top of page

The Battle of Prosperous

Circa late 1800’s

The chapel bell at Prosperous was pealing loud and high;

The weaver and the artisans in groups have gathered nigh.

From Blackwood and from Downings, from Longtown and Donore;

From Curryhills and Landenstown, those sturdy peasants pour;

And matrons from Mylerstown and maids from Currabell;

The dread doings of those yeomen in shuddering horror tell;

For those monsters of oppression and dark dishonour reign

In that district long abandoned to the tyrant rule of Swayne.

The bell had ceased its tolling and the echoes scarce have died,

When from the Clane direction see you spurring horseman ride;

Like a fairy wind from Allen comes the horse with flowing mane;

And seated in the saddle is the brave Edmond from Clane.

He reigned before the chapel gate, and as his friends drew near

With choking voice he asked them “Boys, is Edmond Laldir here?”

Then as the stalwart figure of O’Hanlon met his view,

He sobbed out “Edmond Laldir, I have dreadful news for you.

Edmond, pray for patience, for your home is burned down

And your aged parents butchered by forces of the Crown;

And your sweet gentle Maire, your fair young blooming bride,

With her infant in her arms by their bloody bayonets died.

Ah, men of old Cill Dara, do we call on you in vain?

Can the offspring of such fathers tamely wear a slavish chain?

Can the sons they’ve left behind be so unmindful of their fate,

That any true Kildare man fears to speak of ’98.

So, Edmond, pray for patience, and be quick, make no delay;

For we’ll meet the brutes in open fight on the 23rd May.

No word did Edmond utter, but towards the Chapel faced,

And solemnly that strong right hand upon his heart he placed.

While he bowed his head in reverence and swore an oath that he

For all those deeds of slaughter yet would well avenged be.

At Hatter’s Cross at midnight of the appointed day.

Four hundred brave Unitedmen assembled for the fray;

They had guns and blunderbusses with many a trusty pike;

With knives and even pitch forks, and the sharp-edge blades of scythes.

From Killybegs and Ballinafagh, from Newtown and elsewhere,

There came the finest fighters in the County of Kildare.

Captain Andrew Farrell, boys, is marching at their head,

A braver man to battle ne’er his trusted forces led.

And Edmond, too, with sledge and pike is marching by his side.

He is thinking of his parents’ dear, sweet infant and fair bride,

Now they have reached the Blackstick on Blackwood’s bleak highway,

The night was dark, not e’en one star shot down a guiding ray

When nine of those valiant heroes quick scaled the barrack wall.

And slew the sentries at their posts ere they could warning call.

Then with one well-directed blow, O’Hanlon burst the door,

And up the stairs to Swayne’s bedroom in frenzied wrath he tore;

And there his Maire’s murderer sat, half-dressed upon the bed;

The ready pike quick found his heart, the tyrant dropped back dead.

And now, at the doors and windows, alarmed yeos appear,

With shaking limbs and shivering hands and features blanched with fear;

For around the doomed barracks was piled the well-dried hay;

And soon a thousand tongues of flame made night as bright as day.

And now the peasants muskets and pikes and pitch forks piled;

And if the yeos escaped the fire, on vengeful steel they died.

When the morning sun on Prosperous shot down its pallid light,

That hated yeoman barracks stood no longer there in sight.

The vow that Edmond Laldir made he had fulfilled it well;

But five of all that hated band escaped, the tale to tell

Some fell at Old Kilcullen, at Clane and Naas some died,

But the spirits from the graveyards for a century have cried,

Ye men and boys of Prosperous such is my simple lay,

Of your fathers fight for freedom, on that 23rd May

Fighting men of Prosperous

On the twenty-fourth of May,

At the dawning of the day,

Our boys went under arms Prosperous to invade;

With hand and heart we marched

Under Captain Farrell’s orders,

It’s in the town we halted and set it in a blaze.

There were red-hot balls a-flying,

The groans of soldiers dying,

Flames in the air were flying, and Swayne expiring there,

To retreat our Colonel gave orders,

But we never faltered,

Until killed, wounded, and slaughtered, we won the battle there.

Next morning Naas was tattered,

And all our brethren slaughtered,

Many a valiant hero lay bleeding on the green.

Our Colonel he forsook us,

And cursed Griffith took him,

He immediately was detected and ordered into jail.

Phil Might, the informer cruel,

He robbed us of our jewel,

May the heavens vengeance on him pour down

God and his holy angels

May for ever hate him,

May he be afflicted with the heavenly frown

The boys we have forsaken,

Kilcock town have taken,

Leixlip, Johnstown, and Maynooth, with all its Cavalry,

And home we then returned,

Sparks’s house we burned,

In recompense for Kennedy, that died there on a tree.

Our Captains they combined,

And all together joined,

Straight we marched that night in camp on Wiley’s Hill

Disciplined and well-armed,

But soon we were alarmed,

All by a point of war beat by the Highlandman.

Three hours we gave battle,

Where cannon balls did rattle,

Like hail and claps of thunder they flew about our ears

Our powder and ball did fly

Tremendous through the sky,

Three hundred of their soldiers we left lying there.

The cowards from us flew,

In ambush themselves threw,

The army them all slew, when we were fled away

By the terror of that day,

Our captains run away,

To Newtown bog we returned, the informer Gaitly killed.

Colonel Aylmer bold,

A valiant heart of gold,

He never was controlled, but fought most manfully,

He was general-in-chief commander,

Over the Irish banner,

Maintaining Erin’s rights and sweet liberty.

The bloody adulterous crew,

They thought us to subdue,

But well we made them rue the day they did begin,

Whipping and destroying

But our brave Irish boys,

Soon they let them know we were united men.

If Ireland had behaved,

Like Wicklow, Wexford, and Kildare,

The green flag would be hoisted through town and country.

To conclude and make an end,

Here’s a health to united men,

Long may they live and reign over bloody tyranny.

This song was taken from R.R Madden’s volume; Literary Remains of the United Irishmen of 1798. Madden had collected many songs, street ballads and biographies that represented both sides in the rebellion. According to John Devoy (Fenian Leader), this was still the favourite '98 ballad around Naas in the middle of the nineteenth century!


Song of Ovidstown

Oh, Mary get my coat of green,

It’s near the break of day,

In a retreat* my name shall be,

It’s not at home I’ll stay,

The ancient race unto disgrace,

Shall ne’er be brought by me,

Oh, I’m away to Ovidstown to fight for liberty.


With pike so keen, and sash of green,

That emblem dear to me;

Oh, I’m away to Ovidstown to fight for liberty.

Captain Farrell, he has gone,

He was in Donadea;

The moon is up and Hanlon’s troops,

From home are gone away,

Before we dull tomorrow’s sun,

A glorious sight you’ll see,

On all Dara’s plains, we’ll break our chains,

And set old Ireland free.


There is Captain Burke from Barrettstown,

He’s gone with his brave band,

Of full three-hundred green clad youths,

He has at his command,

And Cox’s Corps has left Donore;

I fear that late I’ll be,

To reach the ground where the trumpet sounds,

To set old Ireland free,


Oh, Mary get my coat of green,

It’s near our parting time,

On the old hill of Ballynafagh,

We will fall into line;

Oh! there’s the shout, the boys are out,

Hurrah! Grá Geal Mo Chroí

With that brave band I’ll join my hand,

And set old Ireland free.

*Note: It was said that the United Irishmen went to confessions, received Holy Communion and spent some time on a retreat, before going into battle.  Captain Farrell, was of course the leader of the Prosperous rebels.

bottom of page