Siege of Drogheda-September 1649


             In the Mud of Millmount Mound

                               By TR



     "He who could take Drogheda could take Hell." ~Sir Arthur Aston





Sing Johnnie, Sing Johnnie, Sing Johnnie O'Shea!

Call voices who wind with the winds

Bring Johnnie, bring Johnnie, bring Johnnie O'Shea

Back home for t' sleep beside kin


'Twas late in th' summer tha' long ago night

When th' boys from County Connacht went to War;

Though young, they were fearless an' armored so bright

When they marched t' tha' far eastern shore.


For God an' for Ireland, sang th' boys as they walked:

We'll send those damn Red-Coats t' Hell,

For they canna' stand against brave Connacht boys--

We'll ring out Vict'ry with St. Mary's bell!


Now, two o' tha' number were friends all th'ir lives

An' marched now as brothers to th' War;

Too young t' have children, too young t' have wives

So to live 'r die by each other they swore.


One Johnnie, sweet Johnnie, ha' eyes like blue skies

His darlin' Conor's were shamrock green--

Together bold; they were lovin', not gi'en to lies

Though neither past Connemara ha' been.


Solemn Oath und'r Heaven is both bindin' an' true

An' canna' be broke nor ignored,

Thus th' boys pledged their hearts an' their honor a-new

As they marched along-side farmer an' Lord.


With all Ireland in peril an' Cromwell a' hand,

They'd both set aside childish things

To fight an' be heroes for their blood an' their land:

To Drogheda they flew on wild wings…


Drogheda, Drogheda, Droichead Átha fair!

Walled, circled tight o'er nearly two miles;

Drogheda, Drogheda, like fey castles in air!

She'd sure withstand Cromwell's fell wiles.


Side by side an' th'ir hearts filled wi' glories,

Marched dear Johnnie an' young Conor up Dale

Into th' Church o' Saint Mary, like heroes in stories

For they knew Irish Folk would pre-vail.


Sing Johnnie, Sing Johnnie, Sing Johnnie O'Shea!

Call voices in th' whispering winds

Bring Johnnie, bring Johnnie, bring Johnnie O'Shea

Back home for to sleep wi' his kin


Within th' wall o' Drogheda, Connacht boys muster'd,

There under banners where Aston stood tall;

Love o' Free Ireland ha' brought fair lads clustered

Who would no' ha' Free Ireland in thrall.


Tho' outnumbered, Drogheda wa' stout,

Wi' twenty-foot walls thick an' strong;

Cromwell's army would be driven t' rout

Sent to Hell or to Eng-land 'er long!


All night, th' boys singin', watched Cromwell's force

Cross th' Boyne an' deploy south o' their Wall,

But na could take Drogheda: not soldiers nor horse,

She'd stood firm for years past livin' recall.


Inside her walls, def'nders 'waited th' dawn

An' tho' feared, they refused t' withdraw;

For battle wa' needful lest be freedom foregone

An' Ireland crushed 'neath out-lander law.


Johnnie an' Conor were on Mary's high steeple

With steel muskets t' pick off th' foe;

Lookin' down on soldiers, too small t' be people,

Wa' far easier done there than 'low.


For though Johnnie an' Conor ha' ne'er fired on a man,

Tha' high height made their aim care-ful brave;

They shot down a' Red-Coats for God an' for clan,

Knowing their Duty, they'd ha' Ireland saved.


But th' Roundheads seem'd endless, crumblin' Wall ceased t' hide,

For th' cruel cannons did ne'er cease end-less roar;

'round Johnnie an' Conor their childhood friends died

'Til e'en they knew Ire-land held Drogheda n' more.


Yet surrender they could na, for Aston ha' said

Th' English would no quarter nor no mercy show;

Thus, Johnnie an' Conor, in long friendship wed

Swore would stay t'gether if they were brought low.


Sing Johnnie, O Johnnie, sing Johnnie O'Shea!

Calls a familiar faint voice on th' wind

Bring Johnnie, your Johnnie, bring Johnnie O'Shea

Back home safely t' Connacht an' kin


They dashed down th' turret, an' wi' those left breathin',

Did rush retreat-- for t' turn and fight a' Mill Mount--

Johnnie an' Conor, t' each beloved friend cleavin',

Fearful down in th' muck o' this terrible rout.


On right an' on left, did their fellows fall screaming,

As Cromwell's cannon an' muskets shook ground:

"Johnnie," called Conor, "I feel that we're dreamin'

An' that we'll ne'er wake up from this Mound!"


"Oh, Conor, ha' courage!" his Johnnie did urge

"I'm feared, but it's together we'll finally g' home!"

At these words did hi' lad Conor hear dirge,

As h' envisioned sinkin' stone dead in loam.


"Go home" to angels or "go home" t' Galway

May be a' th' same to Johnnie, tho'ght Conor;

But I would no' die here, if I ha' it m' way--

I'd fain live tomorro' than ch'rish cold hon'r.


Crouched low an' defenseless, Johnnie watched friend,

Worried, for dark thoughts flew cross tha' brow:

Wi' wha' cruel fears did his sweet friend contend

An' wha' promise might they make him dis'vow?


For faintly remembered are oaths sworn an' love

When blood, death an' smoke fill th' eye:

Did this new fearin' Conor rem'mber his Johnnie belove'

Or would his oft promis'd word turn t' lie?


Johnnie knew terror a' they crouched on Mill Mount

With wha' ragged brave Irish remained,

But his fright wa' na for death nor heaven's account:

More than all, he feared dyin' unclaimed.


"Abandon me not!" cried Johnnie t' his Conor dear

"I would not ha' my bones lost in fens an' in mud,

Nor yours neith'r!" an' yes! Conor heard clear--

But just then saw Johnnie blossom wi' blood…


Sing Johnnie, O Johnnie, sweet Johnnie O'Shea!

Cries e'er cruel th' Sep-tember wind

Bring Johnnie, your Johnnie, bring Johnnie O'Shea

Bring him home t' his loved ones an' kin


Chest red wi' heart's blood, di' Johnnie grasp tight

Th' hands o' his dearest lone friend;

There on tha' far field, he gave na his life light,

Only gazed deep in Conor's eyes t' th' end.


He had na th' strength t' do more tha' murmur

His dyin' whisper wa' light as th' wind;

An' though Conor held 'to Johnnie e'er firmer,

Johnnie feared his friend's soul ha' sinned.


So therefore said Johnnie, wi' his ragged las' breath,

"O dear Conor, forget not your word!"--

Before he ha' answer, he surrendered t' Death

An' knew na if his last words were heard.


With Johnnie in his arms, Conor look'd upward

As if t' see wheth'r angels wou' come nigh:

But he saw naught there, no choir - no reward,

Though poor Johnnie ha' come so far t' die.


'round him, th' smoke cleared enough t' distinguish

Th' Red-Coats be-gin their last charge uphill;

At tha', both his faith an'  his love extinguished

An' he dropped Johnnie, who lay silent an' still.


Conor ran from th' Red-Coats, he ran withou' thinkin',

He ran hard 'til both lungs seared wi' fire;

Tellin' himself tha' his heart wa' not shrinkin'

From Johnnie, bu' from death in tha' mire.


Cromwell an' his Red-Coats under Parli'ment flag,

Took th' Mount an' slew all those they found;

Though later he claimed this wa' warfare's tru' tag

They were ruthless as they blooded th' Mound.


Townsfolk were slaughtered li' lambs in th' spring,

Dead women-folk an' children filled square;

This wa' all done for a' England withou' crown'd King--

Its muddied glory all Cromwell's affair.


Sing Johnnie, O Johnnie, Sing Johnnie O'Shea!

Calls a voice tha' winds through th' wind

Bring Johnnie, bring Johnnie, bring Johnnie O'Shea

Back home for t' sleep beside kin


Back home t' Connacht, did Conor come creeping,

His arms an' honor left back on th' Mound;

For th' others who came home, fair full o' weepin',

Told of th' bloody end-- an' Conor na found.


So many lay dead, an' so many lay dyin',

Yet th' others did na leave fall-en dead;

They crept back t' gather their friends who were lyin'

On tha' field where so many ha' bled.


But Johnnie, O Johnnie, they di' na find Johnnie,

Whose bright blue eyes would ne'er more shine;

Thus was he na brought back t' Galway so bonnie

But left lost somewhere on Mount's muddy decline.


Johnnie's mother wailin' an' his sister keenin'

Did not seem t' reach in-side Conor's hard heart,

For he ne'er said one word, ne'er intervenin'

When Connacht folk did hold him a-part.


A' Conor grew older, a-lone in his room,

Children walkin' by would som'times throw stones;

But old lone Conor wa' lyin' there inside a tomb

Wi' no loved one to cry o'er his bones.


For all knew o' Johnnie, how Conor ha' loved him,

Yet ha' left him there so far from home:

Coward Conor they called him--he'd jus' look grim--

He walked on an' ever always a-lone.


None o' this hurt him, he told hi'self stern,

When he wa' taunted an' hated by all;

But one thing could touch hi' an' make his heart yearn:

Those fey wh'spers when e'er Sept'mber called.


Each fall, th' winds came an' did whispers send

Through th' cracks an' chinks of Conor's cold soul,

In them, he heard clear th' voice o' his friend

An' long years' hearing ha' taken their toll.


Sing Johnnie, O Johnnie, Sing Johnnie O'Shea!

Calls a sweet voice when winds do blow through

Bring Johnnie, your Johnnie, bring Johnnie O'Shea

Back home for t' sleep safe be-side you


Old now an' outcast, unloved an'  na wanted--

On one bright day, Conor walked out o' th' square:

With unrested walkin', did Conor un-daunted

Reach Drogheda on naught but a prayer.


When Conor halted, he noticed th' clover

Green o'er the spot where Johnnie's blood ha' run red;

He remembered th' battle an' remembered moreover

When Johnnie had fall-en: two hearts ha' bled.


Wi' slow, aching movements but sure o' his ground,

Conor dug deep down an' through th' earth,

An' there where defenders ha' lost Millmount Mound

Conor finally proved his honor and worth.


He took up his Johnnie--wrapped 'round in linen--

An' slowly he walked them both home;

When Conor reached Connacht, he lay down his burthen

An' now neither needs never more roam.


Sing Conor, Sing Conor, who remembered a' last

What sweetness an' goodness ha' died!

For Conor brought Johnnie home from th' past,

Back home t' sleep safe at his side.


Drogheda, Drogheda, O Droichead Átha fair!

Walled an' guarded with stone lonely years;

Drogheda, Drogheda, now naught but ghost lair,

'Twas once cause o' so many shed tears.




"I do not think 30 of their whole number escaped with their lives."




               ~ Lord Lieutenant Cromwell, Siege of Drogheda, 1649


In the Mud of Millmount Mound is another tale in verse by Tragic Rabbit.  The story with all words and characters belongs to TR. Pease drop me a line if you enjoyed this or any other story.  Email author

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