MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Mike Dwyer
Jack Swain NFLD 1 Tape 11 Track 7
Calvert Audio:
Ballad / battle

Oh, now brave Mike Dwyer you and your trusty men
Are sent o'er the mountains and tracked into the glen
Sleep not but watch and listen keep ready gun and ball
For the enemy know your hiding place tonight at wild Imaal

They traveled on together towards the dawn of day
Discovered where those faithful and . fearless and faithful heroes lay
And round their little cabin they formed in a ring
And called out "Mike Dwyer surrender to your king."

Then up spoke Mike Dwyer saying. "Unto this house we came
Unasked by those good people they cannot be to blame
So let those guiltless people unquestioned pass you through
And when they're passed in safety I'll tell you what we'll do."

'Twas done then said Dwyer, "Now let your work begin
You are a hundred outside we're only four within
We've heard your haughty summons and this is our reply
We're true united Irishmen we'll fight until we die."

Then burst Dwyer's red lightning and poured the leaden rain
The hills around re-echoed and thunder pealed again
So many soldiers falling Dwyer sees with pride
But a. one gallant comrade is wounded by his side

Then up speaks brave McAlister the weak and wounded man
"You can escape my comrades and this shall be your plan
Place in my hand a musket and lie upon the floor
I'll stand before the soldiers and open wide the door."

"They'll pour into my bosom the fires of their array
And when their guns are emptied dash through them and away."

He stood before the foeman revealed amidst the flame
From out their level pieces that wish for folly came
Up sprang those three survivors for whom that hero died
But only Mike Dwyer burst through the ranks outside

He battled his pursuers who followed like the wind
He swam the river Slaney and left them far behind
But many was the redcoat he promised soon should fall
For those his gallant comrades who died at wild Imaal


Sources: Music transcription notes give the name inaccurately as "Mike Dewar"; Roud 5219.

History: The song was written by T. D. Sullivan (1827-1914), an Irish poet and politician. The title character, Michael Dwyer, was born in the Glen of Imaal in 1772. A United Irishman, he played an active role in defending the Glen of Imaal during the rebellions of the 1790s.

Text notes: The singer recounts the battle at Immal, where Mike Dwyer and three comrades held out agains 100 foes and survived.

Tune notes: Sung freely in 4/4 metre. The first two lines of this "abcd" form use a major scale, ending on the dominant,   but the second two lines are pentatonic.

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