Play recording: Boolavogue

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  • Teideal (Title): Boolavogue.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 853916.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 2356.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): song.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Lucy Simpson.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 12/08/1980.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): private.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

This song is about a priest who had led a group of peasants, or rebels as they were called, against the English at Wexford in 1798. The peasants- They were beaten anyway by the British. And the priest was taken and his body was broken at the rack. And that’s- The song is all about Fr. Michael Murphy, a young priest who saw the suffering of the people and tried to help them – say, something like a Joan of Arc or something. Anyway that’s the story. And he came from a place called Boolavogue, which is a town in Wexford, that’s the title of the song. Some people call it ‘Father Murphy’ and some people call it ‘Boolavogue.’

At Boolavogue, when the sun was setting o’er the bright May meadows of Shelmalier,
A rebel hand set the heather blazing, and brought the neighbours from far and near,
And Father Murphy from old Kilcormack set up the rocks with a warning cry:
‘Arm! Arm!’ he cried, ‘I have come to lead you, for Ireland’s freedom we’ll live or die.’

He led us on ‘gainst the coming soldiers; the cowardly Yeomen we put to flight;
‘Twas at the Harrow the boys of Wexford showed Bookey’s Regiment how men could fight!
Look out for hirelings, King George of England! Search ev’ry kingdom where breathes a slave!
For Father Murphy of the County Wexford sweeps o’er the land like a mighty wave.

We took Camolin and Enniscorthy, and Wexford storming drove out our foe;
‘Twas at Sliabh Coillte our pikes were reeking with the crimson stream of the beaten Yeos.
At Tubberneering and Ballyellis full many a Hessian lay in his gore;
Oh, Father Murphy, had aid come over, the green flag floated from shore to shore!

At Vinegar Hill, near the pleasant Slaney, our heroes vainly fought back to back;
But the Yeos at Tullow siezed Father Murphy and broke his body upon the rack.
God grant you glory, brave Father Murphy! The light of heaven to all your men!
The cause that called you may call tomorrow in another fight for the Green again!

JH: It’s an absolutely true story, what happened to Father Murphy, and how it happened. How King George was King of England at the time.

LS: Does anybody know who wrote that song?

JH: I’ll tell you the truth, I don’t know. I don’t know who wrote that song.

LS: Is that one your father sang?

JH: He used to, but it wasn’t one of his specialities, you know. He used to sing it. In fact, everybody knew it. ‘Father Murphy’ they called it. Everybody knew it.

LS: Does everybody still know it? Is it still very well-known?

JH: It’s still very well-known. It’s a well-known song, and it’s one of the- They call it the ‘daddy’ of all the patriotic or rebel songs. And you know it, it’s the same air as, eh, ‘[Come] Lay me down and treat me [decent].’ Well it is a very well-known song. … in fact, I never, I never, in fact, I never sing that song.

LS: How come?

JH: Just because of the way things are at the moment, I want to avoid all rebel songs, you know, that is one reason. Because you nev- It might start, you know, something that I would never think of doing myself. You know what I mean, some people get excited, and, you know what I mean, I never do it. I was often asked, but I never, since that trouble started ten years ago, I never sang one at a concert since, you know. ‘Cause I don’t want to know, to offend anybody. You know, there’s enough trouble without starting something. You know, one thing leads to another – better avoid them.