“The Grazier Tribe”


"Oh, ye toilers of this nation, I hope you will draw near... My pen I take to hand To try to describe a grazier tribe That now infests this land." The singer laments the British controls on Irish production and the corruption of the system


It appears that this song refers to the period of time around the famines, when many Irish smallholders were displaced and their properties converted into large estates to graze animals rather than grow crops.

The "graziers" are, of course, the members of the English government who were devouring Ireland's subsistence.

It should be noted that, economically, this made sense. Ireland is not good country for growing crops; there isn't enough sun. It is excellent country for pastoral industries. The problem is, there were too many Irish to be supported by herding. They needed to wring every calorie they could out of the soil.

The charges in this song are technically correct; England heavily restricted Irish commerce and instituted a system of officialdom that severely restricted Irish freedom.

It should be noted, however, that this was the way all of Europe treated its colonies (including the British colonies in North America). The real problem was not the economic policies (though these did produce much poverty); rather, it was the sullen relationship between the Irish and their masters, as well as the strained relations between Catholics and Protestants -- a problem worsened by the English anti-Catholic statutes.

Understanding and compassion could have made a bad situation much better -- but that was sadly lacking. - RBW


  • Straighty Flanagan, "The Grazer Tribe" (on Voice05)


  1. PGalvin, pp. 21-22, "The Grazier Tribe" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. OLochlainn 78, "The Grazier Tribe" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Roud #2998
  4. BI, PGa021


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1939 (OLochlainn)
Found in: Ireland