The Enniskillen Dragoon

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"The Enniskillen Dragoon" (Roud 2185; [1] [2] also called "Enniskillen Dragoon" or "The Enniskillen Dragoons") is an Irish folk song associated with the Inniskilling Dragoons, a British Army regiment based at Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, in what is now Northern Ireland. The air was used as the regiment's signature quick march. [3] The oldest lyrics tell of the love of a local lady for a soldier serving in the eponymous regiment.

The Roud Folk Song Index is a database of around 250,000 references to nearly 25,000 songs collected from oral tradition in the English language from all over the world. It is compiled by Steve Roud, a former librarian in the London Borough of Croydon. Roud's Index is a combination of the Broadside Index and a "field-recording index" compiled by Roud. It subsumes all the previous printed sources known to Francis James Child and includes recordings from 1900 to 1975. Until early 2006 the index was available by a CD subscription; now it can be found online on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website, maintained by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS). A partial list is also available at List of folk songs by Roud number.

British Army land warfare branch of the British Armed Forces of the United Kingdom

The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.

Enniskillen town and civil parish in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

Enniskillen is a town and civil parish in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. It is located almost exactly in the centre of the county, between the Upper and Lower sections of Lough Erne. It had a population of 13,823 at the 2011 Census. It was the seat of local government for the former Fermanagh District Council, and is the county town of Fermanagh as well as its largest town.


E. M. Morphy remembered hearing the "familiar old ballad" in Toronto on his arrival from Enniskillen in 1835. [4] William Frederick Wakeman in 1870 called it "an old song once, and to some extent still[,] popular on the banks of the Erne". [5] Patrick Weston Joyce (1827–1914) wrote in 1909: [6]

Toronto Provincial capital city in Ontario, Canada

Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the most populous city in Canada, with a population of 2,731,571 in 2016. Current to 2016, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA), of which the majority is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), held a population of 5,928,040, making it Canada's most populous CMA. The city is the anchor of the Golden Horseshoe, an urban agglomeration of 9,245,438 people surrounding the western end of Lake Ontario. Toronto is an international centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.

William Frederick Wakeman Irish archaeologist

William Frederick Wakeman was an Irish archaeologist, initially producing works as an artist and then as an author.

Lough Erne lake in the United Kingdom

Lough Erne is the name of two connected lakes in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. It is the second-biggest lake system in Northern Ireland and Ulster, and the fourth biggest in Ireland. The lakes are widened sections of the River Erne, which flows north and then curves west into the Atlantic. The smaller southern lake is called the Upper Lough as it is higher up the river. The bigger northern lake is called the Lower Lough or Broad Lough. The town of Enniskillen lies on the short stretch of river between the lakes. The lake has 150+ islands along with many coves and inlets. When windy, navigation on Lower Lough Erne, running for 26 miles (42 km) almost to the Atlantic, can be something of a challenge with waves of open-sea dimensions. Shallow Upper Lough Erne, spreading southeast of Enniskillen for about 12 miles, is a maze of islands. The River Erne is 80 miles (129 km) long and drains an area of about 1680 square miles (4,350 km2).

This song, though of Ulster origin, was a great favourite in Munster, where I learned it when very young: it was indeed sung all over Ireland. I published the words more than fifty years ago in a newspaper called "The Tipperary Leader," and I have several copies printed on ballad-sheets. Some few years ago I gave a copy of the air — as I had it in memory — to Dr. [George] Sigerson, who wrote a new song to it which was published in Mr. A. P. Graves's "Irish Song Book" : and in that publication — so far as I know — the air appeared in print for the first time.

Sigerson's version adapts the chorus and replaces the verses entirely. [7] In the 1960s, Tommy Makem, who characterised the original as having "obscure verses and a very singable chorus", wrote new verses with the regiment's soldiers describing their service in the Peninsular War. Makem renamed it "Fare Thee Well Enniskillen" and performed it with the Clancy Brothers. [8]

Tommy Makem Irish musician, artist and poet

Thomas "Tommy" Makem was an internationally celebrated Irish folk musician, artist, poet and storyteller. He was best known as a member of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. He played the long-necked 5-string banjo, tin whistle, low whistle, guitar, bodhrán and bagpipes, and sang in a distinctive baritone. He was sometimes known as "The Bard of Armagh" and "The Godfather of Irish Music".

Peninsular War War by Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom against the French Empire (1807–1814)

The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was a military conflict between Napoleon's empire and Bourbon Spain, for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when the French and Spanish armies invaded and occupied Portugal in 1807, and escalated in 1808 when France turned on Spain, previously its ally. The war on the peninsula lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814, and is regarded as one of the first wars of national liberation, significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare.


The following text appears in an 1840 collection of American broadsides: [9]

A beautiful damsel of fame and renown,
A gentleman’s daughter of fame and renown,
As she rode by the barracks this beautiful maid,
She stood in her coach to see the draggoons parade.

They were all dress’d out like gentleman’s sons,
With their bright shining swords and carbine guns,
With their silver mounted pistols, she observed them full soon,
Because that she lov’d her Enniskillen draggoon.

You bright sons of Mars who stand on the right,
Whose armour doth shine like the bright stars of night,
Saying, Willy, dearest Willy, you’ve listed full soon,
For to serve as a royal Enniskillen draggoon.

Oh! Flora, dearest Flora, your pardon I crave,
It’s now and forever I must be a slave,
Your parents they insulted me both morning and noon,
For fear that you’d wed an Enniskillen draggoon.

Oh! mind, dearest Willy, O mind what you say,
For children are bound their parents to obey;
For when we ’re leaving Ireland they will all change their tune,
Saying, the Lord may be with you, Enniskillen draggoon.

Fare-you-well, Enniskillen, fare-you-well for a while,
And all around the borders of Erin’s green Isle;
And when the war is over we'll return in full bloom,
And they'll all welcome home the Enniskillen draggoon.

Joyce's 1909 version is similar; Flora is specified to be from Monaghan town. [6] In 1966, song collector Hugh Shields recorded Eddie Butcher of Inishowen singing a similar version as a slow lament. [1] A 1930 version adds a final verse in which Willy and Flora are married. [10]

Inishowen peninsula in Ireland

Inishowen is a peninsula in the north of County Donegal in Ireland. It is the largest peninsula on the island of Ireland. The Inishowen peninsula includes Ireland's most northerly point, Malin Head. The Grianan of Aileach, a ringfort that served as the royal seat of the over-kingdom of Ailech, stands at the entrance to the peninsula.

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  1. 1 2 "The Inniskilling dragoon, song / Eddie Butcher, singing in English". Inishowen Song Project. Irish Traditional Music Archive. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  2. "Roud Number 2185". Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. English Folk Dance and Song Society. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  3. Chant, Christopher (2013). The Handbook of British Regiments. Routledge. p. 25.
  4. Morphy, E. M. (1890). "The Landing in Toronto, Late York". A York pioneer looking back, 1834-1884 at youthful days, emigration and the drinking customs of fifty years ago also at the cranks met with in the Emerald Isle and Canada; with amusing incidents and anecdotes of the early settler in the latter place ... and a brief sketch of the York Pioneers' Society. Toronto: Budget Press (printer). pp. 15–16.
  5. Wakeman, William Frederick (1870). Lough Erne, Enniskillen, Belleek, Ballyshannon, and Bundoran : with routes from Dublin to Enniskillen and Bundoran, by rail or by steamboat. Dublin: J. Mullany. p. 165. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  6. 1 2 Joyce, Patrick Weston; Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (1909). "No.399: The Enniskillen Dragoon". Old Irish folk music and songs : a collection of 842 Irish airs and songs, hitherto unpublished. London: Longmans, Green. pp. 208–209. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  7. Sigerson, George (1922). "38: The Inniskillen Dragoon" (PDF). In Graves, Alfred Perceval (ed.). The Irish Song Book: With Original Irish Airs (14th ed.). London: T. Fisher Unwin. p. 54. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  8. Makem, Tommy (2014-08-19). Tommy Makem's Secret Ireland. St. Martin's Press. pp. 86–87. ISBN   9781466878303 . Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  9. "Lovely Ann, and Enniskillen Draggoon". A collection of American songs and ballads, 205 in number. With a ms. index. 1840. No. 92.
  10. "Enniskillen Dragoon". Glasgow Broadside Ballads. University of Glasgow. Retrieved 13 December 2017.