“The Three O'Donnells”


Singer dreams of a meeting in Innishowen "when we heard of liberty," of a barge with 24 Irish boys saying "Gainne's sons are free." A health to the O'Donnells. Father William fought at Waterloo; "He once was a bold lieutenant But he's now our clergyman"


Tunney-StoneFiddle: "In fact it is an anti-tithe song from Innishowen. The hero whose praises it sings was none other than Father William O'Donnell, the Waterloo Priest, as he is still affectionately referred to in his native Innishowen." Tunney gives the biography of William O'Donnell (1779-1856), including his 1839 arrest for being in arrears of tithe on his property.

I cannot explain the references to "that meeting boys That was held at Innishowen" or "the loaded barge Going floating down the main With four and twenty Irish boys To guide her on the stream." - BS

For background on the Tithe War (the successful attempt by the Catholic Irish to stop paying a tithe to support the Protestant Church of England), see especially the notes to "The Battle of Carrickshock." - RBW

Cross references


  1. Tunney-StoneFiddle, p. 145, "The Three O'Donnells" (1 text)
  2. BI, TSF145


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1979 (Tunney-StoneFiddle)
Found in: Ireland