Boolavogue Lyrics and History

Dunbrody Abbey in Wexford, Ireland

David Soanes Photography/Getty Images

Father John Murphy was the parish priest in Boolavogue, a small town in County Wexford in Ireland, who led his parishioners in battle during the 1798 uprising. For his participation, Father Murphy was tortured, flogged, decapitated, burned, and ultimately, had his head put on a stake to warn his countrymen against further rebellion. The song "Boolavogue" was written in his honor in 1898 by Patrick Joseph McCall, who set the lyrics to an ancient Irish air called "Eochaill."

"Boolavogue" Lyrics

At Boolavogue as the sun was setting o'er the bright May meadows of Shelmalier
A rebel band set the heather blazing and brought the neighbors from far and near
Then Father Murphy from old Kilcormac spurred up the rock with a warning cry
"Arm, arm," he cried, "For I've come to lead you, for Ireland's freedom we'll fight or die."

He led us on against the coming soldiers and 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 every kingdom where breathes a slave
For Father Murphy of County Wexford sweeps o'er the land like a mighty wave.

We took Camolin and Enniscorthy and Wexford storming drove out our foes
'Twas at Slieve Coilte our pikes were reeking with the crimson blood of the beaten yeos
At Tubberneery 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 o'er the River Slaney our heroes vainly stood back to back
And the yeos of Tullow took Father Murphy and burned his body upon the rack
God grant you glory brave Father Murphy and open heaven to all your men
The cause that called you may call tomorrow in another fight for the Green again.

Notable Recordings of "Boolavogue"

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem
The Irish Rovers
Ron Kavana