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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Follow me up to Carlow

Follow Me Up to Carlow
Lift MacCahir Og your face
Brooding o'er the old disgrace
That Black FitzWilliam stormed your place
And drove you to the fern.
Grey said victory was sure
Soon the firebrand he'd secure
Until he met at Glenmalure
With Feach MacHugh O' Byrne.
Curse and swear Lord Kildare
Feach will do what Feach 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
Feach MacHugh has given the word--
"Follow me up to Carlow!"
See the swords of Glen Imayle
Flashing o'er the English pale
See all the children of the Gael
Beneath O'Byrne's banners
Rooster of a fighting stock
Would you let a Saxon cock
Crow out upon an Irish rock?
Fly up and teach him manners!
From Tassagart to Clonmore
Flows a stream of Saxon gore
Och, great is Rory Og O' More
At sending the loons to Hades
White is sick and Lane is fled
Now for Black FitzWilliam's head
We'll send it over, dripping red
To Queen Liza and her ladies!
Lyrics by Patrick Joseph McCall (1861 - 1919)
music attributed to MacHugh's pipers at the Battle of Glenmalure, 1580

Glenmalure is a valley in the Wicklow Mountains, south of Dublin. In 1580 Feach MacHugh O'Byrne fought and won against the English army, who were lead by Lord Grey de Wilton. It was a turning-point event, and part of a wider revolt that was initiated by the Fitzgeralds. The revolt ended in failure, but Grey's defeat was a significant victory. O'Byre's stronghold was at the eastern end of the glen and there are some ruins of it remaining on Ballincor Mountain in Wicklow.

The victory is commemorated in this poem of Patrick Joseph McCall.

"Follow Me Up to Carlow"

This is what I can tell you about the song:

Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam of Merrion, Baggotrath, Booterstown and Simmonscourt, born c.1519 married Genet Finglas, lived initially at Baggotrath, but later moved the seat of the family to Merrion Castle. Seems to have left Baggotrath and rented it out by 1547, MP for Co. Dublin 1559, Vice-Treasurer of Ireland 1559, Sheriff for Co. Dublin as at 1564, the Lord Deputy Sir Henry Sidney visited him in 1565 after arriving in Ireland and before entering Dublin.
He fought against Shane O'Neill 1560 and 1566 (after the latter Sir Henry Sidney knighted him), the family conformed to Protestantism at the Reformation, but their conversion was only nominal and by 1600 they were Catholic again (although they were always loyal to the crown in Ireland), Constable of Wicklow Castle, at the edge of the Pale facing the hostile natives (whose traditional leaders were the O'Byrnes), fixed the boundaries of Wicklow county (as Sir Henry Sidney did with Clare county in 1565), in 1580 at Glen Malure (near Glendalough, W inland from Wicklow town, in heart of Wicklow mountains.
The forces of the Crown under Lord Grey de Wilton were defeated by the Irish under Fiach MacHugh O'Byrne, the traditional song "Follow me up to Carlow" celebrates this defeat of the British and their ally 'black Fitzwilliam', died 9th Nov 1592, age c.73 yrs. The O'Tooles and the O'Byrnes were finally conquered in 1601.
JFK Pipe Band

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