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O'Donnell Ab

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Wikipedia article

'"O'Donnell Ab"' is a traditional Irish song. Its lyrics were written by a Fenian Michael Joseph McCann in 1843. It refers to the Gaelic lord Red Hugh O'Donnell who ruled Tyrconnell in the late sixteenth century, first with the approval of the Crown authorities in Dublin and later in rebellion against them during Tyrone's Rebellion.Ronayne p. 73 The title refers to the Gaelic war cry of "Ab," "To victory," which followed a commander's name.


Stylistically the song draws on the romantic nationalism of the mid-nineteenth century, similar to those of McCann's contemporary Thomas Davis.


Proudly the note of the trumpet is sounding;

Loudly the war cries arise on the gale;

Fleetly the steed by Lough Swilly is bounding,

To join the thick squadrons on Saimear's green vale.

On, ev'ry mountaineer,

Strangers to flight or fear,

Rush to the standard of dauntless Red Hugh.

Bonnaught and Gallowglass,

Throng from each mountain pass.

On for old Erin, "O'Donnell Ab!"

Princely O'Neill to our aid is advancing

With many a chieftain and warrior clan.

A thousand proud steeds in his vanguard are prancing

'Neath the borderers brave from the Banks of the Bann:

Many a heart shall quail

Under its coat of mail.

Deeply the merciless foeman shall rue

When on his ears shall ring,

Borne on the breeze's wing,

Tr Chonaill's dread war-cry, "O'Donnell Ab!"

Wildly o'er Desmond the war-wolf is howling;

Fearless the eagle sweeps over the plain;

The fox in the streets of the city is prowling--

All who would scare them are banished or slain!

Grasp ev'ry stalwart hand

Hackbut and battle brand--

Pay them all back the debt so long due;

Norris and Clifford well

Can of Tirconnell tell;

Onward to glory--"O'Donnell ab!"

Sacred the cause that Clan Connell's defending--

The altars we kneel at and homes of our sires;

Ruthless the ruin the foe is extending--

Midnight is red with the plunderer's fires.

On with O'Donnell then,

Fight the old fight again,

Sons of Tirconnell,

All valiant and true:

Make the false Saxon feel

Erin's avenging steel!

Strike for your country! "O'Donnell Ab!"'O'Donnell Ab' on http://homepage.eircom.net/~vod/songs.htm .

The song portrays the rallying cry for the ODonnell clan, called to assemble at a location on the banks of the River Erne. The 'Bonnaught' and 'Gallowglass' were Irish and Scots mercenaries employed by O'Donnell to guard the mountain passes. They are now summoned to join the rest of O'Donnell's forces, who await the arrival of Hugh ONeill, Earl of Tyrone, and the Borderers who protect his lands.[http://www.ianohio.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=896:the-meaning-of-odonnell-abuq&catid=148:illuminations Finn, J. Michael. "The Meaning of ODonnell Ab", 'Irish American News']


In the 1930s it was adopted as the anthem of the Irish Blueshirts. In the 1960s the song was recorded by the Irish folk group Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers.

The song was chosen by Radio ireann as the station ID signal in 1936, after a poll of listeners. It remains to be such to this day. Everyday it is played on RT Radio 1 at 5:30AM.

The song appears in the 1966 movie, The Fighting Prince of Donegal.

The song music with new lyrics was used by the Christian Brothers from Ireland as the school rally of St. Joseph's College in Hong Kong.

The song music with lyrics of Chong Gene Hang College in Hong Kong from 1971 was modified from St. Joseph's College, Hong Kong. In 2000, the lyrics have translated into Chinese.

See also

*Follow Me up to Carlow



* Liam Ronayne. 'Donegal Highlands: Paintings and Stories from Northwest Donegal'. Dundurn, 1998.

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