“Caitilin Ni Uallachain (Cathaleen Ni Houlihan)”


Gaelic. Irish nobles wander, banned, hoping for "the coming-to of Kathaleen Ny-Houlihan." She would be queen "were the king's son at home here." It is a disgrace that she is vassal to the Saxon. May he who led Israel through the waves save her


Zimmermann p. 31 fn. 73 is a fragment in Irish and English; Duffy/Sparling's translation by Mangan is the basis for the description.

Zimmermann p. 31 refering to "Caitilin Ni Uallachain": "In the eighteenth century poets were clinging to the hope that [help] would arrive from France or Spain, and they frequently alluded to a fleet bringing back to Ireland the Stuart king and his mighty allies"

Zimmermann p. 55, Sparling p. 141: Caitlin Ni Uallachain as a secret or coded name. for Ireland. - BS

Kinsella attributes the original Irish to William Hefferman.

The image of Ireland as a lady wronged was very popular in Ireland (even though no one can seem to agree on the spelling). This lyric was one of the first examples. In 1902, William Butler Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory staged the play "Cathleen ni Houlihan," about the 1798 rebellion. Sir John Lavery painted Lady Lavery, with harp, as Kathleen in 1923. This beautiful image came to be used on Irish money and can be seen in Sullivan, p. 63.

My original description applies to Scott's English version: "Our hopes run high, the time is nigh To make the text of war. Our plans are laid, our weapons made, And soon our guns will roar." The [Irish] rebels prepare for war, calling upon Jesus to bless (and free) Cathaleen Ni Houlihan (=Ireland) - RBW

Historical references

  • 1798 - Irish rebellion against British rule


  1. Zimmermann, p. 31, "Caitilin Ni Uallachain" (1 fragment)
  2. Scott-BoA, pp. 94-96, "Caitilin Ni Uallachain (Cathaleen Ni Houlihan)" (1 text, 1 tune; no translator listed)
  4. Charles Gavan Duffy, editor, The Ballad Poetry of Ireland (1845), pp. 89-90, "Kathaleen Ny-Houlahan"
  5. Edward Hayes, The Ballads of Ireland (Boston, 1859), Vol I, pp. 231-232, "Kathaleen Ny Houlahan" (1 text, translated by J.C. Mangan)
  6. H. Halliday Sparling, Irish Minstrelsy (London, 1888), pp. 141-142, 504, "Kathaleen Ny-Houlahan"
  7. Charles Sullivan, ed., Ireland in Poetry, p. 62, "Kathaleen Ny-Houlahan" (1 text, translated by James Clarence Mangan, 1803-1849)
  8. Thomas Kinsella, _The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse_ (Oxford, 1989), pp. 273-275, "Kathaleen Ny-Houlahan" (1 text) [translated by James Clarence Mangan]
  9. BI, SBoA094


Author: Sparling: "A Jacobite relic translated [by James Clarence Mangan, 1803-1849] from the Irish of William Hefferan, called William Dall, or Blind William"
Earliest date: 1845 (Duffy)
Found in: Ireland