From the recording Six Strings and Coffee Beans

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P J McCall

Mark Clavey – lead vocals, guitar
Mary Hanover – vocals, hammered dulcimer
Rachel Gaither – vocals, fiddle

Here is one of the "hero songs" written by P J McCall (along with "Kelly, the Boy from Killane" and "Boolavogue") in the late 1800s, celebrating the exploits of Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne, "Firebrand of the Mountains". Lord of Ranelagh and leader of the O'Byrne clan in the late-1500s, O'Byrne was a folk-hero in WIcklow, a 'base Robin Hood' as Queen Elizabeth indignantly referred to him... a ruthless and brave character, cunning and adept at uniting factions or playing them against each other, who outwitted and out-fought the British for over 30 years. As his defiance grew more effective, so grew the desperation of the British to stop him - they offered a bounty of £150 for his capture or £100 for his head, vast amounts of money in the 1500s. The Battle of Glenmalure was O'Byrne's finest hour. He had won several battles against the British by the time Baron Arthur Grey de Wilton became Lord Deputy of Ireland and sent 6000 Redcoats against him. O'Byrne led a costly guerilla campaign against them in the mountainous terrain around Glenmalure, picking them off with sniper fire before going against them in hand-to-hand battle and utterly routing the English force. While "Follow Me Up to Carlow" became his battle-call and while there was an English military base in Carlow, there was (ironically) never an attack there.


Lift Mac Cahir Og your face, you're brooding o’er the old disgrace that Black Fitzwilliam stormed your place and drove you to the Fern. Grey said victory was sure, and soon the firebrand he’d secure, until he met at Glenmalure, with Fiach MacHugh 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, Fiach MacHugh has given the word – “Follow me up to Carlow.”

See the swords of Glen Imaal go flashing o’er the English Pale, see all the children of the Gael beneath O’Byrne’s banner. Rooster of a fighting stock, would you let an English cock crow out upon this Irish rock? Fly up and teach him manners.

Curse and swear, Lord Kildare, &c

Now from Tassagart to Clonmore there flows a stream of Saxon gore, and great is Rory Og O'More at sending loons to Hades. White is sick and Grey has fled. And now for Black Fitzwilliam's head – we'll send it over, dripping red, to Queen 'Liza and her ladies.

Curse and swear, Lord Kildare, &c