1. Entertainment
Send to a Friend via Email

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

Kelly the Boy From Killane




(c) Stockbyte / Getty Images

The Real Kelly of Killane:

John Kelly, whose birth date was unknown but who died on June 22, 1798, was an active member of the United Irish (a revolutionary organization aimed at restoring Irish independence) who fought in the 1798 Rebellion. He was one of the leaders of the victory over the English at the Battle of New Ross, but was later captured from his bed and hanged and decapitated by British soldiers.

The Song History:

"Kelly of Killane" (also known as "Kelly From Killane" and "Kelly the Boy From Killane," with "Killane" alternately spelled as "Killanne") was written by influential poet Patrick Joseph McCall, who also wrote the classic ballad "Boolavogue," and whose favorite subject included the 1798 Rebellion and the freedom fighters who took part. It's likely, though uncertain, that McCall wrote the tune to this one himself, as well.


What's the news, what's the news, O my bold Shelmalier
With your long-barreled gun from the sea
Say what wind from the South blows his messenger here
With a hymn of the dawn for the free
Goodly news, goodly news, do I bring Youth of Forth
Goodly news shall you hear Bargy man
For the boys march at morn from the South to the North
Led by Kelly the boy from Killane.

Tell me who is that giant with the gold curling hair
He who rides at the head of your band
Seven feet is his height with some inches to spare
And he looks like a king in command
Ah, my lads, that's the pride of the bold Shelmaliers
Among our greatest of heroes a man
Fling your beavers aloft and give three ringing cheers
For John Kelly, the Boy from Killane.

Enniscorthy's in flames and old Wexford is won
And the Barrow tomorrow we will cross
On a hill o'er the town we have planted a gun
That will batter the gateway of Ross
All the Forth men and Bargy men march o'er the heath
With brave Harvey to lead on the van
But the foremost of all in the grim Gap of Death
Will be Kelly, the boy from Killane

But the gold sun of freedom grew darkened at Ross
And it set by the Slaney's red waves
And poor Wexford, stripped naked, hung high on a cross
And her heart pierced by traitors and slaves
Glory O! Glory O! to her brave sons who died
For the cause of long down-trodden man
Glory O! to Mount Leinster's own darling and pride
Dauntless Kelly, the Boy from Killane

Notable Versions:

  1. About.com
  2. Entertainment
  3. World Music
  4. Celtic
  5. Irish Song Lyrics
  6. Kelly the Boy From Killane -- History and Song Lyrics

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.