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KELLY OF KILLANE
Patrick Joseph McCall

 

 
                                    What's the news? What's the news? O my bold Shelmalier,
                                        With your long-barrelled gun of the sea?
                                    Say what wind from the south blows his messenger here
                                        With a hymn of the 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 morn from the South to the North,
                                        Led by Kelly, the Boy from Killane!"
 
                                    "Tell me who is that giant with 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!" -
                                    "Ah, my lads, that's the pride of the bold Shelmaliers,
                                        'Mong our greatest of heroes, a Man! -
                                    Fling your beavers aloft and give three ringing cheers
                                        For John Kelly, the Boy from Killane!"
 
                                    Enniscorthy's in flames, and old Wexford is won,
                                        And the Barrow tomorrow we cross,
                                    On a hill o'er the town we have planted a gun
                                        That will batter the gateways of Ross!
                                    All the Forth men and Bargy men march o'er the heath,
                                        With brave Harvey to lead on the van;
                                    But the foremost of all in the grim Gap of Death
                                        Will be Kelly, the Boy from Killane!"
 
                                    But the gold sun of Freedom grew darkened at Ross,
                                        And it set by the Slaney's red waves;
                                    And poor Wexford, stript naked, hung high on a cross,
                                        And her heart pierced by traitors and slaves!
                                    Glory O! Glory O! to her brave sons who died
                                        For the cause of long-down-trodden man!
                                    Glory O! to Mount Leinster's own darling and pride -
                                        Dauntless Kelly, the Boy from Killane!"
 
Footnote - Patrick Joseph McCall ( 1861-1919 ) was born in Patrick Street, Dublin. His summer holidays were spent in Rathangan, Co. Wexford, where he made the aquaintance of local musicians and ballad singers. He collected many old Irish airs, but is best remembered for his patriotic ballads. I first heard this song from the 1798 Rising in Ireland sung by The Revellers at the Rothes Folk Club in the Golden Acorn Hotel, Glenrothes circa 1963. The hero of the song, John Kelly of Killane Co. Wexford, Ireland, was detailed by the Commander-in-Chief, Bagenal Harvey, to bring in all the available men from the Barony of Bantry for the planned attack on New Ross. He was seriously wounded in Michael Street, New Ross, following the successful attack on Three Bullet Gate. He was recovering in Wexford Town when it was recaptured by the British. A yeoman sergeant who was a neighbour and whose life he had saved some days before, gave evidence against him. He was hanged on Wexford Bridge, his trunk conveyed to the water and his head trailed and kicked along the streets before being spiked. Friends recovered the head and brought it to Killane for burial and a monument was later erected on the spot.