Battle of Garvagh


The day before the July fair
The Ribbonmen they did prepare
For three miles round to wreck and tear
And burn the town of Garvagh

The Tory whistle loud and shrill
We heard it o’er the high Mourne Hill
Fall on, brave boys, well slay and kill
The Protestants in Garvagh

The day came on, they did repair
In multitudes to Garvagh Fair
Some travelled thirty miles and more
To burn the town of Garvagh

They all appeared in greatest haste
White handkerchiefs tied round their wasts
But their jackets, we did soundly baste
That July fair in Garvagh

To Coleraine, straightaway we went
For aid, but none for us they sent
This bloody crew all to prevent
From their design on Garvagh

To Provines then we quick applied
For aid, which he soon us denied
Saying longest stands the toughest hide
I’ll find no aid for Garvagh

The Protestants and Orangemen
Like brothers did assemble then
To keep the town was their design
Or die like men in Garvagh

We fired blank shots of no avail
The Orange balls, they flew like hail
While Ribbonmen soon turned their tail
With deadly wounds from Garvagh

Then Captain Douay cried, brave boys
Maintain your cause and fear no noise
We’ll massacre these Orange boys
And burn the town of Garvagh

He had not turned himself well round
Till he received a deadly wound
His heels went up, his head went down
At the third tree in Garvagh

We gave the word to clear the street
While numbers flew like hunted sheep
When Protestants did Papists meet
At Davidsons in Garvagh

Oh then brave boys, if you had seen
‘Twas the best man through Ballinameen
While Orange boys pursued them keen
And cleared the town of Garvah

But mark what followed this affray
They thought to swear our lives away
To jail we went without delay
We had no guards from Garvagh

They horrid oaths against us swore
Such swearing, you ne’er heard before
McCluskey swore three hours of more
Against the Boys of Garvagh

The Judge then, he would us condemn
Had it not been for our jurymen
Our grateful thanks are due to them
For they cleared the Boys of Garvagh

All thanks and praise we’ll tender still
To Mr. Price and brave George Hill
The Beresfords befriend us still
For they cleared the Boys of Garvagh


Sir Phelim Roe O’Neill rebelled against the suppression of Catholics by Lord Deputy Wentworth in 1641. He captured the forts at Charlemount, Moneymore, Magherafelt and Bellaghy, along with most of the towns in Derry, Tyrone and Armagh. Edward Rowley of Castleroe and William Canning of Agivey were sent to stop the rebel army at Garvagh.

The Battle at Garvagh took place just south of Garvagh on the 12th and 13th of December 1641. The Garvaghy garrison fell on the second day with the loss of two hundred men. William Canning was captured and beheaded. His father, George Canning, and Edward Rowley continued to hold out at Agivey Castle but, after some time, they were forced to withdraw across the river Bann.

Song Clip



Song Themes

1641 Rebellion