Blacksmith of Limerick


He grasped his ponderous hammer, he could not stand it more
To hear the bombshells bursting, and thundering battle’s roar
He said ‘The breach they’re mounting, the Dutchman’s murdering crew
I’ll try my hammer on their heads and see what that can do’

‘Now, swarthy Ned and Moran, make up that iron well
’tis Sarsfield’s horse that wants the shoes so mind not shot or shell’
‘Ah, sure’ cried both ‘the horse can wait for Sarsfield’s on the wall
And where you go we’ll follow, with you to stand or fall’

The blacksmith raised his hammer, and rushed into the street
His ’prentice boys behind him, the ruthless foe to meet
High on the breach of Limerick, with dauntless hearts they stood
Where bombshells burst and shot fell thick and redly ran the blood

‘Now look you, brown-haired Moran, and mark you, swarthy Ned
This day we’ll prove the thickness of many a Dutchman’s head
Hurrah, upon their bloody path they’re mounting gallantly
And now the first that tops the breach, leave him to this and me’

The first that gained the rampart, he was a captain brave
A captain of the grenadiers with blood-stained dirk and glaive
He pointed and he parried, but it was all in vain
For fast through skull and helmet, the hammer found his brain

The next that topped the rampart, he was a colonel bold
Bright, through the dust of battle, his helmet flashed with gold
‘Gold is no match for iron’ the doughty blacksmith said
As with that ponderous hammer, he cracked his foeman’s head

‘Hurrah for gallant Limerick’ black Ned and Moran cried
As on the Dutchmen’s leaden heads, their hammers well they plied
A bombshell burst between them, one fell without a groan
One leaped into the lurid air and down the breach was thrown

‘Brave smith, brave smith’ cried Sarsfield, ‘beware the treacherous mine
Brave smith, brave smith, fall backward, or surely death is thine’
The smith sprang up the rampart, and leaped the blood-stained wall
As high into the shuddering air went foemen, breach and all

Up like a red volcano, they thundered wild and high
Spear, gun and shattered standard, and foemen through the sky
And dark and bloody was the shower that round the blacksmith fell
He thought upon his ’prentice boys, they were avengéd well

On foemen and defenders, a silence gathered down
’Twas broken by a triumph shout that shook the ancient town
As out its heroes sallied, and bravely charged and slew
And taught King William and his men what Irish hearts could do

Down rushed the swarthy blacksmith unto the river side
He hammered on the foe’s pontoon to sink it in the tide
The timber, it was tough and strong, it took no crack or strain
‘Mavrone, it won’t break’, the blacksmith roared; ‘I’ll try their heads again’

He rushed upon the flying ranks, his hammer ne’er was slack
For in through blood and bone it crashed, through helmet and through jack
He’s ta’en a Holland captain, beside the red pontoon
And ‘Wait you here’ he boldly cries, ‘I’ll send you back full soon’

‘Dost see this gory hammer? It cracked some skulls to-day
And yours ’twill crack if you don’t stand and list to what I say
Here, take it to your curséd king and tell him softly too
’Twould be acquainted with his skull if he were here, not you’

The blacksmith sought his smithy, and blew his bellows strong
He shod the steed of Sarsfield, but o’er it sang no song
‘Ochone! my boys are dead’ he cried, ‘their loss I’ll long deplore
But comfort’s in my heart, their graves are red with foreign gore’

Limerick 1

Songs of Limerick


Written by Robert Dwyer Joyce (1830–1883)



Song Themes

Siege of Limerick