59 Coirneál Ó hOireamhan - Colonel John Irwin
Coirneál Ó hOireamhan - Colonel John Irwin

family crest
Irwin Family Crest

This lively piece was composed for Colonel John Irwin of Tanrego House, which is situated on Ballysodare Bay, Co. Sligo. In the second verse Carolan mentions the Colonel's exploits in Flanders and speaks of him as a young man. The song was composed probably not long after the Peace of Utrecht in 1713 when the Colonel would be home from the wars ...Donal O'Sullivan vol 2 pg 36 No 59.

As to the history of the Irwin family, in 1655 Henry Irwin was a new Proprietor, grantee of lands under the Cromwellian settlement and Alexander Irwin received a grant of land in satisfaction of arrears of pay due him. He was on the side of King William in the wars and a Protestant.

Racha mé ar cuairt suas gan spás
Fá dhéin dhuine uasal suadhamhail sásta
An Coirneál suairc tá ar bhruach na trágha,
Sgéal dob' áil liom trácht air.

Fear nach leigionn sgith don chopán
Is anmhail leis ceól agus ól gan racán,
'Sé seo Seón gan amhras,
An t-óigfhear Gaodhalach Gállta.

We will take our way without delay
To see a noble, brave and gay,
The gallant Colonel near the sea,
Him I mean to treat of.

With mirth and joy he fills his glasses,
Delights to cheer both lads and lasses,
This is John, I will answer,
The brave English Irelander.


Song Notations

During the troubled times of 1688-91 the head of the family was another Alexander Irwin, known as 'the fox.'He left his wife and children for safety (as he thought) in the town of Sligo. But they were captured by Sir Teague O'Regan, who remarked, 'though the Fox has escaped, I have the cubs!'

The Irwins were near neighbors of the Croftons of Longford House just a few miles from Tanrego house. The Croftons were Catholics and adherents of King James II; yet Henry Crofton gave the Irwin family shelter and concealment from the Jacobite forces including Alexander Irwin (the Fox).

Replay background music: Colonel John Irwin
Irish & English Text: Carolan, the Life and Times of an Irish Harper by Donal O'Sullivan, 1958 Vol 2 pg 36-7 No 59.
Another Irish Text: Amhráin Chearbhalláin le Tomás O'Máille, 1916, leath. 145 uimh. 32.
Courtesy of Vivian and Jack Hennessey, IrishPage.com 2004