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Songs of Ireland

Patriot Game

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Songs of Ireland

words and music by Dominic Behan

Come all ye young rebels, and list while I sing,
For the love of one's country is a terrible thing.
It banishes fear with the speed of a flame,
And it makes us all part of the patriot game.

My name is O'Hanlon, and I've just turned sixteen.
My home is in Monaghan, and where I was weaned
I learned all my life cruel England's to blame,
So now I am part of the patriot game.

This Ireland of ours has too long been half free.
Six counties lie under John Bull's tyranny.
But still De Valera is greatly to blame
For shirking his part in the Patriot game.

They told me how Connolly was shot in his chair,
His wounds from the fighting all bloody and bare.
His fine body twisted, all battered and lame
They soon made me part of the patriot game.

It's nearly two years since I wandered away
With the local battalion of the bold IRA,
For I read of our heroes, and wanted the same
To play out my part in the patriot game.

[extra verse I found]
I don't mind a bit if I shoot down police
They are lackeys for war never guardians of peace
And yet at deserters I'm never let aim
The rebels who sold out the patriot game

And now as I lie here, my body all holes
I think of those traitors who bargained in souls
And I wish that my rifle had given the same
To those Quislings who sold out the patriot game.


D A7 D


Background: Tune: "One Morning In May", or "God on Our Side". This song was written by Dominic Behan, brother of Brendan. It tells the story of Fergal O'Hanlon from Ballybay, Co Monaghan, who tried to abolish the border between the Six Counties and the Republic. He was killed during the Brookborough attack at the age of 17. The song has become world famous. Undoubtedly one of the best ballads ever to come out of the Irish struggles.

During our first year together, we were introduced to a wide variety of music. One of the first tapes someone lent me was a tape of I.R.B. tunes. Well the very first task we had to figure out was what I.R.B. stood for? Irish Republican Brotherhood. The Irish Republican Brotherhood was formed on Saint Patrick's Day in 1858. It was an underground organization designed to remove the English from Ireland.

The song was recorded by numerous artists including Bob Dylan and the Kingston Trio. Our version came from the aforementioned I.R.B. compilation. I think it may have been the Wolfe Tones who sang it, but I'm not sure. In any case, it was the first rebel song we learned, and still one of our most popular.

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