“Dolly's Brae (I)”


July 12, 1849. "Ten hundreds of our Orangemen together did combine" to celebrate the Battle of the Boyne at Dolly's Brae. Two priests can't turn the march to fight the gathered Catholics. "And the Orange cry, as we passed by, was 'Dolly's Brae no more'"


July 12 is the Gregorian Calendar (adopted in England in 1752) date for celebrating the victory of William III of Orange in the Battle of the Boyne, July 1, 1690.

Zimmermann: "There are at least six other ballads on the same subject, most of them with some stanzas in common."

For another ballad with many illegible words see

Bodleian, Harding B 26(143), "Doly's [sic] Brae's No More" ("Come all you loyal Orangemen, I pray listen unto me"), unknown, n.d. - BS

According to Jonathan Bardon, _A History of Ulster_, Blackstaff Press, 1992, pp. 302-304, the Orange Order in 1849 announced a long march, avoiding the main roads in order to march through mostly Catholic districs. "Clearlly the intention was to provoke the Catholic Ribbonmen, but as the Party Processions Act had lapsed, the authorities hoped that if enough troops and police were sent, a clash could be prevented." Reportedly there were at least 1200 heavily armed marchers.

Perhaps a thousand Ribbonmen came out in response, but the two factions for long merely maneuvered without violence.

Major Wilkinson, who led troops on Dolly's Brae between the two mobs, reported that "there went bang a shot in front, but I don't know where it came from no more than the man in the moon." Another officer thought it sounded "more like a squib," but felt it came from the Orange side. But whatever the initial sound was, it soon had both sides shooting.

"At the top of the hill the police found eighteen pitchforks, seven pikes and ten muskets, and half a dozen bodies. Not a single Orangeman was wounded. The forces of law and order were also unscathed, except for a constable accidentally bayoneted in the arm.... The Catholics took away most of their dead and wounded, but the _Newry Telegraph_... reckoned that no fewer than fifty of the Ribbonmen were either killed or wounded'. The government inquiry estimated that at least thirty Catholics had been killed."

The result was a new Party Processions Act, but of course the damage to inter-religious relations had been done.

For other ballads of Party Fights -- of which Dolly's Brae was the most famous and probably the most severe -- see "The Battle That Was Fought in the North" and "The Lamentation of James O'Sullivan." - RBW

Historical references

  • July 12, 1848 - Catholics occupy Dolly's Brae, County Down, and divert an Orangemen's march.
  • July 12, 1849 - Catholics occupy Dolly's Brae but the Orangemen would not be diverted. At least thirty Catholics are killed in the fight. No Orangemen are hit. (source: Zimmermann)

Cross references


  1. Zimmermann 96, "Dolly's Brae" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  2. Graham, p. 15, "Dolly's Brae" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. BI, Zimm096


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1849 (Zimmermann)