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Updated 02/28/2020


The Protestant Boys

The Protestant Boys uses the tune, "Lillibullero" (also spelled Lillibulero, Lilliburlero); a march that became popular in England at the time of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. According to the BBC, it "started life as a jig with Irish roots, whose first appearance seems to be in a collection published in London in 1661 entitled 'An Antidote Against Melancholy', where it is set to the words 'There was an old man of Waltham Cross'.

"Lillibulero" first became popular during the late Summer of 1688, around the time King James II began transferring Irish regiments to England. It spread as a popular street song in English towns, and especially inside English barracks, to mock the arriving Irish regiments. The song gained further cachet later that year as a political tune by supporters of William of Orange during the invasion. Additional verses were added to Wharton's original lyrics after William's landing in November 1688. The song was picked up by Williamite troops, and subsequently carried by them to Ireland.

The Protestant Boys, is an Ulster Protestant folk lyric which is played by flute bands accompanying the Orange Order during Orange or band-only parades, which have been the subject of controversy during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.


The Protestant Boys are loyal and true
Stout hearted in battle and stout-handed too
The Protestant Boys are true to the last
And faithful and peaceful when danger has passed
And Oh! they bear
And proudly wear
The colours that floated o'er many a fray
Where cannons were flashing
And sabres were clashing
The Protestant Boys still carried the day

When James half a bigot, and more of a knave
With masses and Frenchmen the land would enslave
The Protestant Boys for liberty drew
And showed with the Orange the banner of Blue
And Derry (*) well
Their might can tell
Who first in their ranks did the Orange display
The Boyne had no shyers
And Aughrim no flyers
And Protestant Boys still carried the day

When treason was rampant and traitors were strong
And law was defied by a vile rebel throng
When thousands were banded the throne to cast down
The Protestants rallied and stood by the Crown
And oft in fight
By day and night
They countered the rebels in many a fray
Where red pikes were bristling
And bullets were whistling
The Protestant Boys still carried the day

And still does the fame of their glory remain
Unclouded by age and undimmed by a stain
And ever and ever their cause well uphold
The cause of the true and the trusted and bold
And scorn to yield
Or quit the field
While over our heads the old colors shall play
And traitors shall tremble
When' er we assemble
For Protestant Boys shall carry the day

The Protestant Boys are loyal and true
Though fashions are changed and the loyal are few
The Protestant Boys are true to the last
Though cowards belie them when danger has past
Aye still we stand
A loyal band
And reck not the liars whatever they say
For let the drums rattle
The summons to battle
The Protestant Boys must carry the day