John Keegan Casey (Leo)

Leo Casey (1846-1870) was proud of the efforts made by the United Irishmen of Longford and Westmeath in 1798. The "Singing River" is the Inny which flows into the Shannon from his native area between Mullingar and Ballymahon. He wrote many songs, including "Máire My Girl" and was active in the Fenian Brotherhood. By coincidence, his birthday was 22nd August, the same as General Humbert’s and the date Humbert landed at Killala, in 1798. He died when he was only 23 as a result of the rigours of imprisonment. It is said that 50,000 people marched in his funeral procession in Dublin and that 150,000 more looked on. Thousands walked to Dublin from Longford, Westmeath and Roscommon to pay their respects.

"Oh then, tell me, Shawn O'FarreIl, tell me why you hurry so?"
"Huse, me bouchal, hush and listen," and his cheeks were all a-glow:
"I bear orders from the captain - get you ready quick and soon;
For the pikes must be together at the risin' of the moon."

"Oh, then tell me, Shawn O'Farrell, where the gath'rin is to be?"
"ln the old spot by the river, right well known to you and me;
One more word - for signal token, whistle up the marchin' tune.
With your pike upon your shoulder, by the risin' of the moon."

Out from many a mud wall cabin eyes were watching through that night;
Many a manly heart was throbbing for the blessed warning light.
Murmurs passed along the valleys, like the banshee's lonely croon.
And a thousand blades were flashing at the risin' of the moon.

There, beside the singing river, that dark mass of men was seen,
Far above the shining weapons hung their own beloved green.
"Death to every foe and traitor! Forward! Strike the marchin' tune,
And hurrah, my boys, for freedom; 'tis the risin' of the moon."

Well they fought for poor old Ireland, and full bitter was their fate;
(Oh, what glorious pride and sorrow fills the name of Ninety-Eight!)
Yet, thank God, e'en still are beating hearts in manhood's burning noon,
Who would follow in their footsteps at the risin' of the moon!


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