“Ye Sons of Old Ireland”


"Ye sons of old Ireland, I'm sorry to hear, There is no money stirring this present new year." The gentry no longer eat "turtle and wine ... Their bellies that swelled with Napoleon's renown Will grow flat like old air-bags since Boney is down"


Moylan: "Times were good during the Napoleonic era as the war effort generated massive demand for goods and services in Ireland. An economic slump ensued after Napoleon's defeat as the war machine was wound down and armies were demobilized."[An interesting contrast to the situation presented in songs such as "The Troubles." From what I've read, Irish industry didn't benefit all that much, but the army did help soak up some of the vast surplus population -- for a while. - RBW] This is like the lines from "The Grand Conversation on Napoleon": "Napoleon he was a friend to heroes, both young and old, He caus'd the money for to fly wherever he did go." Here also is the main theme of "The Grand Conversation Under the Rose": "Come stir up the wars, and our trade will be flourishing."

The ballad is recorded on one of the CD's issued around the time of the bicentenial of the 1798 Irish Rebellion. See:

Franke Harte and Donal Lunny, "You Sons of Old Ireland" (on Franke Harte and Donal Lunny, "My Name is Napoleon Bonaparte," Hummingbird Records HBCD0027 (2001)) - BS


  1. Moylan 198, "Ye Sons of Old Ireland" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BI, Moyl198


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1909 (Joyce's _Old Irish Folk Music and Songs_, according to Moylan)
Found in: Ireland