“Clare's Dragoons”


"When, on Ramillies' bloody field, The baffled French were forced to yield, The victor Saxon backward reeled Before the charge of Clare's dragoons." The Irish soldiers proclaim their prowess and wish they were fighting for Ireland


Thousands of Irishmen left home after the disasters of the Boyne and Aughrim. These "Wild Geese" often found employment as mercenaries. One such troop was "Clare's Dragoons," which fought for France during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). It doubtless gave the exiles some pleasure to fight with France against the Grand Alliance (Britain, Austria, and assorted lesser states).

Despite the boasting found in this song, the Irish did not significantly influence the outcome of Ramillies, which was an overwhelming Alliance victory.

Hoagland lists the song as by Thomas Davis, but all we can prove is that he published it. - RBW

Broadside Bodleian Harding B 18(86): H. De Marsan dating per _Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song_ by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS

Historical references

  • 1706 - Battle of Ramillies. Forces of the Grand Alliance under Marlborough heavily defeat the French


  • Bodleian, Harding B 18(86), "Clare's Dragoons", H. De Marsan (New York), 1861-1864; also 2806 c.8(203), "Lord Clare's Dragoon"


  1. PGalvin, pp. 19-20, "Clare's Dragoons" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Zimmermann, p. 85, "Clare's Dragoons" (1 fragment)
  4. ADDITIONAL: Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), pp. 479-481, "Clare's Dragoons" (1 text)
  5. BI, PGa019


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1843 (a fragment quoted by Zimmermann, p. 85, from Thomas Davis _The Spirit of the Nation_, p. 292; the 1843 date for _The Spirit of the Nation_ is from "Thomas Davis" on "Mallow 'The Crossroads of Munster'" site.)
Found in: Ireland