"Poor Old Granuaile," bound in chains, in deep distress, mourns the loss of the old heroes and avengers. Dan O'Connell says "I have got the bill to fulfil your wishes.... Her voice so clear fell on my ear"


Two similar but different broadsides:

Bodleian, Harding B 19(25), "Granauile" ("One morning fair to take the air and recreate my mind"), J.F. Nugent & Co. (Dublin), 1850-1899

Bodleian, Johnson Ballads 507A, "Granawail" ("[Come] all you Irish hero's that's craving for liberty"), E. Hodges (London), 1855-1861

"Granuaile O'Malley (Or Grace O'Malley, or Gr.inne Ni Mhaille or Gr.inne Uaile) is among the most illustrious of O'Malley ancestors. She was a 'Sea Queen' and pirate in the 16th century." (Source: The Official Web Site of The O'Malley Clan Association)

The ballad is recorded on one of the CD's issued around the time of the bicentenial of the 1798 Irish Rebellion. See:

Franke Harte and Donal Lunny, "Granuaile" (on Franke Harte and Donal Lunny, "My Name is Napoleon Bonaparte," Hummingbird Records HBCD0027 (2001))

Harte: "The older Gaelic poets when they wished to write on the wrongs that Ireland has suffered at the hands of the English since the invasion of Ireland in 1169, they often adopted the type of poem called 'The Aisling'." He goes on to describe the 'aisling' and shows that Granuaile is typical of the pattern. - BS

Patrick C. Power's _A Literary History of Ireland_ associates the aisling in particular with Aodhagan O Rathaille (c. 1670-c. 1730), and notes on p. 97 that "If any form of verse can be described as typically 18th century, then the aisling deserves this title. Essentially, the aisling means vision and the poetry... known as 'aislings' are essentially vision poems. The first poems of this kind appeared during the end of the 16th century."

By the eighteenth century, he adds, a formula had been fixed: "The poet goes out walking and meets a beautiful lady. He then describes her dress and appearance and asks her who she is. She is generally the personification of Ireland and she promises early deliverance from the foreign yoke and the return of the Stuarts to the English throne.... Aisling-poetry was always closely connected with the Jacobite movement and is mainly escapist in mode. It often abounds in classical allusions."

Power would technically deny this song Aisling-hood, since the "last aislings were written in the early 19th century and even still referred to the Stuart prince." The references to Daniel O'Connell obviously changes the picture, but the form fits -- this might be called a neo-aisling. Especially since it's in English.

Granuaile seems to have inspired a whole family of these neo-aislings, in fact -- enough that it might be called a sub-genre at least. See "The Rights of Man" and "Poor Old Granuaile," ; compare also "Erin's Green Shore" [Laws Q27] and "Erin's Lament for her Davitt Asthore."

For more on aislings, see Ben Schwartz's note to "Eileen McMahon."

The _Oxford Companion to Irish History_ gives Granuaile O'Malley's dates as c. 1530-c. 1603, observes that she was married twice and imprisoned 1577-1579 -- and notes that, on the whole, she strove for peaceful relations with the English.

Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847) was an Irish patriot who worked vigorously for Catholic freedom. He did not take part in the 1798 rebellion, but promoted Irish and Catholic rights for many years, and in 1829 saw Britain lift the ban on Catholics in parliament. One of the greatest of the peaceful Irish leaders, his tragedy is that eventually neither side trusted him. For more about his history, see the various songs named for him. - RBW

Cross references


  1. OLochlainn 3, "Granuaile" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Healy-OISBv2, pp. 33-34, "A New Song Called Granuaile" (1 text, probably this though printed without stanza divisions)
  3. Roud #3034
  4. BI, OLoc003


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1939 (OLochlainn)
Keywords: Ireland patriotic
Found in: Ireland