Theresa O’Connor

Kelly, the Boy from Killanne — Irish History in Song

This rousing song tells the story of the Battle of New Ross, a decisive moment in the United Irishmen’s failed rebellion of 1798.

The Battle of New Ross, 1798.

Battle of New Ross

Image from Wikipedia.

What’s the news, what’s the news, oh my bold Shelmalier
With your long-barrelled gun of the sea?
Say what wind from the South blows a messenger here
With his hymn of a dawn for the free
Goodly news, goodly news, do I bring, youth of Forth
Goodly news shall you hear, Bargy man
For the boys march at dawn from the South to the North
Led by Kelly, the boy from Killanne

Tell me who is that giant with the gold curling hair
He who rides at the head of your band
Seven feet is his height with some inches to spare
And he looks like a king in command
Oh me boys, that’s the pride of the bold Shelmaliers
He’s our bravest of heros, a man
So throw your beavers aloft and give three ringing cheers
For John Kelly, the boy from Killanne

Enniscorthy’s in flames and old Wexford is won
And tomorrow the Barrow we wil cross
On the hill o’er the town we have planted a gun
Which will batter a gateway to Ross
All you Forth men and Bargy men will march o’er the heath
With brave Harvey to lead in the van
But the formost of all in that grim gap of death
Will be Kelly, the boy from Killanne

But the gold sun of freedom grew darkened at Ross
And it set by the Slaney’s red waves
And poor Wexford, stripped naked, hung high on a cross
With her heart pierced by traitors and knaves
Glory-o, glory-o, to her brave sons who died
In the cause of long downtrodden man
Glory-o to Mount Leinster’s own darling and pride
Dauntless Kelly, the boy from Killanne