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The Battle of Clontarf / Brian Boru's March

(Words and Music: McGettigan and Whelan, Helmar/McGuinness Whelan Music; Produced and arranged by David Gossage)

[WDIGFH]

Song: Key of D Minor; Guitar: Capo 5th fret, A Minor; Instrumental: E Minor

I remember first hearing this song on a Jim McCann album. I always felt it would fit well with Brian Boru's March. I particularly wanted Gerry O’Neill to play on it. Gerry’s version of the tune conveys the build-up to the battle, the fight itself, and also the sadness at the loss of one of Ireland’s greatest leaders. Brian Boru was really the last great High King of Ireland. His combined Irish force defeated the Norsemen on Good Friday 1014. It was the greatest military victory in the history of the Irish people.

Theys had come from the north
They had come from the south
With their swords held aloft
They would fight to the death
They would meet with the Norse
And always be true
And fight at the side
Of Brian Boru

Assembled in mail
These furious warriors
They had come sailing
Into the barriers
Fearless they stood
Those Nordic villagers
Ready to meet
With Brian Boru

But Brian called out
His hair like silver
Give them your all
Make them remember
Beat the Fingal
Send off the stranger
Stand by your king
Brian Boru

And even on this Holy Friday
The Vikings they sought
To make it their battle-day
Crucifix raised
There was no other way
Into the fray
Went Brian Boru

The battle raged on
Between Irish and Dane
And the Tolka ran red
There were so many slain
Brave Turlough he died
As did young Murrough too
Died at the side of Brian Boru

And just as the day
Was near victorious
Just as Clontarf
Showed men so glorious
News carried forth
Of an act notorious
Someone had slain
Brian Boru

This cowardly act
Was done by Brodur
With Brian on his knees
He showed him no quarter
With nowhere to flee
Our king was slaughtered
A sword in the heart
Of Brian Boru

But victory was ours
The Norse defeated
Strewn on the wind
As they retreated
Brodur he died
He hung executed
Avenging the death
Of Brian Boru

They had come from the north
They had come from the south
With their swords held aloft
They would fight to the death
They would meet with the Norse
They would always be true
And fight at the side
Of Brian Boru