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St. Patty's Day protests in Madison

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Matt is off to celebrate the holiday in his own particular fashion (donations for bail should be PayPal'd to me, of course).  I thought I would offer you an Irish history lesson, in the form of my favorite Irish rebel song, "Kelly, the Boy from Killane." 

Although it is considered by most to be a "Catholic" song, it is about a remarkable moment in Irish history when Catholic and Protestant set aside their differences and fought side-by-side for freedom.  This was the movement of 1798, called the "United Irishmen," and it was a true brother in Enlightenment principles of our own American revolution. 

What's the news, what's the news oh my bold Shelmalier
   With your long barrelled guns from the sea
Say what wind from the south brings a messenger here
   With the hymn of the dawn for the free
Goodly news, goodly news do I bring youth of Forth
   Goodly news shall you hear Bargy man
For the boys march at dawn from the south to the north
   Led by Kelly the boy from Killane

Tell me who is that giant with the gold curling hair
   He who rides at the head of your band
Seven feet is his height with some inches to spare
   And he looks like a king in command
Ah my boys that's the pride of the bold Shelmaliers
   'Mongst greatest of hero's a man
Fling your beavers aloft and give three ringing cheers
   For John Kelly the boy from Killane

Enniscorthy's in flames and old Wexford is won
   And tomorrow the Barrow we will cross
On a hill o'er the town we have planted a gun
   That will batter the gateway to Ross
All the Forth men and Bargy men will march o'er the heath
   With brave Harvey to lead in the van
But the foremost of all in that grim gap of death
   Will be Kelly the boy from Killane

But the gold sun of freedom grew darkened at Ross
   And it set by the Slaney's red waves
And poor Wexford stripped naked, hung high on a cross
   With her heart pierced by traitors and slaves
Glory-o, glory-o to her brave sons who died
   For the cause of long down trodden man
Glory-o to Mount Leinster's own darling and pride
   Dauntless Kelly the boy from Killane

To understand the song is to understand the tragedy of the loss of the United Irishmen.  Kelly was not the commander of the field, but rather Bagenal Harvey, mentioned only in passing in the second-to-last verse.  Harvey was a Protestant; and by the time the song was written, the old sectarian rivalry had reasserted itself.  No longer could a Protestant be the hero of a song sung by Catholics.  The song reflects the defeat of the principle of the brotherhood of freedom, which might have ruled in Ireland as in America. 

May it yet find its rightful home among those good people.  A toast to St. Patrick, and to Ireland.