“The Dying Irish Boy”


Burt is wounded in battle at Santiago Bay, Cuba, "while Victoria shall reign." He tells his friend, Bill O'Shea, to break the news of his death to his mother and to tell O'Shea's sister Mary that he still loves her.

Supplemental text

Dying Irish Boy, The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From MacEdward Leach, Folk Ballads & Songs of the Lower Labrador Coast,
#44, p. 126. "Sung by Leo O'Brien, Lance au Loup, June 1960" (though
no tune is indicated).

In the din and strife of battle when the sullen cannon roar
Where storm and strife were raging in that far-off Cub-yan shore.
An Irish youth lay dying who fell gravely in the dray,
While Victoria shall reign on Santiago Bay.

(7 additional stanzas)


The ballad must have originally referred to "Columbia" rather than "Victoria." - BS

Or, just possibly, "Victoria" is correct and "Santiago Bay" is wrong, meaning the song might date to some other battle in British history during the reign of Victoria; other than the first verse, there are no real time or place references. - RBW

Historical references

  • Feb 15, 1898 - destruction of the U. S. S. Maine
  • Apr 19, 1898 - Although the Spanish have agreed to all American demands, including peace with the Cuban rebels, the U. S. issues a sort of preliminary declaration of war, listing U. S. goals
  • Apr 24, 1898 - Spain declares war on the U. S.; the U. S. will next day do the same, backdating it to April 21
  • May 19, 1898 - The Spanish fleet enters Santiago Bay
  • July 2, 1898 - The Spanish fleet at Santiago, acting under orders from Madrid, sails out into the teeth of the American fleet and is destroyed
  • July 10, 1898 - U. S. troops attack Santiago
  • July 17, 1898 - U. S. troops capture Santiago

Cross references


  1. Leach-Labrador 44, "The Dying Irish Boy" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. ST LLab044 (Partial)
  3. Roud #9988
  4. BI, LLab044


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1960 (Leach-Labrador)
Found in: Canada(Newf)