Henry Joy McCracken was born in High Street, Belfast, in 1767. A member of one of the most notable Presbyterian commercial families in that city, he joined the Society of United Irishmen and led the Republican forces when they captured Antrim town from the British garrison in 1798. Arrested after the insurrection, he was courtmartialled and hanged in the Cornmarket, Belfast, on the evening of July 17th, 1798. His sister Mary Ann walked arm-in-arm with him to the gallows. This Belfast street ballad was written about 1800.

click here to learn more about Henry Joy and to read the story of is life commited to a united and free Ireland.

An Ulsterman I am proud to be,
From the Antrim Glens I come,
Although I labour by the sea,
I have followed flag and drum.
I have heard the martial tramp of men;
I've seen them fight and die,
Ah! lads I well remember when
I followed Henry Joy.

I pulled my boat in from the sea,
I hid my sails away.
I hung my nets upon a tree
And scanned the moonlit bay.
The boys were out, the redcoats too,
I bade my wife good-bye,
And there beneath the greenwood glade
I followed Henry Joy.

Ah, lads, for Ireland's cause we fought
For home and sire we bled.
Though our arms were few, our hearts beat true
And five to one lay dead.
And many a lassie missed her lad
And mother mourned her boy,
For youth was strong in the dashing throng
That followed Henry Joy.

In Belfast town they built a tree
And the redcoats mustered there,
I watched him come as the roll of the drum
Sounded on the barrack square.
He kissed his sister, went aloft
Then waved a last good-bye
Ah ! lads he died, I turned and cried
They have murdered Henry Joy.


This page is a part of Philipp's Home Of The Free.