THE CROPPY BOY (A Ballad of '98)
(Air: Cailín Óg a Stór)
In the 1790s Irish Republicans began to crop their hair short in the new French fashion. Hence the name "Croppy".
"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 cupla," be 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.
With fiery glare and with fury hoarse,
Instead of a 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 this house for our lord and King,
And, Amen, say I, may all traitors swing!"
At Geneva Barracks that young man died,
And at Passage they have his body laid.
Good people, who live in peace and joy,
Breathe a prayer, shed a tear for the Croppy Boy.