“Down By the Glenside (The Bold Fenian Men)”


An old woman sings about the "bold Fenian men" she had seen "marching and drilling" 50 years earlier. They died in the glens and amid strangers. "Wise men have said that their cause was a failure, But they stood by old Ireland and never feared danger"


The Fenians were an Irish Independence organization -- but they were also among the most absurdly inept plotters in history. The depth of their feelings are illustrated by the fact that they kept on after an endless litany of failures. (For examples, see "A Fenian Song," "The British Man-of-War," and "The Smashing of the Van (I).") - RBW

Hall, notes to Voice08, re "The Bold Fenian Men": "Peadar Kearney wrote [it] ... around the time of the 1916 Easter Rising."

Regarding "Some died by the glenside; some died amid strangers" this comment at Yates, Musical Traditions site _Voice of the People suite_ "Notes - Volume 8" - 1.3.03: "The Fenian Irish independence movement began in the 1860s with attempted risings in the USA, Canada and Ireland."

Yates, Musical Traditions site _Voice of the People suite_ "Notes - Volume 8" - 1.3.03: "In the song, the 'old woman' represents the Spirit of Ireland." In this connection see notes to "Eileen McMahon" and references there. - BS

This seems to be known in tradition mostly under the title "The Bold Fenian Men," but Kearney's original title apparently was "Down by the Glenside." Kearney was also the author of the Irish national anthem "The Soldier's Song"; for more on him, see the notes to "Whack Fol the Diddle (God Bless England)." - RBW


  1. Margaret Barry, "The Bold Fenian Men" (on Voice08)
  3. Roud #9266
  4. BI, RcDbtGle


Author: Peadar Kearney (source: Hall, notes to Voice08)
Earliest date: 1955 (recording, Margaret Barry)
Found in: Ireland