Seven Irishmen, The

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  • Teideal (Title): Seven Irishmen, The.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): none.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): CC 018.020.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 3104.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin.
  • 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): Séamas Ennis.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 14th December 1942.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Carna, County Galway, Ireland.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): private.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Now you that loves the shamrock green, attend both young and old.
I feel it is my duty those lines for to unfold
Concerning seven emigrants who lately sailed away
To seek a better livelihood all in Americay.

On the fourteenth day of April our noble ship did sail
With fifty-five young Irish men, true sons of Gráinne Mhaol1
They landed safely in New York on the nineteenth day of May
To seek their friends and relatives all in Americay.

Some of them had their friends to meet as soon as they did land
With flowing bumpers drank a health to poor old Paddy’s Land
Those who had no friends to meet, their hearts were stout and bold
And by the cursed Yankees they would not be controlled.

Seven of those young Irish men were walking down George’s Street
When a Yankee officer [gentleman] they happened for to meet
He promised them employment in a brickyard near the town
There they were conducted; their names were taken down.

He brought them to an alehouse, and he called for drink go leor
I’m sure such entertainment they never had before
When he thought he had them drunk, those words to them did say,
‘You are ‘listed now as soldiers to defend Americay!’

They looked at one another; those words they then did say
‘It’s not to ‘list that we did come into Americay!
[But] To labour for our livelihood as we often did before
And we lately emigrated from the lovely shamrock shore.’

Twelve Yankees dressed as soldiers came in without delay
They said, ‘My lads, you must prepare with us to come away!
This is one of our officers – you cannot [now] refuse
So you need not strive nor yet resist – you can no longer wait.’

The Irish blood began to rise. One of those heroes said,
‘We have one only life to lose, therefore we’re not afraid!
Although we are from Ireland, this day we’ll let you see
We’ll die like sons of Gráinne Mhaol, and keep our liberty!’

The Irish boys got to their feet; it made the Yankees frown
As fast as they could strike a blow, they knocked the soldiers down
With bloody heads and broken bones they left them in crimson gore
And proved themselves Saint Patrick’s Day throughout Columba’s2 shore.

You’d swear it was a slaughterhouse in where those Yankees lay
The officer with all his men on carts were dragged away
With bloody heads and broken bones; they’ll mind it evermore
With a drop of sweet shillelagh they brought [that came] from Erin’s shore.

[A gentleman from Ohio had seen what they did do
He said, ‘I will protect you from this crimson[?] Yankee crew
I’ll bring you to Ohio where I have authority
And you shall be in my service while you are in this country’.]


1. Gráinne Mhaol (sometimes spelled ‘Granuaile’ in English) is Gráinne Ní Mháille, ‘the Pirate Queen’ and an historical figure of legendary importance, who harassed the English authorities at the time of Queen Elizabeth I. By referring to the seven young immigrants as true sons of Gráinne Mhaol, the song suggests that they are every bit as brave — and rebellious — as this legendary figure.

2. Presumably ‘Columbia’.

The Seven Irishmen was among a number of items collected from Joe by Séamas Ennis when he was collecting material for the Irish Folklore Commission. Joe told Ennis that he had learned it from his father (CBÉ 1280:586-88).

Listen to Joe’s discussion of the background to this song.

In the early 1980s, Jill Linzee made another recording of Joe singing this song. In that recording, he also explains the story behind it (See Seven Irishmen, The (Background)). Words given here in square brackets reflect what Joe sang on that occasion. The final stanza, which Joe sang for Jill, was also included in Séamas Ennis’s transcription of Joe’s 1942 performance.