Follow me up to Carlow


Lift, Mac Cahir Og your face, brooding o’er the old disgrace
That black Fitzwilliam stormed your place and drove you to the ferns
Grey said victory was sure, soon the firebrand he’d secure
Until he met at Glenmalure, Fiach Mc Hugh O’Byrne

Curse and swear, Lord Kildare, Fiach will do what Fiach will dare
Now Fitzwilliam have a care, fallen is your star low
Up with halberd, out with sword, on we’ll go for by the Lord
Fiachh Mc Hugh has given the word, follow me up to Carlow.

See the swords of Glen lmaal, flashing o’er the English Pale
See all the children of the Gael beneath O’Byrne’s banners
Rooster of a fighting stock, would you let a Saxon cock
Crow out upon an Irish rock, fly up and teach you manners ?

From Tasagart to Clonmore flows a stream of Saxon gore
Well great is Rory Og O’More at sending loons to Hades
White is sick and Grey is fled, now for black Fitzwilliam’s head
We’ll send it over dripping red to Lizzie and her ladies


This song, written by P.J. McCall is the call by Fiach McHugh O’Byrne (1534–1597) to dislodge the British troops from their garrison at Carlow. O’Byrne was Lord of Ranelagh and sometime leader of the O’Byrne clan during the Elizabethan conquest of Ireland. The clan held sway from South Dublin through the Wicklow mountains to north County Wexford. The territory had been under the nominal authority of a sheriff, but in 1580, the new Lord Deputy of Ireland, Arthur Grey, arrived with 6,000 troops to take control of the area. He was roundly beaten at the Battle of Glenmalure.
During his career, O’Byrne supported his brother-in-law, Rory Oge O’More during the Second Desmond Rebellion, and aided Hugh Roe O’Donnell in his escape from Dublin Castle. O’Byrne’s other brother-in-law Brian MacCahir and his family had been evicted by William Fitzwilliam, who was Lord Deputy of Ireland at the time.

Battle of Glenmalure

Battle of Glenmalure – 25th August 1580 – Watercolour painting by Val Byrne, chieftain of The O’Byrne Clan

Carlow 1

Songs of Carlow

Song clip – Marika



Song Themes


P J McColl