Theresa O’Connor

The Irish Brigade — Irish History in Song

Thomas Davis wrote several enduring Irish songs, most notably A Nation Once Again. This is his song of the Wild Geese — Irish soldiers who left Ireland under the terms of the Treaty of Limerick, who served with distinction in many of the armies of Europe.

Yours truly, at the Treaty Stone

Yours truly, at the Treaty Stone in Limerick.

Behind, across the Shannon, is King John’s Castle.

The mess tent is full and the glasses are set
And the gallant Count Thomond1 is president yet
The veteran arose, like an uplifted lance
Crying “Comrades, a health to the monarch of France!”
With a thunderous cheer now they did as he bade
For King Louis is loved by the Irish Brigade

A health to King James and to Sarsfield was quaffed
“Here’s to George the Elector,” and fiercely they laughed
“Good luck to the girls we wooed long ago
Where the Shannon, and Barrow, and Blackwater flow”
You’d think in old Ireland that they were afraid
For in battle there’s none like the Irish Brigade

“But surely, that light does not come from our lamp
And the boys — they’re all singing songs ’round the camp
Hurrah! boys, the morning of battle has come
And the generale’s beating on manys a drum”
They rushed from their revel to join the parade
For the sword is the light of the Irish Brigade

They fought as they revelled: just, fiery, and true
And, though victors, they left on the field not a few
And they who survived fought and drank as before
Though the land of their heart’s hope they never saw more
In far foreign fields from Dunkirk to Belgrade
Lay the soldiers and chiefs of the Irish Brigade
In far foreign fields, from Dunkirk to Belgrade
Lay the soldiers and chiefs of the Irish Brigade

This arrangement is from the Wolfe Tones’ album Irish to the Core.


  1. Daniel O’Brien, Count Thomond & Viscount Clare. There isn’t much about him online.