This song is called "THE GALTEE MOR MOUNTAINS" or GALTEEMORE. It has been recorded by many people throughout the years. See some notes below regarding the fairly recent version by the Grehan Sisters.
I first heard this song about 1950. Here are the words as I learned them.
In the Galtee Mor Mountains not far far away
I'll tell you a story that happened one day
To a young Irish Colleen whose age was sixteen
And she hoisted her banner, white, orange and green.
A young British Soldier was passing that way
He spied the young maid with their colours so gay
He cursed and he swore, he jumped off his machine
Determined to capture the flag of Sinn Fein
You shan't have these colours the young maiden cried
Or your blood or mine down this valley will ride
For I have a rifle and that's nothing mean
And I'll lay down my life for the flag of Sinn Fein
The young British soldier turned white as the snow
Jumped on his machine and away he did go
For there's no use in fighting a maid of sixteen
Who would lay down her life for her flag of Sinn Fein
Early next morning near Tipperary town
I saw the young maid from the Galtees come down
Her heart it was torn, 'twas plain to be seen
For that morning Tom Ashe gave his life for Sinn Fein
I imagine the song has been added to through the years. The last verse of the Grehan Recording that starts:
So young men and maidens from Erin's green shore
Raise a cheer for the maid from the broad Galtee Mor
etc may be an additional verse that has been added to the original.
Also the reference to Tom Ashe in the last verse above has been changed to "Mick Keane", my guess would be that Mick Keane was a victim of the recent troubles and as such became part of these additions or changes.
The British soldier has also became an English Bobby. The Grehan's version has an extra 3rd verse about the Bobby demanding the emblem.
Many changes - but that's folk music for you, it happens a lot and I hope it always will. As far as the pointlessness of killing I agree wholeheartedly.
The meaning of the song is quite simple as far as I know. The Irish were for many years not permitted to be Irish. The young girl is carrying the flag of Ireland in Ireland and a British soldier tried to take it off her. She simply is saying enough is enough, try to take this and one of us will die. Period.
HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 13-Jun-02.