“The Purple Boy”


A girl asks her "Purple Boy" the secrets given man from "King Solomon's high Temple Throne." He cannot reveal them. "Those Ribbon rascals I would defy." She wishes she were a man "that I could join in your Orange band." Girls should choose a Purple boy.


"Following an affray at Loughgall in Co. Armagh in 1795 the Orange Order was founded, while the Yeomen were also established in June 1796. These were made up mainly of men from the Orange Lodges." (source: _The 1798 Rebellion_ on the Hogan Stand site)

Zimmermann p. 19: "In some parts of Ulster, Protestant and Catholic tenants were mingled and contended for the land; the peasantry was thus divided into two camps, each having its oath-bound association. This led to a sort of religious war. At the end of the eighteenth century the Catholic "Defenders" were opposed to the Protestant "Peep o'Day Boys" or "Orangemen." The "Defenders were succeeded by the "Ribbonmen"

Zimmermann, p. 303: "Other Protestant organizations, such as ... the Royal Purple Chapter, developed parallel with Orangeism...."

Within the Orange Lodges, "Purple Marksmen" refers to one of the Master degree, above "Orange" and "Orange Marksman," of the Orange Institution (source: "The Formation of the Orange Order 21st September 1795" in the anti-Orange _Evangelical Truth_ at NIreland.com site). See Zimmermann's song references to "The Purple Marksman" [p. 315] and "The Purple Stream" [p. 303, fn. 39].

Tunney-StoneFiddle: .".. songs alluding to the ritual and secrets of the [Orange] Order are few and far between. Indeed, until 1952 when one William Coulter sang 'The Purple Boy' for Sean O Boyle, it was not sung outside the Lodge." - BS

Cross references


  1. Tunney-StoneFiddle, p. 133, "The Purple Boy" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. OrangeLark 33, "The Purple Boy" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. OBoyle 21, "The Purple Boy" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Roud #3478
  5. BI, TSF133


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1952 (Tunney-StoneFiddle)
Found in: Ireland