Seamus Rua McGreal

My name is Seamus Rua McGreal, a fugitive I roam the nation

To full and plenty I was used but lowly now is my station

With fifty pounds upon my head, my comrades vanquished all around me

Like a fox from dogs I run and hide, my enemies hunt and hound me.


The great flax lands near Belfast Town was where I grew from boy to manhood

And the weavers trade I made my own, a skill engrained deep in my kin’s blood

But hate and strife came over the land and thousands from their homes were driven

With our homes burned down, ’twas with empty hands to Connacht for to earn a living


On Kilgeever’s heath I set up home where kindly neighbours made me welcome

And shared their frugal land and store with an Ulsterman in need of shelter

There was little virtue in that land and sweat and blood was shed in plenty

To earn a living stretched a man, for rock and bog is tough and stingy.


Then soon the French fleet reached our shores and hope renewed replaced depression

A broken heartbeat proud once more I joined the cause without a question

I forged my laí  into a pike, with Moore and Humber I enlisted

The Yeoman soon we put to flight and o’er the Shannon them we routed.


But at Ballinamuck we were assailed and our hopes were laid in ruin and tatters

Cornwallis on the field prevailed, dead French and Gael all round were scattered

We who escaped and surv ived that plight, for the hangman’s noose  our heads were wanted

And I Seamus Rua, as game in flight, o’er mountain, glen and plain am hunted.

© Michael O’ Grady

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