“The Green Above the Red”


When the English red has been above the Irish green our fathers rose to set the green above the red. Heroes are named. Irish green is banned now but "we vow our blood to shed, Once and forever more to raise the green above the red"

Supplemental text

Green Above the Red, The
  Partial text(s)

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From James N. Healy, ed., The Mercier Book of Old Irish Street
Ballads, Volume Two (1969), #54, pp. 125-126. Source not indicated.

Full often when our fathers saw the Red above the Green,
They rose in rude but fierce array, with sabre, pike, and skian,
And over many a noble town, and many a field of dead,
They proudly set the Irish Green above the English Red.

(7 additional stanzas)


The "Lord Edward" of some texts is Lord Edward Fitzgerald (1763-1798), one of the leaders of the United Irishmen and the last one to retain his liberty after the government cracked down (March 12). He doesn't seem to have been particularly smart, and was eventually wounded and captured (May 19); he died in prison of the effects of his wound. For more about him, see the notes to "Edward (III) (Edward Fitzgerald)."

For Wolfe Tone, see, e.g., the notes to "The Shan Van Voght."

Patrick Sarsfield, made Earl of Lucan by James II, was one of the Irish around the time of the Boyne; for his story, see "After Aughrim's Great Disaster."

My guess is that "Owen" is Owen Roe O'Neill (c. 1582-1649), nephew of Red Hugh O'Neill; he served for a time in the Netherlands, then fought against the English in Ireland in the 1640s, though he did not cooperate very well with other Nationalist leaders. For background on his career, see the notes to "General Owen Roe." - RBW


  • Bodleian, 2806 b.10(118), "The Green Above the Red" ("Full often when our fathers saw the Red above the Green"), H. Such (London), 1863-1885; also Harding B 11(1411), Harding B 11(1412), "The Green Above the Red"


  1. O'Conor, p. 58, "The Green Above the Red" (1 text)
  2. Healy-OISBv2, pp. 125-126, "The Green Above the Red" (1 text)
  3. ST OCon058 (Partial)
  4. BI, OCon058


Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1886 (broadside, Bodleian 2806 b.10(118))