Killoughey Barracks


Come all you true-bred Irishmen wherever you may be
I hope you’ll pay attention and listen unto me
It’s of a brave young hero as you may understand
That simply made his fortune all on his father’s land

Some time he spent brick making ‘til he had his fortune made
And for a rack-rent farm, a heavy purchase paid
Not knowing how the times might go, he spent his money free
To maintain a rack-rent farm near the town of Clonaslee.

He kept his pockets loaded and held it for three years
Paying heavy rates and cesses with neither dread nor fear
‘til at last he saw the times grow bad, not able for to pay
He was resolved to leave his home and draw his crop away

He gave his friends all warning, the night they were to go
Five hundred strong, they did roll on, not fearing any foe
Five hundred strong, they did roll on as you may plainly see
And they loaded hay and corn near the town of Clonaslee

Hall being Sergeant at the time, he saw them going that night
He sent word unto Mountbolus where Balfour he did reside
To grant him some assistance, likewise some powder and ball
For he swore he’d stop the Rahan boys or else he’d shoot them all

It was when we were all loaded, then to our great surprise
The night grew dark and dreary and dismal were the skies
But still our Rahan heroes determined home to go
And ‘twas at Killoughey Barracks that they met a daring foe

Those bulldogs with their bayonets fixed, they tried to make us stand
But still our gallant Irish boys determined to roll on
When Keyes took the Sergeant by the breast for to prevent all strife
He scarcely thought ‘twas someone’s lot that night to lose his life

While Hall discoursed with Balfour, young Keyes stood near his side
Saying ‘Johnny Keyes, it is my name, in Rahan I reside
My crop is under no seizure, my name it is John Keyes
And without a Magistrate’s order, I’ll roam the King’s highways’

The Sergeant now sees danger and give his men command
To fire upon the Rahan boys as you may understand
Their fingers swift, their triggers drew, their carbines they let fly
But as the Lord decreed it, their bullets passed us by

Our Irish blood flowed in our veins when we heard the first discharge
Instead of flinching from our ranks, our numbers did enlarge
Our musket ball fell on their wall, their windows down we tore
And five of those cursed peelers, we left lying in their gore

Each man like lightning to his gun, his musket he let fly
Determined for a victory or at the cross to die
We turned to load our rifles but the Peelers were all gone
With loud cheers and acclamations, we bade the cars roll on

Success attend the Rahan boys and Killoughey of renown
There wasn’t a drop of informer blood among them to be found
They clasped the secret to their breasts, on them you may depend
Though with knowledge of the deed there was five hundred men

My curse attend you Sergeant Hall, ‘twas you began the fight
A highwayman you were by day and a murderer by night
My curse attend you Sergeant Hall, ‘twas you that led the van
By night and day, we’ll always say, from fear your Peelers ran

Here’s success to you Munu Kelly, the resident of Doorey
Because you were no perjured man, you thought to make us free
For eighteen hours of pleading all in the witness box
And behind you stood O’Brien and the worthy Major Fox.

There was one man amongst us and his name was Johnny Keyes
Like a soldier on a battlefield, the flag of freedom raised
He deserted from his parents, in disguise he had to roam
But we’ll have the bonfires blazing to welcome Johnny home.


Michael Fox’s song tells the story of Johnny Keyes excursion with his neighbours, to retrieve corn from land he had leased in Clonaslee.  The RIC lay in wait for them at Killoughey Barracks where an RIC man was shot. Johnny was smuggled to America and, due to silence, no one was tried.

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Land League