“The Song of the Volunteers”


"Hurrah! tis done. Our freedom's won. Hurrah for the Volunteers!" The Irish Volunteers, behind Grattan and Flood have broken "the Saxon yoke" Prayers, tears and words were vain "till flashed the swords Of the Irish Volunteers"


The Belfast Volunteers were formed in 1778 because of the threat of war between France and Britain. Similar groups formed, became politicized, and supported "those in favour of legislative independence from the British parliament and the removal of impediments to Irish commerce." Henry Grattan and Harry Flood supported this program in the Irish House of Commons. (Source: Moylan)

Hayes's title places the events in 1782. - BS

Moylan's description sums up the situation pretty well, I think. The Volunteers were not openly rebellious; they were mostly pro-British, and largely Protestant (though Terry Golway, _For the Cause of Liberty_, p. 51, notes that they included Catholics as well). By 1779, there were 40,000 volunteers (see Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry, _A History of Ireland_, p. 186). Having shown that Ireland could field an army, a tide of nationalism, expressed in a "Buy Irish" movement, arose. The British, nervous about this, and remembering the recent example of the American rebels, responded by granting legislative independence in the form of Grattan's Parliament, for which see "Ireland's Glory." - RBW

Cross references


  1. Moylan 1, "The Song of the Volunteers" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. ADDITIONAL: Edward Hayes, The Ballads of Ireland (Boston, 1859), Vol I, pp. 236-237, "The Song of the Volunteers of 1782"
  3. BI, Moyl001


Author: Thomas Davis (1814-1845) (source: Moylan)
Earliest date: early 1840s (_The Nation_, according to Moylan)