High[G] upon the gallows tree swong the[C] noble hearted[G] three,
By the vengeful tyrant stricken in their[D] bloom,
But they[G] met them face to face,with the[C] courage of their[G] race,
And they went with souls un[D]daunted to their[G] doom.
God[G] save Ireland said the hero's[D]God save Ireland said they all,
Wheather[G] on the scaffold high,or the[C] battle field we[G] die,
Oh no matter when for[D] Ireland dear we fall
Girt around with cruel foes,still their courage proudly rose,
For they thought with hearts that loved them far and near,
Of the millions true and brave,o'er the ocean swelling wave,
And the friends of holy Ireland ever dear.
Climed they up the rugged stair,rang their voices out in prayer,
Then with England's fatal courd around them cast,
Close beside the gallows tre,kissed like brothers lovingly,
True to home and faith and freedom to the last.
Never till the latest day shall their memories pass away,
O the galland lives thus given for our land,
But on the cause must go,to the joy the weal or woe,
Till we make our nation free and grand.
Youtube Video Of The Wolfe Tones
A little bit of history ...
Have you ever wondered how the song 'God Save Ireland' came about? Well
I'll try to give you the story as briefly as possible. It was written by TD Sullivan, one of the group of three brothers from
west Cork. They were journalists and writers, he was editor of the Nation Newspaper. Not a great patriot like Davis or Mitchell,
they were no friend of the Fenians/ IRB the Irish republican brotherhood and they were known to dance around Irish events
and patriotic groups changing their opinions with the mood of public opinion. The public were in great sympathy with the Fenian
prisoners who were tried for the murder of police Sargent Brett in Manchester so the song came about as a result of massive
public sympathy for the Manchester Martyrs Allen, Larkin and O'Brien.
The leader of the IRB,
Stephens, was captured and imprisoned in a swoop to behead the movement of its leaders it's writers and its newspaper the
Irish People. Stephens was brought to trial in November 1866, he refused to have council to represent him, this was a precedent
when it was usual to get the best legal aid available. He addressed the court by saying I have employed no lawyer to defend
my case because in making a defence of any kind I should be recognizing British law in Ireland. He was rescued from his prison
cell in Richmond jail and secretly taken by boat across to Scotland, then to France where he lived for some time then finally
made his way to America.
Colonel Thomas J Kelly succeeded Stephens as leader of the IRB,
he paid a visit to Manchester in Autumn 1867 on Fenian business accompanied by captain Deasy. They were both arrested as suspects
and brought before a magistrate on Sept 11th and remanded in custody for a week. Then on the 18th, a detective gave information
as to who they really were, they had given false names on their arrest and were remanded again on a more serious charge.
They then were handcuffed and bundled into a police van with common criminals.
American officer, Ricard O"Sullivan Burke, was in the area and learned that the Fenians were planning an attack on the van
to rescue them. He was asked to lead the operation and take command. On the 18th Sept, the prison van set out with six passengers,
two Fenian leaders, two women, a young boy being sent to reformatory and Sargent Brett, a police officer in charge of the
operation. They were accompanied by an escort of six police, two driving the van and the rest in an ordinary cab traveling
behind the van. The security procedure was well planned, one locked the door of the prison van then the key was passed through
a small opening in the door to the Sargent inside. A small force of Fenians no more the 15 to 20 with a few revolvers between
them was roughly the size of the rescue force. Their mission was to release the prisoners with out causing bloodshed. When
they stopped the van the police on the van and the following escort all ran away. Which just left a problem of opening the
door, they tried several times to break the door by force using large stones trying all the force they could muster but failed
to break it down.
There could be no success if they failed to open the door so Peter Rice
from Dublin had the idea of shooting the lock so he placed his revolver into the keyhole and fired a shot not knowing that
Sargent Brett was looking through the keyhole to ascertain what was happening, and so it happened that the bullet killed him.
One of the women prisoners took the key from the dead mans pocket and passed it out to the waiting raiding party who opened
the door allowing the prisoners to escape. Kelly and Deasy still handcuffed were whisked away to safety. The plan was that
all the raiding party were to disperse as quickly as possible. When police reinforcements were sent to the area they rounded
up everyone with an IRISH NAME OR ACCENT they could find. They were Beaten up arrested and many of them inprisoned, all Irish
people that were found were assaulted and insulted with out mercy. In this great big swoop four of the rescuers fell into
the hands of the Police, they were Captain Michael O'Brien , William Phillip Allen, Michael Larkin and Edward O'Meagher Condon,
an American Citizen.
The people of England were whisked into a frenzy of hate against the
Irish by a bitter sectarian press, every Irish person in England was made into an object of vicious attack. Mobs roamed the
Streets of Manchester, beating up every Irish person they could find. There were hundreds let go from their jobs just because
they were Irish, thousands of special constabulary were brought in to do house to house searches for the escaped prisoners
or those they suspected of being involved in the rescue. Large numbers were sent to prison on suspicion, most of whom
just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The man who fired the shot, Peter Rice of Dublin, did not mean to
kill annyone, was never found or arrested, he escaped and lived for a while in America but eventually returned to Dublin where
he lived out the rest of his days.
Out of all the prisoners held only five were brought
to trial, they were Allen, Larkin, Condon and O'Brien and an unfortunate sailor called Maguire who had no Fenian connections.
Several witnesses swore one after the other that they saw young Allen fire the shot into the keyhole, seven witnesses said
they saw Maguire trying to break into van with large STONES. the evidence against the other three was just as false and similar
accusations were made, the evidence was just as biased as it went for the first two. A Jury of twelve Englishmen found
after the testimony presented by their fellow justice loving countrymen that all five were guilty and all five were condemned
to death by hanging. Just after the trial, thirty five newspapermen came together and consulted about the trial, they were
all unhappy with the conviction of Maguire and sent a petition to the Authorities in London.
the undersigned members of the Metropolitan and Provincial press having had long experience in the courts of justice and full
opportunity of observing the demeanor of prisoners and witnesses in cases of criminal procedure, beg humbly to submit that,
having heard the evidence adduced before the the special commission , on the Capitol "charge preferred against Thomas Maguire
private in the Royal Marines, we conscientiously believe that the said Thomas Maguire is innocent of the crime of which he
has been convicted, and that his conviction has resulted from mistaken identity. We, therefore, pray that you will be
pleased to advise her Majesty to grant her most gracious pardon to the said Thomas Maguire."
five accused had been convicted on the same evidence as Maguire, the Judge had determined that their trial was fair, impartial
and unbiased, they stated that they themselves fully concurred in the verdict of the Jury. They all in turn accepted
the evidence of dozens of witnesses as being truthful, unbiased and reliable. Now the evidence that convicted all was
being questioned by the experienced members of the press, if the evidence was questionable and unreliable for one it should
have been questionable in all five cases.
This was a huge embarrassment to the English authorities
and the verdict was being questioned by fair minded people even in an England that had been screaming out for the lives of
the murderers that took the life of the servant of the crown. The hopes of the Irish people grew optimistic and all hoped
that the lives of the men might be spared if Maguire got a reprieve from the gallows. All the Fenian prisoners had declared
their innocence of the charge of which they were accused while proclaiming their loyalty to Ireland's independence.
The Authorities bowed to pressure put on them by the press and agreed to reprieve Maguire ignoring the fact that
it was the same witnesses and evidence that had condemned the other four to the gallows. On the eve of the execution,
they gave a reprieve to O'Meagher Condon because he was an American citizen. All appeals were ignored by the authorities
in the cases of the remaining three and on November 23rd, 1867, at Salford Jail in Manchester, Captain Michael O'Brien , William
Phillip Allen and Michael Larkin, three great loyal Irishmen of the Fenian movement were hung and became known as the Manchester
Martyrs, honoured and remembered in song and story to this very day - 'God Save Ireland' were the last words uttered by the
men as they faced death on the gallows .
Brian Warfield From The Wolfe Tones