“The Battle on Vinegar Hill”


The English army of 20000 defeat 10000 Wexford pikemen in a fierce battle. The pikemen were brave and valiant; the English were stubborn and warlike. The singer comments on the pity that freeborn Englishmen "should strike fair freedom down"


Moylan dates "The Battle on Vinegar Hill" to about 1880. - BS

The battle of Vinegar Hill was the final end of the Wexford rebellion. The rebels, having failed at New Ross and Arklow, made a last stand on the hill. Ill-equipped and, in many cases, sick, they faced a British army some 10,000 strong under General Lake, and were slaughtered (see Thomas Pakenham, _The Year of Liberty_, pp. 256-258). For more details on the battle, see, e.g., the notes to "Father Murphy (I)." - RBW

According to Kathleen Hoagland, _1000 Years of Irish Poetry_, p. 784,

Moylan's dating is problematic. I assume this is the Patrick Kavanagh (1904/05-1967) who was best known for his poem "The Great Hunger." Thus he can hardlyl have written the poem in the nineteenth century! - RBW

Historical references

  • Jun 21, 1798 - Battle of Vinegar Hill (source: Moylan)


  1. Moylan 89, "The Battle on Vinegar Hill" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BI, Moyl089


Author: Rev. P. F. Kavanagh (source: Moylan)
Earliest date: 2000 (Moylan)