolves were howling for our blood.
And as we crossed Tipperary we broke the clan O’Leary,
And drove a creacht before us as our horsemen onward came.
With our swords and spears we gored them and through flood and night we bore them,
Still Seán Ó Duibhir a Ghleanna we were worsted in the game.

Long long we held the hillside, our couch it was the rillside
The sturdy oaken boughs our curtain overhead.
The summer blaze we laughed at, the winter snows we scoffed at,
And trusted in our long broad swords to win our daily bread.
Then the Dutchmen’s troops they found us in fire and steel they bound us.
They blazed the woods and mountains till the very sky was flamed.
Yet our sharpened swords cut through them, through their coats of mail we hewed them,
But Seán Ó Duibhir a Ghleanna we were worsted in the game.

’Twas all night in woeful sorrow we waited for the morrow,
Alone upon the mountain top we lingered for the dawn.
To see beneath us, spreading, field and farm and steading,
Hill and dale and valley, meadow, moor and bog.
Our good ship then we sought her, where rose the deep Blackwater.
The river’s bright and pungent to swell her bosom came.
From all the farewell taking, from sad hearts sore and aching,
Ah, but Seán Ó Duibhir a Ghleanna we were worsted in the game.

Here’s a health to your and my king, the sovereign of our liking.
And to Sarsfield underneath whose flag we’ll cast once more a chance.
For the morning’s dawn will bring us across the sea and wing us,
To take a stand and wield a brand among the sons of France.
And though we part in sorrow, still Seán Ó Duibhir a chara,
Our prayer is, “God save Ireland and pour blessings on her name,”
May her sons be true when needed, may they never feel as we did,
For Seán Ó Duibhir a Ghleanna we were worsted in the game.