"Croppy" Songs

Croppy / croppie was a derogatory nickname given to Irish rebels during the period of the 1798 Rebellion. It was a reference to people with closely cropped hair, a fashion associated with the anti-wig (and therefore, anti-aristocrat) French revolutionaries of the period. Those with their hair cropped were automatically suspected of sympathies with the pro-French underground organisation, the Society of United Irishmen and were consequently liable to seizure for interrogation by pro-British forces. Suspected United Irish sympathisers were often subjected to torture by flogging, picketing and half-hanging but the reactive contemporary torture, pitchcapping, was specifically invented to intimidate “croppys”. There is evidence of United Irish activists retaliating by cropping the hair of loyalists to reduce the reliability of this method of identifying rebel sympathisers.

The Croppy Boy

 

It was early, early in the Spring

The birds did whistle and sweetly sing,

Changing their notes from tree to tree

And the song they sang was: Old Ireland free!

 

It was early early in the night,

The yeoman cavalry gave me a fright;

To my misfortune and sad downfall,

I was taken prisoner by Lord Cornwall.

 

‘Twas in the guard-house where I was laid,

And in a parlour where I was tried;

My sentence passed and my courage low

When to New Geneva* I was forced to go.

 

When I was marching through the street,

The drums and fifes did play so sweet,

The drums and fifes so sweetly play,

As we were marching so far away.

 

When I was going past my father’s door,

My brother, William, stood on the floor;

My aged father did grieve full sore,

And my tender mother her hair she tore.

 

When my sister, Mary, heard the express,

She ran down stairs in her morning dress,

Saying: one hundred guineas I would lay down

To see you liberated in Wexford town.

 

When I was marching o’er Wexford Hill,

Oh! who could blame me to cry my fill?

I looked behind, I looked before,

But my tender mother I ne’er saw more.

 

I chose the black, I chose the blue,

I forsook the red and orange too,

I did forsake them and did them deny,

I worn the green, and for it I’d die.

 

Farewell, father, and mother, too,

And sister Mary, I have none but you,

And for my brother he’s all alone,

He’s pointing pikes on the grinding stone.

 

It was in old Ireland this young man died,

And in old Ireland his body’s laid,

All the good people that do pass by

Pray the lord have mercy on the Croppy Boy.

In the church at Crooke (Co. Waterford) there is a marker to indicate the grave of the “Unknown Croppy”, (the “Unknown Soldier” of the rebellion) as the nearby Passage East and Geneva Barracks were sites of execution and transportation of many rebels. The GPS coordinates for the grave of the Croppy Boy are N 52° 13.642′ W006° 58.756′ and the GPS coordinates for Geneva Barracks are N 52° 13.042′ W006° 58.737′.

“The Croppy Boy” is the name given to 1798 commemorative monuments in several Irish towns.

“The Croppy Acre” is a landscape area in DUBLIN, located between Collins Barracks and the River Liffey, wherethe remains of many rebels are said to bre interred.

Seamus Heaney commemorated the fate of thousands of fallen United Irish rebels in his 1966 poem Requiem for the Croppies.

“Croppies Lie Down” is an anonymous anti-republican folksong celebrating the defeat and suppression of the 1798 rebels. The song is famous, or notorious, for being played by members of the Orange Order

Croppies Lie Down

We soldiers of Erin, so proud of the name

We’ll raise on the rebels and Frenchmen our fame;

We’ll fight to the last in the honest old cause,

And guard our religion, our freedom and laws;

We’ll fight for our country, our King and his crown,

And make all the traitors and croppies lie down.

Down, down, croppies lie down.

 

The rebels so bold, when they’ve none to oppose,

To houses and haystacks are terrible foes;

They murder poor parsons and likewise their wives,

At the sight of a soldier they run for their lives;

Whenever we march over country and town

In ditches and cellars the croppies lie down.

Down, down, croppies lie down

 

In Dublin the traitors were ready to rise

And murder was seen in their lowering eyes

With poison, the cowards, they aimed to succeed

And thousands were doomed by the assassins to bleed

But the yeoman advanced, of rebels the dread

And each croppy soon hid his dastardly head

Down, down, croppies lie down

 

Should France e’er attempt, by fraud or by guile,

Her forces to land on Erin’s green isle,

We’ll show that they n’er can make free soldiers slaves,

They shall only possess our green fields for their graves;

Our country’s applauses our triumphs will crown,

Whilst with their French brothers the croppies lie down.

Down, down, croppies lie down

 

Oh, croppies ye’d better be quiet and still

Ye shan’t have your liberty, do what ye will

As long as salt water is formed in the deep

A foot on the necks of the croppy we’ll keep

And drink, as in bumpers past troubles we drown,

A health to the lads that made croppies lie down

Down, down, croppies lie down.