“Green Upon the Cape”


"I'm a lad that's forced an exile From my own native land... I'm a poor distressed croppy For the green upon my cape." The boy goes to Belfast, bids farewell to his parents, and sets out by ship for Paris. He hopes to return to a free Ireland


Galvin lists this as a "Northern variant of 'The Wearing of the Green,'" but the sheet music makes it clear that this is forced; there aren't enough notes in the melody for the lyrics.

Clearly the singer is one of the "Wild Geese" who fled Ireland. The Wild Geese often formed "Irish Brigades" in foreign countries; this seems to be the case here.

The first migration of the Wild Geese came after the Boyne and the succeeding battles (roughly 1691-1700), but this song, despite its reference to Cromwell, probably refers to the second migration, as the young man left via Belfast. - RBW

It's not certain that broadside LOCSinging as10165a predates the other LOCSinging entries; it is the only one I can come close to dating. Its text seems corrupt. All three LOCSinging entries have Bonaparte promising to send a fleet "to pull the orange down," but only the De Marsan text has him promise as well to "guillotine their leaders, As well as 'King and Queen.'" In the broadside Bodleian 2806 c.8(47) the exile goes to New York and meets "Meagher, Walsh and Kelly" who promise to "send a convoy with you."

Broadside LOCSinging as10165a: 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

Cross references


  • Bodleian, 2806 c.8(47), "Green on the Cape," unknown, n.d.
  • LOCSinging, as10165a, "Wearing of the Green," H. De Marsan (New York), 1864-1878; also as101650, as10165a, "Green on the Cape"


  1. PGalvin, pp. 91-93, "Green Upon the Cape" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Zimmermann 21A, "Green On My Cape" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Moylan 32, "Green Upon the Cape" (1 text)
  4. Healy-OISBv2, pp. 126-127, "(A Much Admired Song Called) Green on the Cape" (1 text)
  5. ADDITIONAL: H. Halliday Sparling, Irish Minstrelsy (London, 1888), pp. 15-17, 511-512, "Green Upon the Cape"
  6. Roud #5773
  7. BI, PGa091


Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1879 (broadside, LOCSinging as10165a); c.1800 (Zimmermann)
Keywords: Ireland soldier exile
Found in: Ireland