Seán Ó Duibhir A' Ghleanna

Words: Translated from the Irish by Canon Patrick Sheehan (1852- 1913)

The original version dates to the Cromwellian wars in the mid 17th Century when Seán Ó Duibhir was one of the leaders of the Irish forces in South Tipperary. The translation is historically inaccurate- Ó Duibhir cannot be associated with Aughrim, Sarsfield and the wars of William and James- but the lyrics and melody are stirringly beautiful. My thanks to Séamus Mac Mathúna. The song is dedicated to the late Paddy Joe McMahon, Miltown Malbay.

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 Sliabh Bloom's dark passes when you led your Gallowglasses
Although the hungry Saxon wolves were howling for your blood.
And as we crossed Tipperary we rived the Clan O' Leary
And we drove a creach before us as our horsemen onward came.
With our swords and spears we gored them as through flood and tide we bore them.
Ah but Seán Ó Duibhir A' Ghleanna you were worsted in the game.

It was long, long we kept the hillside and our couch hard by the rillside
With the sturdy knotted oaken boughs our curtain overhead.
And the summer sun we laughed at, oh the winter snow we scoffed at
And we trusted in our long bright swords to win us daily bread.
Till the Dutchman's troops came round us, in fire and sword they bound us,
They blazed the woods and mountains till the very clouds were flame.
Yet our sharpened swords cut through them, to their very hearts we hewed them
Ah but Seán Ó Duibhir A' Ghleanna you were worsted in the game.

So here's a health to yours and my king, the sovereign of our liking
And to Sarsfield, underneath whose flag, we'll cast once more a chance.
For the morning dawn will wing us all across the seas and bring us,
To take a stand and to 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 fail as we did,
For Seán Ó Duibhir A' Ghleanna you were worsted in the game.