The site noted at the bottom is a fascinating location for Irish History and links. They graciously provided the following explanations:
Subject: Re: Comments form Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 20:41:55, -0500 From: XLYB48A@prodigy.com (MR JOSEPH E GANNON) To: gargoyle
-- [ From: Joe Gannon * EMC.Ver #2.5.3 ] --
> > > In a folksong discussion group, http://www.mudcate.org we had a brief > discussion come up about the song "Wearin' Of the Green." Our information > dates the original published version to around 1814 with many variations after > that. > > We are in the U.S.A. and the songs references are unfamilar to us. > > QUESTION: Who are "Old Erin" and "Father Murphy" and "Emmett" and "Dan > O'Connel" and "Colby Green" and "Naper Tandy?" > > The univeristy library does not have the Irish Biographies you note in your > bibliography - I shall request that the book be ordered. > > Thanks again for a GREAT Web-Site! > > > >
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Let me give you a quick rundown on these. "Old Erin" is simply a personification of Ireland, Ireland is known variously as Erie, Erin, Erse. "Father Murphy" is father John Murphy who was one of the leaders of the 1798 Rising in County Wexford. He was captured and executed by the British following the failure of that Rising. "Emmet" (One 't') is Robert Emmet who led a small rising in 1803 which was not very significant in itself in terms of having any chance at success, but his speech in the dock during his trial was very famous and has served as an inspiration for all the generations of republicans since then. "Daniel O'Connell" (two"ls") was the first Catholic elected to Parliament from Ireland in 1828. (So this reference would not be in any 1814 variation of the song). He was actually elected before Catholic emancipation allowed it, his election was one of the catalysts for the passing of Catholic emancipation in the parliament. The British feared that if they didn't allow O'Connell to take his seat there might be a rising in Ireland. O'Connell continued to fight for more rights for the Irish his whole live. He is known in Irish history as "The Liberator." "Colby Green" I'm not sure of, it is probably just a location reference. James "Napper (two Ps) Tandy?" was one of the founders of the revolutionary group known as the "United Irishmen." They were the first republican revolutionaries in Irish history. It was their movement that led to the 1798 Rising and also Robert Emmet's rising in 1803. Tandy had fled Ireland to avoid arrest in 1793 and traveled to France. He returned to Ireland in 1798 at the head of a small force of French soldiers but the rising had run its course by then. He was later captured by the British and barely escaped execution through the influence of Napoleon, who managed to get him released in 1802. He died a year later. Hope this helps you out.
The Wild Geese Today