The Croppie Boy
(Carrol Malone, 1845)
Good men and true in this house who dwell,
To a stranger buachall* I bid ye tell
Is the priest at home, or may he be seen
I would speak a word with Father Green.
"The priest's at home and he may be seen,
'Tis aisy speakin' with Father Green
But you must wait while I go and see
If the holy father alone may be."
The youth has entered an empty hall,
What a lonely sound makes his light footfall!
The gloomy chamber is chill and bare
With a vested priest in a lonely chair.
The lad has knelt to tell his sins
"In Nomine Deo" the youth begins,
At "Mea Culpa" he beats his breast
And in broken murmurs he speaks the rest.
I cursed three times since last Easter day,
At mass-time once I went to play
I passed the church yard one day in haste
And forgot to pray for my mother's rest.
At the siege of Ross did my father fall,
And at Gory my loving brothers all.
I alone am left of my name and race
I shall go to Wexford to take their place.
I bear no hate 'gainst no living thing
But I love my country above the King
Now, Father, bless me and let me go
To die, if God hath ordained it so.
The priest said naught, but a rustling noise
Made the boy look up in wild surmise;
The robes were gone, and in scarlet there
Stood a yeoman captain with fiery glare.
With fiery glare and with fury hoarse,
Instead of a blessing he breath'd a curse
" 'Twas a good thought, boy, to come here and shrive
For this one last hour's your time to live."
"On yonder river three tenders float,
Your priest's on one if he isn't shot
We hold this house for our lord, the King
And the men say, Aye! May all traitors swing."
At Geneva Valley the young man died,
And at Passage there was his body laid
Good people who live in peace and joy
Breathe a prayer, shed a tear for the Croppie boy.
* youth, or boy
(Recorded by Patrick Galvin on a Riverside 10", I think)