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Lyr Req: The Battle of Benburb (Joyce, Makem)

mjdennis@wcnet.org (Bob Midden) 24 Nov 96 - 02:58 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 02 Sep 01 - 10:13 AM
Big Tim 16 Sep 01 - 04:50 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 16 Sep 01 - 09:19 AM
Jim Dixon 28 Sep 09 - 06:06 PM
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Subject: Hills of Benburb
From: mjdennis@wcnet.org (Bob Midden)
Date: 24 Nov 96 - 02:58 PM

Anyone know the words to the tune, "The Hills of Benburb"? This doesn't seem to be in the Digital Tradition, at least not under that title or with that spelling of Benburb anywhere in the lyrics.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BATTLE OF BENBURB
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 02 Sep 01 - 10:13 AM

Could it be this one?

THE BATTLE OF BENBURB
(Owen Roe O'Neill defeats the Scottish army under Munroe: June 6, 1646)
Words by Robert Dwyer Joyce
New melody by Tommy Makem in 1977
Music copyrighted 1978

O'er the hills of Benburb, rose the red beam of day
Gleaming bright from our foemen in battle array
But as brightly again, in the mid summer glow
It shone back from the troops of our brave Owen Roe
 
Munroe had his thousands arrayed at his back
With their puritan mantles, steel morion and Jack
And with him fierce Blayney and Conway had come
To crush Owen Roe at the roll of the drum
 
And who with O'Neill on that morn drew the band?
Brave hearts as e'er beat by the Blackwater strand
Sir Phelim, brave chief, with his bosom of fire
O'Donnell, McSweeney and gallant Maguire
 
From Derry's wild woodlands from Maine's sounding tide
From Leitrim and Longford came chiefs to our side
From Breffni's green hills, with his sabre in hand
Stood bold Myles the slasher, the pride of our land
 
We kept all that noontide, the foemen at play
Though we thought of their forays and burned for the fray;
For our chief bade us wait, till the eve had begun
Then rush on the foe with our backs to the sun
 
Hurrah for the red hand! And on to a man
Our columns poured down, like a storm on their van
Where a sermon was preaching to strengthen their zeal
"We'll give them a sermon" cried Owen Roe O'Neill
 
There was panic before us and panic beside
As their horsemen fled back in a wild broken tide;
And we swept them along by the Blackwater shore
'Till we reddened its tide with the Puritan's gore
 
A Kern by the river held something on high
"Saint Columb, is it thus that our enemies fly!
Perchance 'tis my coolun, they clipped long ago
Mile Gloria, the rough wig of flying Munroe!"
 
And we took from the foes e'er that calm twilight fall
Their horses and baggage and banners and all;
Then we sat by our camp-fires and drank in the glow
Good health to our leader, the brave Owen Roe


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Subject: RE: Hills of Benburb
From: Big Tim
Date: 16 Sep 01 - 04:50 AM

Interesting lyrics, thanks for posting them. "Kern" = outlaw, Catholic native. Henry Monro the executed leader of the County Down United Irish rebellion in 1798 was a direct descendant of the Scottish General Munroe referred to.


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Subject: RE: Hills of Benburb
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 16 Sep 01 - 09:19 AM

Thanks for the details, Tim.


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Subject: Lyr Req: THE BATTLE OF BENBURB (Robert Dwyer Joyce
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 28 Sep 09 - 06:06 PM

Lyrics and notes copied from Ballads of Irish Chivalry by Robert Dwyer Joyce, edited with annotations by Patrick Weston Joyce (London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1908), page 15:

[I have boldfaced the words that are different between this text and the one above. Note there are 4 additional verses.]


THE BATTLE OF BENBURB.
Robert Dwyer Joyce

Benburb, on the Blackwater, five miles N.-W. from Armagh, where Owen Roe O'Neill defeated the Scottish army under Monroe: 1646. Consult any History of Ireland.

1. O'er the hills of Benburb rose the red beam of day,
Gleaming bright from our foemen in battle array;
But as brightly again in the midsummer glow,
It shone back from the troops of our brave Owen Roe.

2. Monroe had his thousands arrayed at his back,
With their Puritan mantles steel morion and jack,
And with him Ardes, Blayney, and Conway had come;
To crush Owen Roe at the roll of the drum.

3. And who with O'Neill on that morn drew the brand?
Bold hearts as e'er beat by the Blackwater strand:
Sir Phelim, brave chief, with the bosom of fire,
O'Donnell, MacSweeney, and gallant Maguire.

4. From Berry's wild woodlands, from Maine's sounding tide,[1]
From Leitrim and Longford, came chiefs to our side,
And stern in the front with his sabre in hand,
Stood bold Myles the Slasher the pride of our land.[2]

5. We kept, all that noontide, the Scotsmen at play,
Though we thought of their forays and burned for the fray;
For our Chief bade us wait till the eve had begun,
Then rush on the foe with our backs to the sun.

6. Then down to our front with his chiefs he spurred fast,—
"My brave men! the day of our weakness is past;
We have hearts now as firm as our sires had of yore,
When Bagenal they routed by Callan's green shore.[3]

7. "See, their cannon the foe for our columns have set;
Strike, and have them to play on their own columns yet;
For God and green Erin stern and sure be your blow,
As ye fight in my path!" said our brave Owen Roe.


8. Hurrah for the Red Hand![4] And on, to a man,
Our columns poured down like a storm on their van,
Where a sermon was preaching to strengthen their zeal,
But we gave them a sermon—the point of our steel.

9. The Slasher looked round as we closed in the fight,—
"Now, my men"—he called out—"reap your harvest ere night!"
Then he dashed at the foe with his long heavy blade,
And, mavrone, what a lane through their columns he made!


10. There was panic before us and panic beside,
As their horsemen fled back in a wild broken tide;
And we swept them along by the Blackwater shore
Till we reddened its tide with the Puritans' gore.

11. Few foemen escaped on that well-stricken day;
On the field, in the river, by thousands they lay;
Fierce Blaney had fallen where he charged by the fen—
He slept face to heav'n by the side of his men.


12. A kern[5] by the river held something on high;—
"Saint Columb, is it thus that our enemies fly!
Perchance 'tis my coolun which they clipped long ago. —
Mílĕ Gloria, the rough wig of flying Monroe!"[6]

13. And we took from the foes ere that calm twilight fall
Their horses and baggage and banners and all;
Then we sat by our watch-fires and drank in the glow
Merry health to our leader, the brave Owen Roe!


[1] Maine, the river flowing by Castlemaine in Kerry.

[2] Mailmora or Myles O'Reilly, called Myles the Slasher from his great strength and bravery—a colonel under Owen Roe.

[3] At the battle of the Yellow Ford on the river Callan, six miles north of Armagh, where Hugh O'Neill defeated Bagenal: 1598.

[4] The Red Hand was the cognisance and standard of the O'Neills, kings of Ulster.

[5] Kern, a foot-soldier: "Coolun," the long hair at the back of the head.

[6] "Monroe escaped and fled in panic, bareheaded, leaving on the field his sword, cloak, helmet, and wig." Joyce's History of Ireland.


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