“Captain Doorley and the Boyne”


John Doorley, 18, son of a wealthy farmer, joined the United men against the Orange at Naas, Timahoe, Prosperous, and Kilcullen. The target of a Yeoman manhunt, he was wounded at the Boyne: "Four hours I lay bleeding and my Nancy at my side"


Zimmermann's has "no indication" of the tune used but lists a 1798 tune that fits the ballad. - BS

Rathangan (as it is usually spelled) is on the boundary between Kildare and King's County (now County Offaly). It was little more than a village, and its occupation had little significance except to expand the rebel-occupied territory toward the west. Unfortunately, the rebels needed to move east, toward Dublin, if they wanted to help the cause.

Even more unfortunately, the town had a garrison, which the rebels attacked. According to Thomas Pakenham, _The Year of Liberty_, pp. 133-134, the attackers (estimated as 5000, though most such estimates were high) killed two yeoman officers and 26 privates. After they surrendered.

To be sure, when the place was retaken (Pakenham, pp. 167-168), there seems to have been a counter-massacre. But it's understandable why the British would pursue the rebel forces.

The Boyne is a long day's march, or a somewhat shorter ride, north of the town, so Doorley may have been pursued the whole time. - RBW

Historical references

  • May 26, 1798 - John Doorley of Lullymore leads about 5000 rebels to occupy Rathnagan, County Kildare (source: an article by Mario Corrigan, published by Kildare County Council, at Kildare Community Network site)


  • Bodleian, Harding B 19(90), "John Doorly -- a Song of 1798" ("I hope you'll pay attention and listen unto me"), J.F. Nugent & Co. (Dublin), 1850-1899; also 2806 c.15(177), "John Doorly -- a Song of 1798"


  1. Zimmermann 14, "Captain Doorley and the Boyne" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Moylan 57, "Captain Doorley and the Boyne" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. BI, Zimm014


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1798 (Zimmermann)