Ballyhooly races


A story I’ve to tell you, friends, and ’tis no false relation
‘Tis all about the thieving fiends that long oppressed this nation
The proctors and their heresies will shortly be sent packing
Their creed and doctrines all proved lies, their wines and victuals lacking
For my news is this great matter, boys, for which your hearts are yearning
The tithes we soon will scatter, without hope of their returning
The Orangemen we’ll batter, all their pleas for mercy spurning
The ministers will lose what’s theirs, their doors shut in their faces
Be sure that day will be far more gay than the Ballyhooly races

‘Twas at Gortroe our neighbours died through shooting fell and gory
The gates of heaven are opened wide to welcome them to glory
Almightly God will not forget these men, for all their boasting
On the gallows tree we’ll see them yet, or in a furnace roasting
If fire and gibbet they can cheat, for them there’s no repentance
They still must face the Judgement Seat and hear the dreadful sentence
Our martyrs will their pleas defeat, they’ll all of them be sent hence
The devil then will seize these men and put them through their paces
Be sure the day will be far more gay than the Ballyhooly Races

Three centuries the foreign race has ground us ‘neath the harrow
The sweat aye running down our face in travail and in sorrow
Our priests, proscribed, were forced to say their Mass in secret hollow
Each Sunday and each holy-day, alas! where few could follow
But the foreigners will tremble soon, their downfall is beginning
They’ll see their churches crumble soon, in spite of under-pinning
Each stone of them will tumble soon, their steeples all sent spinning
We’ll finish with the ministers, of their work we’ll leave no traces
Be sure that day will be far more gay than the Ballyhooly races


This is an anti-tithes song dating from about 1830. At the time, everybody had to pay tithes to the established church.

The massacre of Gortroe (near Fermoy, Co Cork) occurred on 18 Dec 1834 when Rev Archdeacon William Ryder went to collect tithes of four pounds 16 shillings from the widow Ryan. He was accompanied by foot soldiers, dragoons and police. Against this armed force were 150 protestors. The Riot Act was read without any provocation being offered, and Ryder gave orders to fire. Nine protestors were shot dead before soldiers seized four stacks of corn adjacent to the cottage in satisfaction of Ryder’s demand for tithes. These facts were given in sworn evidence at the coroner’s inquest. Although a verdict of ‘wilful murder’ was returned, no action was taken against the murderers.

Song Clip



Song Themes

Tithes War