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Origin: The Croppy Boy

21 Jan 97 - 10:57 PM (#1542)
Subject: The Croppy Boy
From: fthomas

Lyrics and background please

22 Jan 97 - 05:10 AM (#1549)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE CROPPY BOY



It was early, early in the spring
The birds did whistle and sweetly sing,
Changing their notes from tree to tree
And the song they sang was Old Ireland free.

It was early early in the night,
The yeoman cavalry gave me a fright;
The yeoman cavalry was my downfall
And I was taken by Lord Cornwall.

'Twas in the guard-house where I was laid,
And in a parlour where I was tried;
My sentence passed and my courage low
When to Dungannon I was forced to go.

As I was passing my father's door
My brother William stood at the door;
My aged father stood at the door
And my tender mother her hair she tore.

As I was going up Wexford Street
My own first cousin I chanced to meet;
My own first cousin did me betray
And for one bare guinea swore my life away.

As I was walking up Wexford Hill
Who could blame me to cry my fill?
I looked behind, and I looked before
But my aged mother I shall see no more.

And as I mounted the platform high
My aged father was standing by;
My aged father did me deny
And the name he gave me was the Croppy Boy.

It was in Dungannon this young man died
And in Dungannon his body lies.
And you good people that do pass by
Oh shed a tear for the Croppy Boy.

(Recorded by Patrick Galvin, Clancys)


22 Jan 97 - 04:08 PM (#1568)
Subject: RE: The Croppy Boy
From: Martin Ryan

Background: Refers to Irish Rebellion of 1798 - inspired by French Revolution mainly. Often quoted as the last time Catholics and Protestants fought on the same side against the "British" - but things are never that simple in Ireland! It was only some protestants (presbyterians) and they were careful to fight at opposite ends of the country!

"croppy boy" is said to come from the nasty habit at the time of shaving the scalps of rebels and covering them with pitch.

There is a second song of the same name to a different air.

I think the song was written for the centenary - not sure. It and many others will get a fresh airing next year!


22 Jan 97 - 09:37 PM (#1581)
Subject: RE: The Croppy Boy
From: dick greenhaus

The database contains (at least)two different Croppy Boys -- both good songs. dick

04 May 08 - 05:00 AM (#2332460)
Subject: RE: The Croppy Boy
From: Mr Happy

What does it mean 'Croppy?'

04 May 08 - 05:43 AM (#2332481)
Subject: RE: The Croppy Boy
From: Fergie

Many of the dissenters had their hair shorn short in a distinctive cropped style and subsequently they became known as Croppies. The term was used initially by loyalists in a disparaging manner (see "Croppies Lie Down), but after the rebellion it was used by those that supported the uprising as a term of of honour.


04 May 08 - 05:47 AM (#2332483)
Subject: RE: The Croppy Boy
From: Mr Happy


Wow, that was quick, thanks!

04 May 08 - 07:34 AM (#2332527)
Subject: RE: The Croppy Boy
From: quokka

There are several terms that started out life as disparaging terms but have been reclaimed by the 'victims' as terms of honour - maybe this topic deserves a folklore thread....I guess I should start one!

04 May 08 - 10:46 AM (#2332603)
Subject: RE: The Croppy Boy
From: GUEST,The laureate wrote:

reqiuem for the croppies

The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley -
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp -
We moved quick and sudden in our own country
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.

A people, hardly marching - on the hike -
We found new tactics happening each day:
We'd cut through reins and rider with the pike
And stampede cattle into infantry,
Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.

Until, on Vinegar Hill, the fatal conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August the barley grew up out of the grave.

04 May 08 - 10:52 AM (#2332606)
Subject: RE: The Croppy Boy

or hear here

04 May 08 - 10:56 AM (#2332609)
Subject: RE: The Croppy Boy
From: MartinRyan

Seamus Heaney


04 May 08 - 11:27 AM (#2332631)
Subject: RE: The Croppy Boy
From: DannyC

Heaney came to Kentucky a few years ago to collect an academic honor (and get over to Churchill Downs on the First Saturday in May). The Hallowed Halls crowd were apparantly nervous about the trip to the racetrack so they enlisted a stableman friend of mine (from the Ring in Waterford) to go along for the ride, have the chat in Irish, and usher the laureate thru the meandering backstretch alleys (not a place for esteemed academics).

My buddy took the wheel. Halfway to the track, the poet says he wouldn't mind having a cup of coffee. My buddy says, "Not a bother - there's a McDonald's just beyond at the next Interstate exit". (He reports there was a discernable gasp from the stuffed shirted freeloaders crammed into the backseats.)   Heaney says, "McDonald's - That'll be grand."

After dumping the elite at the celebrity gate, my buddy took the laureate on a guided tour thru the mangers. After the visitation, they had to walk across the racing surface to get to their assigned seats where my friend had a lovely moment with the man as they stopped to toe at the soil in the lane. Heaney talked with wonder about the dirt's loamey quality and the loose cushion it must provide. The man clearly keeps a pronounced interest in the turf, sod and soil of this world.... feels the poetry in it, I suppose.

It's a shame about that beautiful filly yesterday.   Did you see her go after that great colt ... he's too good, she'd never have gotten to him... she just wouldn't quit... too much heart.    It was a terrible thing to watch her die.

24 Mar 09 - 01:15 PM (#2596255)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE CROPPY BOY (Carroll Malone)
From: Jim Dixon

This is the other song called THE CROPPY BOY; it corresponds to THE CROPPIE BOY in the DT, but that copy has a few inaccuracies, so I think it's worth pasting this version here.

From The Ballad Poetry of Ireland 5th ed., edited by Charles Gavan Duffy (Dublin: James Duffy, 1845)

A Ballad of '98.
By Carroll Malone.

"Good men and true! in this house who dwell,
To a stranger bouchal, I pray you tell
Is the priest at home? or may he be seen?
I would speak a word with Father Green."

"The Priest's at home, boy, and may be seen;
'Tis easy speaking with Father Green;
But you must wait, till I go and see
If the holy father alone may be."

The youth has entered an empty hall—
What a lonely sound has his light foot-fall!
And the gloomy chamber's chill and bare,
With a vested Priest in a lonely chair.

The youth has knelt to tell his sins:
"Nomine Dei," the youth begins;
At "mea culpa" he beats his breast,
And in broken murmurs he speaks the rest.

"At the siege of Ross did my father fall,
And at Gorey my loving brothers all.
I alone am left of my name and race,
I will go to Wexford and take their place.

"I cursed three times since last Easter day—
At mass-time once I went to play;
I passed the churchyard one day in haste,
And forgot to pray for my mother's rest.

"I bear no hate against living thing;
But I love my country above my King.
Now, Father! bless me, and let me go
To die, if God has ordained it so."

The Priest said nought, but a rustling noise
Made the youth look above in wild surprise;
The robes were off, and in scarlet there
Sat a yeoman captain with fiery glare.

With fiery glare and with fury hoarse,
Instead of blessing, he breathed a curse:—
"'Twas a good thought, boy, to come here and shrive,
For one short hour is your time to live.

"Upon yon river three tenders float,
The Priest's in one, if he isn't shot—
We hold his house for our Lord the King,
And, amen say I, may all traitors swing!"

At Geneva Barrack that young man died,
And at Passage they have his body laid.
Good people who live in peace and joy,
Breathe a prayer and a tear for the Croppy Boy.

24 Mar 09 - 02:25 PM (#2596304)
Subject: RE: Origin: The Croppy Boy
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh

Further to Jim Dixon's posting above, Carroll Malone was a nom de plume, the author seeming to be a Dr James McBurney of Belfast; I don't know where I read this, or how authoritative the identification might be. John McCormack recorded six verses out of the eleven, in 1907, in three groups of two with a chord or two separating each group (verses 1 & 2, 5 & 6, 8 & 11).

24 Mar 09 - 03:09 PM (#2596339)
Subject: RE: Origin: The Croppy Boy
From: MartinRyan


yes - "Carroll Malone" was James McBurney - I'll post some details later, if I can find them...


24 Mar 09 - 04:25 PM (#2596413)
Subject: RE: Origin: The Croppy Boy
From: Matthew Edwards

The incident on which both versions of The Croppy Boy is based is recounted in Zimmerman's 'Songs of Irish Rebellion' p.229. He quotes from an anecdote in William John Fitzpatrick's book - "The Sham Squire;" and the Informers of 1798, with a view of their contemporaries. To which are added, in the form of an appendix, Jottings about Ireland Seventy Years Ago'.

"About the same time, and in the same county, [Wexford] the yeomanry, after having sacked the chapel and hunted the priest, deputed one of their corps to enter the confessional and personate the good pastor. In the course of the day some young men on their way to the battle of Oulart, dropped in for absolution. One, who disclosed his intention, and craved the personated priest's blessing, was retorted upon with a curse, while the yeoman, losing patience, flung off the soutane, revealing beneath his scarlet uniform. The youth was shot upon the spot, and his grave is still shown at Passage."

There are several online editions of "The Sham Squire": the passage quoted above may be read on page 196 of the 1866 Boston edition which is reproduced online in The Internet Archive at The Sham Squire.

Zimmerman also commented in a footnote (p.39) about the term "croppies":- 'In the 1790's those who admired the Jacobin ideas began to crop their hair short on the back of their head, in what was said to be the new French fashion; in 1798 this was considered as an evidence of disaffection.'

24 Mar 09 - 04:45 PM (#2596436)
Subject: RE: Origin: The Croppy Boy
From: Thompson

And if you'd like to read an on-the-spot report of the Croppies - the United Irishmen, that is - and the Rising of 1798, take a look for Mary Leadbeater in Google Books.

A writer born and brought up in, and living at the centre of, the Quaker settlement of around 1,000 people in Ballitore, Co Kildare, she was a lifelong correspondent of her old schoolmate and friend Edmund Burke, and an influential voice in her time.

The Annals of Ballitore is now being reissued in a handsome edition by Kildare County Council.

24 Mar 09 - 05:53 PM (#2596496)
Subject: RE: Origin: The Croppy Boy
From: MartinRyan

There's some information on McBurney HERE