Battle of Kilcumney

Lyrics

It was in the year of Ninety-Eight, the time of Blood and War
Where many a Saxon quaked beneath the Rebels’ vengeful blow
The British troops, they had to fly, like chaff before the gale
When they heard the dreadful war-cry of the sons of Grainne Uaile

On June the Sixth and Twentieth, I heard the people say
The Battle of Kilcumney was fought and lost that day
The rebels they were routed though they fought with right good will
And many a pikeman wandered that night upon the hill

The sun was brightly shining on that Summer afternoon
Like burnished gold was gleaming each helmeted dragoon
Nine mounted Ancient Briton troops knocked at John Murphy’s gate
They burst the wicket open, no answer would they wait

Four were posted outside, the other five within
With short delay their hellish work, those tyrants did begin
They heeded not the women’s cries but struck the ready match
And soon the blazes mounted high from rafters, beam and thatch

Grimly smiled those bloodhounds, on each bearded face a grin
Little thinking of the deadly foe that lay concealed within
Four of Wexford’s bravest boys when ended was the fray
Had sought shelter in the barn and hid beneath the hay

The leader of those Wexford boys peeped from out the door
“Five troopers in the yard without, within we’re only four
Many a fray we’ve fought boys, with numbers one to two
Another blow for Ireland” and the door he bursted through

Five horses without riders soon were prancing in the yard
The other four ‘neath the whip and spur are pressing fast and hard
To gain the shelter of the camp in yonder vale below
Each head was turned to see if came the pikemen quick or slow

When a maiden stepped from the house, her hair was raven black
She picked up a trooper’s pistol and jumped on a horse’s back
As swift as e’er a racehorse, yet was by a jockey rode
She spurred her noble charger up the Ballyellen Road

When she came beside the stream that ripples by the mill
She turned around and saw full close beside her on the hill
One of those hunted troopers demanding her to stand
She gave him ready answer with the pistol in her hand

Dashed she over ditch and dike until she reached the height
Where the rebels’ silent watch fires were burning through the night
From yonder ruin and ivy tower in flight the birds had flown
To hear the cheers that greeted Theresa Malone.

She sleeps beneath the green sod in Ballinkillen Chapel yard
She saw the dawning of the day that nothing could retard
She lived till old, she passed away, “Peace to her soul” we pray
We have maidens yet, thank God, like her and plenty here today


Notes

After the collapse of the 1798 rebellion in Wexford, retreating rebels arrived at Kilcumney Hill near Borris in County Carlow and set up camp. On 26th of June, the camp was surrounded and attacked by crown troops who had moved in during the night. Some rebels escaped back across the mountain into Wexford, but those who had fallen behind were slaughtered. The crown forces ran amuck, wreaking their vengeance on the peaceable local inhabitants who had remained in their homes. According to legend, local heroin Teresa Malone displayed skilled horsemanship when relaying warnings about the imminent danger to local farmers. Teresa lived to the age of 90 and is buried in Ballinkillen Chapel yard.

Teresa Malone memorial


Song Clip


County

Carlow


Songwriter