August 13, 2014

From Garryowen and glory

The song Garryowen today is best associated with the U.S. Civil War and later as the regimental marching song for George Custer’s Seventh Calvary. The song actually originates from the Irish city of Limerick in the 1780s.

Garryowen was sung by a gang of wealthy troublemakers who enjoyed drinking in the popular and fashionable Limerick suburb of Garryowen (translated as “the garden of John”). The young hooligans enjoyed smashing property that did not belong to them. The song eventually became popular in the British Army since many Irishmen were recruited. During the wars with France between 1793-1815, Garryowen became the second most popular song in the British Army, after British Grenadiers

The lyrics for Garryowen:

            Let Bacchus’s sons be not dismayed,
            But join with me each jovial blade,
            Come, booze and sing and lend me aid,
            To help me with the chorus.
                        Instead of spa we’ll drink down ale,
                        And pay the reckoning on the nail,
                        For debt no man shall go to jail,
                        From Garryowen and glory.

            We’ll break windows, we’ll break doors,
            The watch knock down by threes and fours,
            Then let the doctors work their cures,
            And tinker up our bruises.
                        Instead of spa we’ll drink down ale, etc.

            Our hearts so stout have got us fame,
            For soon ‘tis known form whence we came,
            Where’er we go they dread the name,
            Of Garryowen in glory.
Instead of spa we’ll drink down ale, etc.

If you want to hear this song and many more, head out to the annual Fife and Drum Muster and Soldiers’ Field Day this weekend. Fife and Drum corps and infantry units from historic sites across Canada and the U.S. will be at Fort George. Click here for more information.

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