Dolly's Brae

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Melody - Seq. by D. Lyszyk
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Being on the 12th day of July, eighteen and forth-nine
The pagans of this country together did combine,
To shoot and slay our Orangemen upon that glorious day,
They did encamp in thousands great at a place called Dolly's Brae.

2. Lord Roden was Grand Master of the Orangemen just then,
No better chieftain could be found among the sons of men:
To humanists he would not yield, nor any Popish foe.
He firmly stood like Joshua on the plains of Jericho.

3. He sent an invitation to Rathfriland Orange Corps,
To come and spend the day with him at sylvan Tollymore
The Orangemen they did obey their noble chief's command:
So over Dolly's Brae they marched, a loyal, stalwart band.

4. The sun did shine with splendor in a bright and cloudless sky,
Our drums did beat and fifes did play, and Orange flags did fly,
Each loyal son, with sword and gun, was ready for the fray,
Had the rebel hordes attacked us going over Dolly's Brae.

5. Priest Mooney and Priest Murphy went through the rebel lines,
Distributing the wafer god among the Phillistines;
Priest Mooney cursed the Orangemen with candle, book and bell,
While the rebel crowd did cry aloud, "We'll drive them all to hell."

6. But still the Orangemen marched on thru Castlewellan town,
Brave Jordan being in command, he feared no Popish frown,
He nobly led his brethren on like William, Prince of yore,
Until they reached the entrance gate of sylvan Tollymore.

7. A splendid arch that gate did span which we all passed thru,
And in the center of the arch these words appeared in view;
"Welcome all to Tollymore, this day we gladly join,
To commemorate and celebrate the victory of the Boyne".

8. Lord Roden gave a brief address, and then to us did say,
"Beware, my Orange brethren, going home by Dolly's Brae,
Give no offense to any man as you're returning home,
But don't look shy when passing by those pagan troops of Rome".

9. We loudly cheered for Roden then and for the British Crown;
Slieve Donard sent the echo back o'er Castlewellan town.
The pagans heard our loyal cheers, as they lay on the hill,
Awaiting there, like hungry wolves, our Orangemen to kill.

10. We formed in full procession and unfurled our flags once more;
We bade adieu to all the friends we left at Tollymore.
With fifes and drums and loaded guns we gaily marched away.
Resolving to defend ourselves going home o'er Dolly's Brae.

11. With courage strong we marched along thru Castlewellan town,
And when we reached the Boretree Hill, a messenger came down.
He says, "Prepare both front and rear, attend to what I say.
A hot reception you will get before you're o'er the Brae.

12. As o'er the Brae we did proceed, the road being very bare,
The Ribbonmen advantage took and fired upon our rear;
Like lions stout we wheeled about, with powder and with ball,
The volley we sent into them caused scores of them to fall.

13. The battle it raged loud and keen along the mountain-side,
To save ourselves, as best we could, our ranks we opened wide;
The volleys from the rebel guns had no effect at all,
For not a man among our ranks fell by a Papish ball.

14. As fearlessly we charged them, their terror it was great,
Thru rocks and whins, to save their shins, they beat a fast retreat
The Coolagh tykes threw down their pikes and boldly ran away,
And cursed the day they came to fight at fatal Dolly's Brae.

15. The battle being over, the glorious victory won.
We reached our homes that evening by the setting of the sun,
Our wives and sweethearts met us, returning home that day;
With shouts of joy they greeted us safe back o'er Dolly's Brae.

16. So now my song I mean to end, my pen I will throw down,
I say success to every man supports the British Crown,
And generations yet unborn shall sing this loyal lay,
And speak of those that beat their foes at famous Dolly's Brae.


Dolly's Brae is a road with a difficult pass in County Down. On July 12, 1848, a large assembly of Ribbonmen gathered with the intent of stopping the traditional march of Orangemen to Tollymore. The Orangemen were forewarned and avoided the Brae that year. Naturally, the opposition had a field day with that and songs appeared about their cowardice. So in 1849, the went through the Brae without problem. On the return from Castlewellan, they were ambushed at the Brae. They were prepared for such an eventuality and their return fire dropped over a score of men, without sustaining any losses themselves.

An outcome of this encounter was the passing of the Party Processions Act, which basically penalized Protestant "gatherings". Protestants argued that the law was ignored when the Nationalists "gathered".

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