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Updated 05/14/2013


The Boys of Wexford
Arthur Warren Darley

Wexford (from the Old Norse: Waes Fjord meaning "inlet of the mud flats", also Irish: Loch Garman) is the county town of County Wexford in the Republic of Ireland. It is situated near the south-eastern tip of Ireland.  Wexford lies on the south side of Wexford Harbour, the estuary of the River Slaney. The town was settled by the Vikings in about 800 AD. They named it Waes Fjord, inlet of the mud flats, and the name has changed only slightly into its present form.

County Wexford was the centre of the 1798 rebellion against English rule. Wexford town was held by the rebels throughout the fighting and was the scene of a notorious massacre of local loyalists by the United Irishmen, who executed them on the bridge in the centre of Wexford town.

The Boys of Wexford is a famous Irish ballad commemorating the Irish Rebellion of 1798. The ballad was lyrics were composed by Patrick Joseph McCall and music by Arthur Warren Darley, who also composed other Wexford ballads "Boolavogue", "Kelly the Boy from Killanne".  Patrick Joseph McCall (6 March1861 – 1919) was an Irish poet, known mostly as the author of lyrics for popular ballads.  He was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of John McCall, where he attended St. Joseph’s Monastery, Harold’s Cross, a Catholic University school.  He spent his summer holidays in Rathangan, County Wexford where he spent time with local musicians and ballad singers. He also collected many old Irish airs, but is probably best remembered for his patriotic ballads. He attended Catholic University School in Dublin.

Arthur Warren Darley (1873-1929) was an Irish Fiddle player, composer, music teacher and examiner as well as a traditional music archivist.  Darley was born in Dun laoghaire and first lived in Silchester Road. He was a grandnephew of poet George Darley. His father Henry Warren Darley had converted to Catholicism. In 1923 he purchased a house in Northumberland Road, Dublin. His family was musical both in traditional and classical. His grandfather played the uilleann pipes and fiddle, his father played fiddle and viola and Arthur played fiddle and piano. Arthur was playing the fiddle well at 8 years of age. He was a fellow in The College of Violinists, London, Professor of Leinster School of Music & Drama, Director of the municipal School of Music, and was deeply interested in Irish Music. He met Patrick Joseph McCall who spent much of his time in Wexford. Together they collected old tunes and Ossian Publications published them.


In comes the captain's daughter,
The captain of the Yeos,
Saying: Brave United Irishmen,
We'll ne'er again be foes.
A thousand pounds I'll bring
If you will fly from home with me,
And dress myself in man's attire
And fight for liberty.  

We are the boys of Wexford,
Who fought with heart and hand
To burst in twain the galling chain
And free our native land.  

I want no gold, my maiden fair,
To fly from home with thee;
You shining eyes will be my prize -
More dear than gold to me.
I want no gold to nerve my arm
To do a true man's part -
To free my land I'd gladly give
The red drops of my heart."


And when we left our cabins, boys,
We left with right good will
To see our friends and neighbours
That were at Vinegar Hill!
A young man from our Irish ranks
A cannon he let go;
He slapt it into Lord Mountjoy -
A tyrant he laid low!


We bravely fought and conquered
At Ross and Wexford town;
Three Bullet Gate for years to come
Will speak of our renown;
Through Walpole's horse and Walpole's foot
On Tubberneering's day,
Depending on the long, bright pike,
We cut our gory way.


And Oulart's name shall be their shame,
Whose steel we ne'er did fear.
For every man could do his part
Like Forth and Shelmalier!
And if for want of leaders,
We lost at Vinegar Hill,
We're ready for another fight,
And love our country still!