A reg­u­lar fea­ture on tra­di­tional songs of County Wex­ford. This week: Ba­ge­nal Har­vey’s Farewell

Wexford People - - NEWS - with AILEEN LAM­BERT

Paddy Berry, the renowned Wex­ford tra­di­tional singer and song col­lec­tor, per­formed this song at a gath­er­ing at Tu­lach a tSo­lais on Ou­lart Hill on Fri­day June 1. This mon­u­ment to the me­mory of those who fought in the 1798 Re­bel­lion pro­vided an ideal set­ting for singers to gather and share a col­lec­tion of ’98 songs and bal­lads not least be­cause of the rel­e­vance of the bat­tle site but also due to the beau­ti­ful acous­tics within the struc­ture it­self.

The per­for­mance was broad­cast on Face­book Live as part of the on­line series ‘The First of the Month’ by Michael For­tune and Rob­bie Sin­nott which ex­plores folk­lore, cus­toms and tra­di­tional song.

Paddy de­scribed how he was in­tro­duced to the song by Tommy Mal­lon as he was com­ing from mass in Rathangan Church some­time in the 1950’s.

Tommy was re­garded as a great piccolo player and was a mem­ber of the May­glass Ceilí band. Tommy hummed the air of the song to him and gave him the words.

Apart from find­ing the lyrics printed in the New Ross Stan­dard in 1889 Paddy’s sub­se­quent re­search on the song yielded no other source. It’s likely that Tommy knew well that he was plac­ing the song in safe hands and as a re­sult the song Ba­ge­nal Har­vey’s Farewell is sung by a num­ber of singers in Wex­ford and be­yond.

Beauchamp Ba­ge­nal Har­vey was a barrister and a com­man­der of the United Ir­ish­men in the Bat­tle of New Ross dur­ing the 1798 Re­bel­lion. He was the el­dest son of Fran­cis Har­vey of Bargy Cas­tle and was ed­u­cated at Trin­ity Col­lege, Dublin.

He was a Protes­tant who was known for his lib­eral prin­ci­ples and as a sup­porter of Catholic eman­ci­pa­tion. Just be­fore the out­break of the 1798 Re­bel­lion Har­vey was ar­rested at his home on 26 May 1798 at 11.00 p.m. A rebel colonel, An­thony Perry, di­vulged the in­for­ma­tion af­ter giv­ing in to tor­ture by Crown forces. He was im­pris­oned at Wex­ford jail un­til its oc­cu­pa­tion by the rebels and on his lib­er­a­tion he was ap­pointed Com­man­der-in-Chief of the rebel forces.

His first plan was to ad­vance west­wards via New Ross into County Kilkenny in hope of find­ing new sup­port­ers for the Re­bel­lion. He was in com­mand at the Bat­tle of New Ross on June 5 1798 when the rebels were de­feated. Fol­low­ing the rebels’ de­feat at Vine­gar Hill on June 21 the King’s Troops re-oc­cu­pied Wex­ford Town.

Har­vey took refuge on one of the Sal­tee Is­lands where he was later dis­cov­ered and brought to Wex­ford Town. There he was tried, con­victed and hanged on Wex­ford bridge on June 28 1798.

A record­ing of Paddy sing­ing Ba­ge­nal Har­vey’s Farewell along with a video record­ing of the en­tire ‘First of the Month’ con­cert is avail­able to view on the ‘Songs of Wex­ford’ face­book page.

Ba­ge­nal Har­vey’s Farewell

Farewell to Bargy’s lofty tow­ers, my fa­ther’s own es­tate

And farewell to its lovely bow­ers, my own an­ces­tral seat Farewell each friend and neigh­bour, that once I well knew there My ten­ants now will miss the hand that fos­tered them with care

Farewell to Cor­nelius Gro­gan, and to Kelly ever true

John Coak­ley and good Fa­ther Roche, re­ceive my last adieu And fare-thee-well bold Es­mond Kyan, though proud op­pres­sion’s laws

For­bid us to lay down our lives, still we bless the holy cause

Farewell my brave United men, who dearly with me fought Though tyrant might has con­quered right, full dearly was it bought

And when the sun of free­dom shall again upon you shine Oh, then let Ba­ge­nal Har­vey’s name ar­ray your bat­tle line

Al­though per­chance it may be my fate, in Wex­ford town to die Oh, bear my body to the tomb wherin my fa­thers lie

And have the solemn ser­vice read, in May­glass holy tow­ers And have twelve young maids from Bar­gy­side, to scat­ter my grave with flow­ers

So farewell to Bargy’s lofty tow­ers, since from you I must part A stranger now may call you his, which with sor­row fills my heart

But when at last fate shall de­cree that Ire­land should be free Then Ba­ge­nal Har­vey’s right­ful heir shall be re­turned to thee

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