The Heroine of Ross

Melody -

William Rooney

Up from fitful sleep we wakened
At the first kiss of the day;
There was silence by our watchfires,
For we knew the task that lay
To be wrought to joy or ruin
Ere the stairs should look again
On the places of our childhood
Hill and river, rath and glen.

2. We were thinking of the dear ones
That we left to face the foe,
And we prayed for all the brave ones
That were lying cold and low,
And we looked upon the meadows
Staring blank against the sun,
Then we thought upon the future
And the work that must be done.

3. Fear! we knew not, for Vengeance
Burned fierce in every heart;
Doubt! why doubt, when we but hungered
Each to do a true man’s part?
"On to Ross!" our pulses quickened
As the word from man to man
Passed along, and brave John Kelly
Forward stepped to lead the van.

4. Through the misty summer morn
By the hedgerows bright we sped,
While the lark with joyous music
Filled the spreading dome o’erhead.
And the sun rode up the circle,
And the earth began to smile,
But our hearts knew nought of pleasure,
They were cold as ice the while.

5. Silent all, with stony gaze,
And lips as tightly locked as death,
On we went by flowering thorns
Through the balmy summer’s breath,
On, till Ross was close upon us,
Then a shout resounding rose,
And like ocean’s waves in winter
In we leaped upon our foes!

6. For a brief, brief spell they quavered,
Then their muskets rang reply,
And our boys in hundreds falling
Looked their last upon the sky.
But, the empty places filling,
Still we rallied to the fray,
Till the misty summer morning
Wore into the dusty day.

7. Then a figure rose above us,
‘twas a girl’s fragile frame,
And among the fallen soldiers there
She walked with eyes aflame,
And her voice rang o’er the clamour
Like a trumpet o’er the sea:
"Who so dares to die for Ireland,
Let him come and follow me."

8. Then against the line of soldiers
With a gleaming scythe on high,
Lo! she strode, and though their bullets
Whistled round, they passed her by,
And a thousand bosoms throbbing,
One wild surging shout we gave,
And we swept them from our pathway
Like the sand before the wave.

An incident of the Rebellion of 1798. The heroine was a girl named Molly Doyle, of Castleboro. She persuaded her father to return home because of his age and she took his place in the Insurgent ranks

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