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Origins: Legion of the Rearguard

Blackcatter 01 May 05 - 10:14 AM
Rapparee 01 May 05 - 10:48 AM
Peace 01 May 05 - 03:31 PM
Tannywheeler 02 May 05 - 01:41 AM
GUEST,JTT 02 May 05 - 06:48 AM
Blackcatter 02 May 05 - 01:07 PM
GUEST,GUEST, Big Tim 02 May 05 - 03:43 PM
Brakn 02 May 05 - 05:32 PM
GUEST,Leadfingers 03 May 05 - 07:18 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 03 May 05 - 09:09 AM
Brakn 03 May 05 - 09:18 AM
GUEST 03 May 05 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 03 May 05 - 09:41 AM
GUEST,Guest, Big Tim (on new pc!) 03 May 05 - 09:47 AM
Blackcatter 03 May 05 - 09:52 AM
Brakn 03 May 05 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 03 May 05 - 09:58 AM
Blackcatter 03 May 05 - 10:02 AM
GUEST,Kevin Rietmann 03 May 05 - 10:43 AM
GUEST 03 May 05 - 10:49 AM
GUEST,quinmic@indigo.ie 22 Jan 06 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,SOS 03 May 10 - 06:26 PM
GUEST,Tom Brady 13 May 13 - 01:26 PM
GUEST,guest Mick 24 May 16 - 03:49 PM
Joe Offer 25 May 16 - 01:20 AM
Joe Offer 25 May 16 - 01:33 AM
Joe Offer 25 May 16 - 02:00 AM
Joe Offer 25 May 16 - 02:07 AM
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Subject: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: Blackcatter
Date: 01 May 05 - 10:14 AM

Hello all. Looking for info on the history of the song.

Also have a question about one of the persons listed: "Love". I know all the rest, but who is this (if anyone) or is it a typo, weird spelling, etc.?

Legion of the Rearguard

Thanks!

Blackcatter


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: Rapparee
Date: 01 May 05 - 10:48 AM

I dunno who "Love" is. From the Clancy's recording I learned it as

"Wolfe Tone and Emmett guide you...."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: Peace
Date: 01 May 05 - 03:31 PM

Rapaire has it, IMO. Seems to have been misprinted on the site from which the initial post was taken. See

http://www.eirefirst.com/l.html#l011

The above is an excellent source for words of various songs. Worth adding to favorites or bookmarks.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 02 May 05 - 01:41 AM

Wolfe Tone is one of those myriad "heroes in The Troubles" who was more than a guerrilla fighter. Fought intellctually as well. There are lots of 'Catters with better knowledge of Irist history than myself. Have I remembered correctly?    Tw


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 02 May 05 - 06:48 AM

Theobald Wolfe Tone was not exactly a hero of the troubles. He was a Protestant Dublin lawyer and a typically 18th-century rationalist believer in liberty - also a witty diarist - who is widely regarded as the founder of modern Irish republicanism.

Every year the republicans of Ireland - the Fianna Fáil party in one bunch and the Sinn Féin aligned in another - visit his grave in Bodenstown, Co Kildare. I'm sure if you hunt around the Digitrad you'll find the song In Bodenstown Churchyard There Is A Green Grave...

Tone went to the places regarded in the 18th century as the homes and havens of freedom - America, and the country that had funded the first foray into freedom of the new American states, France - to seek help and funding for a revolution that would overthrow English rule in Ireland.

The Directory sent an expedition to Ireland in 1798, but this failed; Tone was captured and is said to have cut his throat while under sentence of death.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: Blackcatter
Date: 02 May 05 - 01:07 PM

Thanks for the help. I should have figured it out, but heck, the DT is never wrong, right?

Ta.

Anyone got any history on the song itself - The Traditional Ballad Index is mum on the song, I believe.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: GUEST,GUEST, Big Tim
Date: 02 May 05 - 03:43 PM

I read somewhere that the song is about the Irish army during "The Emergency" - the Second World War (Ireland was neutral). If so, then it's not that old, yet I've never seen the composer's name.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: Brakn
Date: 02 May 05 - 05:32 PM

I think it was about the civil war. I have it on a Clancy Brothers album somewhere. I'll dig it out and see if it gives the writer.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: GUEST,Leadfingers
Date: 03 May 05 - 07:18 AM

As I understand ( digging back into the memory when i used to do a few Irish protest songs) was that The Legion Of The Rearguard were the IRA equivalent of Dad's Army (The home Guard) The old men and boys just too young to fight , who would look after the women and chidren IF the IRA came to grief! - Now Tell me Thats a load of Codswallop !!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 03 May 05 - 09:09 AM

Big Tim

You thinking of "On the One Road"?

I think the Rearguard song may date from the late 1920's or early '30's. A Google produces suggestions for author and background - but I'd prefer to have a look through some printed sources.

Regards
p.s Leadfingers - you're dead right - it's codswallop!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: Brakn
Date: 03 May 05 - 09:18 AM

It's credited to Keating on the Clancy's album.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: GUEST
Date: 03 May 05 - 09:25 AM

Martin - Thanks - I wasnt sure , but I seem to remember something on
those line 'Way Back then' !! I would definantely be interested in the background to the song myself , though .


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 03 May 05 - 09:41 AM

The Irish Traditional Music Archive holds sheet music with the following details:

Title: Song of the Legion of the rearguard (The Rallying Song of the Republic)
Author: Jack O'Sheehan
Published: Dublin , 1924 by the FOS Press
Notes: Written and composed in Hare Park Internment Camp, 1923.

They have a second copy with a different publisher listed, same date.

Regards

Martin


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: GUEST,Guest, Big Tim (on new pc!)
Date: 03 May 05 - 09:47 AM

Yes, I had a Dad's Army image formed about "Legion of the Rearguard", for some reason best known to self.

Thanks for details Martin, it's older than I thought.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: Blackcatter
Date: 03 May 05 - 09:52 AM

Thanks Martin & all for the help.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: Brakn
Date: 03 May 05 - 09:57 AM

According to this site ...
"After the Civil War the Republicans maintained their ultimate target: an undivided and independent Ireland. Soldiers of the Legion of the Rearguard was a honorary nickname given to the members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) by Eamonn de Valera."

Lyrics by: Jack O'Sheehan

And this site of Parliamentary Debates, Dáil Éireann - Volume 1 - 10 April, 1919 says that Mr. Jack O'Sheehan, was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for singing a song. There you go!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 03 May 05 - 09:58 AM

BTW

Hare Park was part of the Curragh Camp.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: Blackcatter
Date: 03 May 05 - 10:02 AM

Soldiers of the Legion of the Rearguard was a honorary nickname

Some nickname...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: GUEST,Kevin Rietmann
Date: 03 May 05 - 10:43 AM

I have a dub of a 78 recorded in 1936 by Dublin uilleann piper Leo Rowsome playing this song as a march. Leo recorded a lot of marches and song airs.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: GUEST
Date: 03 May 05 - 10:49 AM

I always thought it meant the ones who covered the the arses of their fleeing erstwhile comrades.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: GUEST,quinmic@indigo.ie
Date: 22 Jan 06 - 09:45 AM

The song was written by Jack O'Sheehan who was jailed for singing it. FOS the publisher, was the acronym for Fergus 0'Sheehan, Jack's brother. He operated from 16 Parnell Square in Dublin. They are all dead. CBS had the publishing rights for the song. The rest ot these messages are somewhat correct but loose their truth in the telling.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: GUEST,SOS
Date: 03 May 10 - 06:26 PM

Writer was my grandfather


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rear Guard
From: GUEST,Tom Brady
Date: 13 May 13 - 01:26 PM

During the '50s the father of a girl I was dating claimed to have been a member of the IRA during the "time of the Troubles". His deeds of valor grew with every Guiness, but he was entertaining. He also had a fine tenor voice, and sang rebel songs on demand (or even if there was no demand.)One of the songs he sang was "Legion of the Rearguard". In his version there was no mention of DeValera, however. Instead of the line going "DeValera lead you", as quoted above, it went "Death alone relieve you." This seems to be a truer rendition, since DeValera was not universally honored by the IRA at the time.

It might be of interest to note that Eamon DeValera was born, not in Ireland, but in New York City. His parents, reportedly, were Catherine Coll, who was Irish, and Juan Vivion de Valera, who was Cuban. No record of their marriage exists.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rearguard
From: GUEST,guest Mick
Date: 24 May 16 - 03:49 PM

My Dad a DeValera supporter used to sing this song when I was a child, a long long time ago. He used to sing 'DeValera lead you' but I learned the song from a friend of mine in Birmingham in the sixties, and he had learned it in THE lenin school in Moscow in the late twenties and used the chorus line 'Connolly shal lead you'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Legion of the Rearguard
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 May 16 - 01:20 AM

The Traditional Ballad Index now has quite a nice article on the song:

Legion of the Rearguard, The

DESCRIPTION: "Up the republic, they raise their battle cry, Pearse and McDermott will pray for you on high, Eager and ready, for the love of you they die." The soldiers for the Republic die proud, bloody deaths to accomplish an unstated goal
AUTHOR: J. O'Sheehan
EARLIEST DATE: 1922 (copyright, according to the Clancy/Makem songbook)
KEYWORDS: Ireland political soldier death nonballad
FOUND IN:
REFERENCES (1 citation):
DT, LGNREAR
NOTES: Why is it that the Irish nut cases get all the good songs?
After the 1916 rebellion, the Irish people finally turned truly nationalist. And, after World War I, Michael Collins and others turned up the heat so much that the British, after repression failed (see the notes, e.g., to "The Bold Black and Tan"), gave up and started negotiating.
The result was the Anglo-Irish Treaty (for which see, in particular, "The Irish Free State"). This would have turned Ireland into a British Dominion (a nearly-independent state; Canada was the prototype). But there were two things in the Treaty that were objectionable: The Irish still owed nominal allegiance to the British crown, and Ireland was to be partitioned between Ulster and the Free State, according to a boundary to be determined.
Rationally, it was a fair agreement for Ireland; it was not George V and the current generation of the royal family who had oppressed them, but Elizabeth I (no descendants), Oliver Cromwell (repudiated by the English), William of Orange (not the ancestor of the current dynasty), and David Lloyd George, who wouldn't hold power much longer. And, had the boundary commission worked, Ireland would have gotten rid of those ungovernable Ulstermen that gave England almost as much trouble as they gave Dublin.
But the war with Britain had been fought by the IRA and other, even more secret and terrorist, forces, and they wanted complete independence. When Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins brought home the Treaty, Eamon de Valera (head of state and chief hard liner) rejected it. The Dail, the Irish parliament, however, went against him and -- despite being composed entirely of Sinn Fein members -- voted for it by a narrow margin. The national election which followed showed strong support for it; even the pro-Republican historian Calton Younger's statistics (pp. 313-314) make it appear that only 22% of the voters voted to reject the Treaty.
But 22% is more than enough for an insurgency. The IRA was split into pro- and anti-treaty factions. Speaking very loosely, the anti-treaty forces were concentrated in the south and west, with Cork their chief center (hence, presumably, the song's reference to the martial tramp of the Republicans being heard "from Cork to Donegal"). The anti-treaty forces promptly went to war against the pro-Treaty provisional government.
The insurgents scored one and only one real success: On August 22, 1922, they succeeded in killing Michael Collins, the effective head of the government. (For this, and much additional background, see the notes to "General Michael Collins").
It was the ultimate in pyrrhic victories. Collins had started his career as a terrorist, but he was also a realist and a genius. He might have managed to control the rebellion with relatively slight loss of life and liberty. Without him, the new government, headed by William Cosgrave, Kevin O'Higgins, and Collins's former Chief of Staff Richard Mulcahy, turned Ireland into a temporary police state; the Dail gave them emergency powers, and they set up military tribunals and indeed engaged in arbitrary executions; the rebels were explicitly denied prisoner of war status (Kee,, pp. 168-169). What should have been a noble cause got off to a dreadful start. But it suppressed the rebellion.
This song -- the only thing I've ever encountered by O'Sheehan -- seems to have played its part. In 1923, Eamon de Valera, whose refusal to accept the Treaty had contributed to much to causing the Irish Civil War, finally gave in and urged the anti-treaty forces to lay down their arms. And he addressed them as "Soldiers of the Republic, Legion of the Rearguard" (Kee, p 175; see also p. 170). They were so-called because they had once been (and hoped to be again) the vanguard of Irish independence, but now were fighting a rearguard action to keep the dream alive.
In the long run, of course, de Valera would succeed in "freeing" the 26 counties; Ireland is no longer a British dominion. But it would surely have been a lot easier had he pursued a political solution.
Besides de Valera, the song mentions:
Pearse - Padraig Pearse, the leader of the 1916 uprising, who was executed in that year; see in particular the notes to "The Boys from County Cork."
McDermott - Sean McDermott, another executed in the aftermath of the Easter Rising; he was one of those who joined Pearse in organizing the rebellion. According to Foy/Barton, p. 4, he and Tom Clarke were "the key figures who, in the years before 1916, shaped the policies of the Irish Republican Brotherhood." Still in his early thirties at the time of the rising, he had suffered from polio in his late twenties, and could barely shuffle along with a cane or walking stick. I wonder if he may not have been offered as an example precisely *because* he was a cripple whom the British executed anyway.
"Wolfe Love" - This is what the Clancy Brothers record as the text, but I have to think this is an error of some sort. Certainly the reference is to (Theobald) Wolfe Tone, who helped inspire the 1798 rebellion and tried to win French support in the years before that; for his activities and his condemnation by the British, see e.g. the notes to "The Shan Van Voght."
Emmett - Robert Emmet (the usual spelling), whose 1803 attempt at rebellion was a complete botch but who inspired many songs; see e.g. the notes to "Bold Robert Emmet."
I doubt this song is actually traditional; I think the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem (violent nationalists all) picked it up because of their political beliefs rather than its historic status. But since they recorded it, it perhaps deserves an Index entry. - RBW
Bibliography
  • Foy/Barton: Michael Foy and Brian Barton, The Easter Rising, 1999 (I use the 2000 Sutton edition)
  • Kee: Robert Kee, Ourselves Alone, being volume III of The Green Flag (covering the brief but intense period from 1916 to the establishment of constitutional government in the 1920s), Penguin, 1972
  • Younger: Calton Younger, Ireland's Civil War (1968, 1979; I used the 1988 Fontana edition)
Last updated in version 2.5
File: DTlgnrea

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2015 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.



Here are the Digital Tradition lyrics for the song:

THE LEGION OF THE REARGUARD

Up the Republic, they raise their battle cry,
Pearse and McDermott will pray for you on high,
Eager and ready, for love of you they die
Proud march the soldiers of the Rearguard.

Cho:Legion of the Rearguard, answering Ireland's call,
Hark their martial tramp is heard from Cork to Donegal,
Wolfe Love and Emmett guide you, though your task be hard,
De Valera leads you, soldiers of the Legion of the Rearguard.

Glorious the morning, through flame and shot and shell,
Now rally Ireland, your sons who love you well
Pledged, they'll defend you, through death or prison cell
Wait for the soldiers of the Rearguard.

Crimson the roadside, the prison wall, the cave,
Proof (?) of their valour, go sleep in peace ye brave,
Comrade tread lightly, you're near a hero's grave,
Proud die the soldiers of the Rearguard.

Recorded by the Clancys
@Irish @war @rebel
filename[ LGNREAR
RG

And a YouTube recording by the Clancy Brothers:


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Subject: Version: Legion of the Rearguard
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 May 16 - 01:33 AM

The song is on page 49 of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem Songbook, Oak Publications, 1964. Here are the lyrics from the songbook (in italics when different from the Digital Tradition).

THE LEGION OF THE REARGUARD
(J. O'Sheehan, 1922)

Up the Republic, they raise their battle cry,
Pearse and McDermott will pray for you on high,
Eager and ready, for love of you they die
Proud march the soldiers of the Rearguard.

CHORUS
Legion of the Rearguard, answering Ireland's call,
Hark their martial tramp is heard from Cork to Donegal,
Wolfe Love Tone and Emmett guide you, though your task be hard,
De Valera leads you, Soldiers of the Legion of the Rearguard.

Glorious the morning, through flame and shot and shell,
Now rally Ireland, your sons who love you well
Pledged, they'll defend you, through (though??) death or prison cell
Wait for the soldiers of the Rearguard.

Crimson the roadside, the prison wall, the cave,
Proff (obvious typo) of their valour, go sleep in peace ye brave,
Comrade tread lightly, you're near a hero's grave,
Proud die the soldiers of the Rearguard.

Recorded by the Clancys
@Irish @war @rebel
filename[ LGNREAR
RG

So, except for the songwriter name and the correction of the obvious "proff" error, the lyrics in the Digital Tradition are identical to those in the songbook.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PVCzbBY3HU

In the Clancy recording, it's definitely Wolfe Tone, not "Wolfe Love" - but both the book and the DT have "Love." And I hear "though death or prison cell," although it could be as the DT and book have it.

Willie Brady recording with additional verses (needs transcription): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw2NOWYz2Vc


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Subject: ADD Version: Legion of the Rearguard
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 May 16 - 02:00 AM

I found a version with an additional verse here:

LEGION OF THE REARGUARD

CHORUS
Legion of the Rearguard, answering Ireland's call
Hark their martial tramp is heard - from Cork to Donegal
Tone and Emmet guide you, though your task be hard
DeValera will lead us, soldiers of the Legion of the Rearguard


Up the Republic, we raise our battle cry
Pearse and McDermott will pray for you and I
Eager and ready, for love of you we die
Proud march the soldiers of the Rearguard

Cork, Kerry, Wexford, Tipperary, Clare
Galway to Dublin - Tyrconnell to Kildare
None shall be missing - all Ireland will be there
Wait for the soldiers of the Rearguard

Glorious the morning, through flame and shot and shell
Now rally Ireland, your sons who love you well
Pledged, they'll defend you, through death or prison cell
Wait for the soldiers of the Rearguard

Crimson the roadside, the prison wall, the cave
Proof of their valour, go sleep in peace ye brave
Comrade, tread lightly, you're near a hero's grave
Proud die the soldiers of the Rearguard


Recording by Kathleen Largey:


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Subject: ADD Version: Legion of the Rearguard
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 May 16 - 02:07 AM

A version wih one more verse:

LEGION OF THE REARGUARD

Up the Republic, they raise their battle cry
Pearse and McDermott will pray for you on high
Eager and ready, for love of you they die
Proud march the Soldiers of the Rearguard

Chorus:
Legion of the rearguard, answering Ireland's call
Hark, the march and tramp is heard from Cork to Donegal
Wolfe Tone and Emmett guide you, though your task be hard
DeValera leads you, Soldiers of the Legion of the Rearguard

Glorious the morning through flame and shot and shell
Now, rally Ireland, your sons who love you well
Pledged they'll defend you, though death or prison cell
Wait for the Soldiers of the Rearguard

Chorus

Crimson the roadside, the prison walls, the cave
Proof of their valour, go sleep in peace ye brave
Comrades tread lightly, you're near a hero's grave
Proud die the Soldiers of the Rearguard

Chorus

Shell shattered fortress and shot scarred brigade
Trumpet the story of the glorious fight they made
Wearied, outnumbered, undaunted, unafraid
God bless the Soldiers of the Rearguard

Chorus


Source: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/soc.retirement/bv5_J_zpwXQ


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