“The Cavan Buck”


Going to Lord Farnham's to join a July 12 Orange walk, Walker's buck has a fight with MacNamee's bulldog. The buck asks for mercy. He would even dress in green. The goat is let go but the dog follows and kills him. MacNamee wishes for more such dogs.

Long description

July 12 Walker's buck is dressed in purple robes, given "a word and a sign," and sent to Lord Farnham's to join the Orange walk. On the way he meets MacNamee's bulldog and explains his mission. The dog, claiming to be sent by Sarsfield, challenges him but the buck won't fight because he might ruin his finery. The dog attacks anyway. The buck asks for mercy. He would even dress in green. The bulldog doubts the goat's sincerity but releases him. The goat runs home to Walker. He tells his story and, despite Walker's urging, runs away (probably forgetting his oath to dress in green). The dog follows and kills him. MacNamee says if he had fifty more dogs "just half as well inclined as he, I'll give you my oath in Cavan town, an Orange walk you ne'er would see"


The Orange Walk on July 12 celebrates the victory by William of Orange at the Boyne in 1690. Orangemen dress in their colors, sing Orange songs, and march. As can be imagined, the "other side" was often offended.

The choice of a buck to represent the Orange is standard. Having an [English] bulldog represent the other side seems a strange use of a symbol; apparently even the goat was taken in until told that the bulldog, in this case, represented Sarsfield: the primary hero on the other side of the Battle of the Boyne. [For the career of Sarsfield, see the notes to "After Aughrim's Great Disaster." - RBW]

Morton-Ulster: "Many attempts have been made to stop the marches in the past, especially at times of strained relations in the community. The 1820s constituted such a time. The mention of Lord Farnham would suggest that this song comes from that period. Farnham was a staunch and convinced Protestant." - BS

Cross references


  1. Morton-Ulster 38, "The Cavan Buck" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Roud #2882
  3. BI, MorU038


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1970 (Morton-Ulster)
Found in: Ireland