Kelly, the Boy From Killanne

Melody - P. J. MacCall

P. J. MacCall

"What's the news? What's the news?
O my bold Shelmalier,
With your long-barrelled gun of the sea?
Say what wind from the sun
Blows his messenger here
With a hymn of the dawn for the free?"
"Goodly news, goodly news,
Do I bring, Youth of Forth;
Goodly news shall you hear, Bargy man!
For the Boys march at morn
From the South to the North,
Led by Kelly, the Boy from Killanne

"Tell me who is that giant
With the gold curling hair -
He who rides at the head of your band?
Seven feet is his height,
With some inches to spare,
And he looks Iike a King in command!"
"Ah, my lads, that's the pride
Of the bold Shelmaliers,
'mong our greatest of heroes, a Man!
Fling your beavers aloft
And give three ringing cheers
For John Kelly, the Boy from Killanne!"
  Enniscorthy's in flames,
And old Wexford is won,
And the Barrow to-morrow we cross,
On a hill o'er the town
We have planted a gun
That will batter the gateways of Ross!
All the Forth men and Bargy men
March o'er the heath,
With brave Harvey to lead on the van;
But the foremost of all
In the grim Gap of Death
Will be Kelly, the Boy from Killanne!"

But the gold sun of Freedom
Grew darkened at Ross,
And it set by the Slaney's red waves;
And poor Wexford, stript naked,
hung high on a cross,
And her heart pierced by traitors and slaves!
Glory O! Glory O!
To her brave sons who died
For the cause of long-down-trodden man!
Glory O! to Mount Leinster's
Own darling and pride
Dauntless Kelly, the Boy from Killanne.

This ballad tells of the Wexford rising in 1798 and the brief hour of glory enjoyed by the insurgent forces. John Kelly was the son of a well-to-do metchant in Killanne which is a small town in the barony of Bantry, Co.Wexford. He was a leader of the men of his district. His party joined the insurgents after the taking of Enniscorthy andhe was a leader of the party which cut off and defeated a party of reinforcements on their way to Wexford. Later he fought at Wexford, and was badly wounded while gallantly leading his men at New Ross. From there he was carried back to Wexford, and when the town was re-taken by the military he was hanged after a token-trial. After death his head was kicked around the street by soldiers. Brave Harvey is Bagenal Harvey, a Protestant landowner who was commander of the rebel forces at New Ross.

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