“The Game of Cards (II)”


Cahill, Napoleon, D'Esterre and O'Connell, Castlereagh and Pitt are presented as players of all-fours or twenty-five representing Erin, France and John Bull. In 1798, "'Twas easy to beat drunken men." Now we're sober. "Nearly ready to finish the game"


There is no "overall game" nor even a "game" in this broadside, just a set of disconnected plays in what seem to be two different card games.

Dr Daniel William Cahill [1796-1864] deals "the five fingers to France, The stout Knave of Clubs to America." Cahill argued against the government and the Established Church of Ireland (source: "Daniel William Cahill" in _The Catholic Encyclopedia_ at the New Advent site).

Napoleon deals all-fours next.

"D'Esterre went to play O'Connell ... with a trigger the cards he did shuffle." Daniel O'Connell killed challenger D'Esterre in an 1815 duel over a disparaging speech by O'Connell about the Dublin Corporation (source: "Daniel O'Connell" in _The Catholic Encyclopedia_ at the New Advent site).

The 1798 defeat at Tara is referred to as all-fours but seems to mix in the twenty-five rules.

"Castlereagh and old Pitt were gamesters ... Our Parliament they stole away." Castlereagh and William Pitt championed the Act of Union of Ireland and England in 1800, but both resigned with Cornwallis in 1801 when George III refused to allow Irish Emancipation (source: "Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh" in _The Age of George III_ at the site of A Web of English History).

For another attribution of the 1798 loss to Irish drunkenness see "The Boys of Wexford."

For discussions of the card games of "All Fours" (Old Sledge, Auction Pitch, High-Low-Jack) and "Twenty-Five" (Spoil Five, Five Fingers) see the Card Games site and The United States Playing Card Company site. - BS

It would be hard to claim that alcohol ruined the 1798 rebellion; that was wrecked by lack of planning and the fact that the United Irish leadership was informant-riddled. But the Fenians of the nineteenth century did often fall prey to drink. A still later rebel, Vinnie Byrne, claims it nearly cost them even after the 1916 rebellion: "[Michael] Collins was a marvel. If he hadn't done the work he did, we'd still be under Britain. Informers and drink would have taken care of us." (See Tim Pat Coogan, _ Michael Collins_, p. 116.)

The referencesto the stealing of Parliament remind me very much of "The Wheels of hte World," though which came first is not clear. - RBW

Cross references

  • cf. "The Shan Van Voght (1848)" for references to the "stealing" of Grattan's Parliament
  • cf. "The Wheels of the World" for references to the "stealing" of Grattan's Parliament


  • Bodleian, 2806 b.9(35), "The Game of Cards" ("You true sons of Erin draw near me"), P. Brereton (Dublin), c.1867; also 2806 c.8(87), 2806 b.9(231), 2806 b.11(12), Johnson Ballads 3062, "The Game of Cards"; Harding B 26(283), "The Irish Volunteers of 1860"


  1. Moylan 127, "The Game of Cards" (1 text)
  2. Healy-OISBv2, pp. 81-83, "The Game of Cards" (1 text)
  3. BI, BrdTGoC2


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1966 (Zimmermann)