The Inniskilling dragoon, song

Eddie Butcher, singing in English
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There was a fair lady lived in Monaghan town,
A rich merchant’s daughter of fame and renown;
As she strayed by the barracks this beautiful maid
She watched from her carriage the dragoons on parade.

Fare you well, Enniskillen, fare you well for a while
And all around the borders of Erin’s green isle
And when the war is over we’ll return in full bloom
And we’ll all welcome home our Inniskilling dragoon.

The dragoons they were dressed up like gentlemen’s sons
With their bright shining swords and their carabine guns;
Their silver-mounted pistols she observed them full soon
All because that she loved her Inniskilling dragoon.

– Oh mother, dear mother, for me do not weep,
My mother’s kind advice I am going for to keep;
My parents brought me up from a boy unto a man
And I’m going in defence of my own native land.


Dragoons – mounted infantry that fought on foot – long enjoyed popularity in folk song. The Inniskillings were remembered for their part in the Williamite campaign, when a Huguenot diarist is reported as writing that he had seen them ‘run like masty dogs against bullets’ – UJA IV ser. 1 (1856) 80. An eighteenth-century biographer of William’s general Schomberg described them, with ‘thin little nags and the wretched dress of their riders, half-naked with sabre and pistols hanging from their belts’, as looking like a horde of Tartars’ – J.G. Simms Jacobite Ireland, 1685–91 London 1969, p. 127. Verse 2 paints a different picture: but it refers to a ceremonial occasion and a later date.

Irish and British broadside texts of the song are abundant. In a nineteenth-century ‘Answer’ the hero returns from the war in the role of an initially unrecognized lover – L: LR 271 a 2, IV 423. There are adaptations by George Sigerson and Tommy Makem. Popularity has given the song a high degree of melodic and textual stability, but Eddie’s conclusion is aberrant. A farewell of lovers divided by proud parents is replaced by a soldier’s farewell to his mother, taken from another song – see ‘The sunny South’ in Sharp1 II 263, Mackenzie p. 139.