Maurice O'Neill


It rings through the mountains of Kerry
From Tarbert to Cahersiveen
And wakens proud memories of valour
In the fights of the days that have been
And out o’er the green fields of Ireland
It sweeps with a loud welling peal
That cry full of anger and sorrow
They have murdered young Maurice O’Neill

And a prayer rises up from the faithful
The faithful in woe and weal
This night ‘mong the martyrs of Ireland
God rest you brave maurice O’Neill

He sprang from a long line of free men
Who never bent knee to the foe
And his heart gave unfaltering alegiance
To a cause that was trampled and low
He came to the red gap of danger
Where thousands had fallen before
He died like a Gael and a soldier
And his memory is green evermore

His name shines through the darkness of thraldom
Shines out like the flashing of steel
And the true heart of Ireland is calling,
God bless you brave Maurice O’Neill

Let no voice plead for me with the traitors
He cried, when the death hour was nigh
May the young men be faithful forever
To the cause that has caused me to die
When the deathless Republic of Ireland
Is rescued from thraldom and shame
I ask but a place in her memory
And her soldiers’ salute to my name

And the young men of Ireland make answer
When the foemen in front of us reel
As we march to the dawn light of freedom
You will march with us Maurice O’Neill


Written by Brian O’Higgins

Maurice O’Neill (1917 – 1942) was from Letter, Caherciveen, Co Kerry. On 24th October 1942, O’Neill and his comrade Harry White were staying as guests at 14 Holly Road, Donnycarney, Dublin, in preperation for a rendezvous with other members of the l.R.A. on the following day. Leaving by the back door, they proceeded through the back garden to a lane-way separating Holly Road from Oak Road. There, they were engages in a gun battle with special branch detectives, one of whom was shot dead. Maurice O’Neill was captured but Harry White made good his escape through a house on Oak Road. O’Neill was charged under Emergency Powers order and executed by hanging on 1 December 1942.

Now I have to include a personal note. 5 Oak Road, the house through which Harry White made his escape belonged to my father’s cousin, Willie Wills. His 16 year old daughter Challie (Charlotte) was ironing a blouse in the kitchen when White dashed through with policemen chasing after him. Four years later, White was arrested in Derry on 24 October 1946. My cousin Challie, who would have been a key witness at his trial, was run down by a car and killed that same day as she cycled home from mass. White was convicted of murder. His death sentenced was reduced on appeal to 12 years penal servitude.

Song Clip