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Collection of eighty street ballads: The Wearing of the Green

Collection of eighty street ballads on forty sheets, mostly with a woodcut printed at London, the majority by J. Catnach (1820ñ1830). London: n.p., n.d. University of Minnesota Libraries. WILSON Rare Books Quarto 820.1 C683.

Half-sheet broadside, pasted to album leaf 3.

Printed title: The Wearing of the Green.

The Wearing of the Green

London :óH. Such, Printer & Publisher,
177, Union-street, Borough,óS. E.
      Farewell! for I must leave thee, my own, my native shore,
      And doomed in foreign lands to dwell, may never see thee more:
      For laws, our tyrant laws, have said that seas must roll between
      Old Erin and her faithful sons, that loved to wear the green.

      Oh! we love to wear the green, Oh! how we love the green,
      On native land we cannot stand for wearing of the green,
      Yet wheresoe'er the exile lives, tho' oceans roll between,
      Thy faithful sons will fondly sing "The wearing of the green."

      My father loved his country, and sleeps within her breast,
      While I that would have died for her, may never be so blest;
      Those tears my mother shed for me, how bitter they'd have been
      If I had proved a traitor to "The wearing of the green."

      There were some that wore the green, who did betray the green,
      On native land we cannot stand thro' traitor to the green,
      Yet whatsoe'er our fate may be, when oceans roll between,
      Her faithful sons will ever sing "The wearing of the green."

      Remember Father Murphy and Emmett that was brave,
      Not forgetting Dan O'Connell, that now lies in his grave,
      If those heroes were alive, boys, their country they'd redeem,
      And shortly have the union back once more in College Green.


Basic transcription by Brett Single.  Pointed brackets mark conjectural emendation.

Daniel O'Connell, the Irish leader commemorated in the last stanza, died in 1847.  H. P. Such was "the last of the ballad publishers"; he began business in 1849, and his family continued it "until as late as 1917" (Leslie Shepard, John Pitts [London: Private Libraries Association], 1969), 84).  Presumably the number "599" refers to Such's inventory of items for sale.

This ballad updates (and names, in the next-to-last stanza) a famous ballad of the same title, in circulation since the turn of the century and later revised by the Irish-American playwright Dion Boucicault (1820?-1890).  It began, "Oh! Paddy dear and did you hear the news that's going round,/ The Shamrock is forbidden by law to grow on Irish ground./ No more St. Patrick's Day we'll keep, his colors can't be seen,/ For there's a cruel law against the wearing of the Green.// I met with Napper Tandy, and he took me by the hand,/ And he said 'How's poor old Ireland and how does she stand?'/ She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen,/ For they're hangin' men an' women for the wearing of the Green."  (James Napper Tandy, the Irish revolutionary hero, died in 1803.)

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Michael Hancher
Department of English, University of Minnesota
URL: <http://umn.edu/home/mh/wearing.html>
Comments to: mh@umn.edu
Created 8 April 1997
Revised 28 June 1997