“The Battle That Was Fought in the North”


Orangemen come to Tyrone to celebrate July 12, "but our loyal-hearted Catholics soon made them run away." "We'll still be faithful to George the Fourth, and loyal to his crown, But not afraid, nor yet dismay'd, to keep those Brunswickers down"


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

Zimmermann: "This ballad ... [was] perhaps also inspired by the 'party fights' in July 1829. Upwards of twenty men were said to have been killed in County Tyrone.... There was more fighting near Stewartstown in July 1831."

Zimmermann 35: "'Brunswicker' was then more or less synonymous with 'Orangeman' or simply 'Protestant'." - BS

This song is presumably dated by its internal references. If the reference is to the Party Fights, then it must be after July 1829, but since the King is George IV, who died in 1830, it must be before that.

On the other hand, the most noteworthy of the party fights came later, at Dolly's Brae (July 12, 1849; for this battle, see "Dolly's Brae (I)" and "Dolly's Brae (II)"), at which several dozen Catholics were killed. This led England to pass the Party Processions Act in 1850. On still another hand, there was also the earlier clash at Garvegh (1813; see "March of the Men of Garvagh"). The king at this time was George III, but he was in his final madness and the future George IV was regent.

So while the 1830 date is likely, there are plenty of other possible dates if one allows for the possibility of anachronism. - RBW

Cross references

  • cf. "Owen Rooney's Lamentation" (subject: "party fights")
  • cf. "The Lamentation of James O'Sullivan" (subject: "party fights")
  • cf. "The Noble Blue Ribbon Boys" (subject: Ulster quarrels)


  1. Zimmermann 35, "The Battle That Was Fought in the North" (1 text)
  2. BI, Zimm035


Author: unknown
Earliest date: c.1830 (Zimmermann)