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This month's Free Tablature is
Patrick Joseph McCall - 1898





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This month's tab is "Boolavogue", an Irish ballad written by Patrick Joseph McCall in 1898 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Irish Rebellion.  The rebellion was organized by a group calling itself the United Irishmen, and was supposed to involve uprisings all across the country.   However, due to communication and organizational problems, the outbreaks were sporadic and quickly put down by the British forces.  This song takes its name from the name of a town in County Wexford in the south-east of Ireland, which was one of the few areas where the rebellion had any military success. 

The song tells the story of Father John Murphy who, although a priest and opposed to violence, led an untrained, poorly armed group of rebels to a series of victories that shook the British establishment, starting with the battle of Boolavogue.  Father Murphy was not a member of the United Irishmen, but got involved after British militia burned down his church and surrounding cottages to intimidate the local people.  Subsequent verses document how Father Murphy and other rebel leaders had further victories in Wexford and surrounding counties.   These victories were short-lived, however, and the Wexford insurgents were defeated at the Battle of Vinegar Hill, and Father Murphy and the other rebel leaders were captured and hanged.

McCall composed other popular Irish ballads, including "Kelly the Boy from Killanne", "Follow Me To Carlow", and "Boys of Wexford".    The melody for "Boolavogue" is based on an old Irish air called "Youghal Harbour", and the song has become an anthem for County Wexford.   It was first published under the name "Father Murphy of County Wexford".

 Here's a link to a YouTube video of this song performed by  Davy Spillane (uilleann pipes), Aly Bain (fiddle), and Russ Barenberg (guitar) as part of the Trans-Atlantic sessions.

This is a 2-part arrangement (melody and harmony), so find a playing partner and work this one up in time for St Patrick's Day!

In music and friendship,



At Boolavogue as the sun was setting
O'er the bright May meadows of Shelmalier,
A rebel hand set the heather blazing
and brought the neighbours from far and near.

Then Father Murphy from old Kilcormack
Spurred up the rocks with a warning cry:
'Arm! Arm!' he cried, 'For I've come to lead you;
For Ireland's freedom we'll fight or die!'

At Vinegar Hill, o'er the pleasant Slaney
Our heroes vainly stood back to back,
and the Yeos at Tullow took Father Murphy
and burned his body upon a rack.

God grant you glory, brave Father Murphy
And open Heaven to all your men,
The cause that called you may call tomorrow
In another fight for the Green again.



JPG Dulcimer







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