Roddy McCorley was a local leader in County Antrim in Ireland during the rebellion of 1798. After being captured by British Soldiers he was executed in the town of Toomebridge. The song was adapted by the Clancy Brothers from words written by Ethna Carberry who lived from 1866-1902.The Clancy Brothers recorded the song on the 1961 album "The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem" on Tradition Records. The Kingston Trio also recorded the song. I first heard it performed by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem at the Gate of Horn folk club in Chicago around 1961. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
[G] O see the fleet-foot host of men, who [C] march with faces [G] drawn,
From farmstead and from [C] fishers' [G] cot, along the [C] banks of [D] Ban; [G] They come with vengeance [C] in their [G] eyes. Too late! [C] Too late are [D] they; [G] For young Roddy McCorley goes to die on the [C] bridge of Toome [G] today.
Oh Ireland, Mother Ireland, you love them still the best
The fearless brave who fighting fall upon your hapless breast,
But never a one of all your dead more bravely fell in fray,
Than he who marches to his fate on the bridge of Toome today.
Up the narrow street he stepped, so smiling, proud and young.
About the hemp-rope on his neck, the golden ringlets clung;
There's ne'er a tear in his blue eyes, fearless and brave are they,
As young Roddy McCorley goes to die on the bridge of Toome today.
When last this narrow street he trod, his shining pike in hand
Behind him marched, in grim array, an earnest stalwart band.
To Antrim town! To Antrim town, he led them to the fray,
But young Roddy McCorley goes to die on the bridge of Toome today.
The grey coat and its sash of green were brave and stainless then,
A banner flashed beneath the sun over the marching men;
The coat hath many a rent this noon, the sash is torn away,
And Roddy McCorley goes to die on the bridge of Toome today.
Oh, how his pike flashed in the sun! Then found a foeman's heart,
Through furious fight, and heavy odds he bore a true man's part
And many a red-coat bit the dust before his keen pike-play,
But Roddy McCorley goes to die on the bridge of Toome today.
There's never a one of all your dead more bravely died in fray
Than he who marches to his fate in Toomebridge town today;
True to the last! True to the last, he treads the upwards way,
And young Roddy McCorley goes to die on the bridge of Toome today.
The purpose of the Folk Den is to use the medium of the World Wide Web to continue the tradition of the folk process, that is the telling of stories, and singing of songs, passed on from one generation to another, by word of mouth.
In this electronic era, such a process is in danger of being overwhelmed by the commercial mass media. This page and others on the 'net are working to preserve the folk songs that have chronicled our global heritage for centuries.
In the Folk Den, a "new" folk song is uploaded every month as a "Global Community Service."